For McClatchy Newspapers, Tom Lasseter investigates a case of apparent forced prostitution by dozens of local teenagers in the central Chinese city of Chengguan, and questions how Beijing will be able to handle such cases of local power run amok:
Past the terrible details set at a drab spa on the edge of an industrial park in central China, the incident raised troubling questions in the minds of residents: Did government officials and their associates provide protection to the Water Cube? Were they among the customers who paid cash to rape local girls?
The Legal Daily carried allegations of some 10 instances of unnamed officials and well-known citizens in Chengguan paying for sex with young prostitutes at the Water Cube in the spring of 2010. The club, named for the Olympic aquatics center in Beijing, is one intersection away from a police station.
Hard feelings over local mandarins and their corrupt dealings are commonplace in China. But the fact that suspicions extend to something as grotesque as schoolgirl prostitution is the sort of development that causes concern in the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party.
It’s far from obvious, though, how the central leadership will manage such tensions amid complaints of privilege and cash trumping the law.
Read more about the unchecked power of local officials in China, via CDT.