Sex in China

Want to know more about sex in China?

A diverse nation covering almost 10million square kilometres and home to almost 20% of the planet, China is an extraordinary country. It is the fourth most popular tourist destination in the world and attracts around 57 million international visitors each year. Famous as much for its ancient history as well as its high-tech industries, modern China is an enigmatic and vibrant country.

In this guide, we take a look at the prostitution and pornography laws, the adult industry and the stare of LGBTQ rights in China. We also shine a spotlight on the culture of sex and what makes the Chinese tick when it comes to sex.

Sex in China

In a country with 1.379 billion people, it would be hard to distil the entire nations sexual habits. China is made up of a huge number of different regions across rural and urban developments. It is the third largest country in the world and has influences from its Asian neighbours as well as from he West. The modern People’s Republic of China is developing from its recent communist past to being a rapidly liberalised nation with attitudes changing all the time. Of course, China has one of the most richly celebrated cultures and history on the planet and there are still some aspects of tradition which influence modern society.

China has a global reputation for its authoritarianism and the one-party state regularly draws attention for its censorial role in governing its people. Pornography and prostitution are both illegal but both are accessible; the latter has reached levels of tolerance that have made it subject to discussions of legalisation.

Coming as a surprise to some people, China is a multi-religious state in which the freedom of belief is protected by the constitution. The influence of Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Catholicism have also shaped various regions of the country with local laws and cultures shaping the way the sex is perceived.

There are also areas of China which are not governed in the same way as the mainland. Known as Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macau are both a part of China but have their own laws and legislation. In both regions, prostitution and pornography are legalised.

sex in hong kong china prostitution
Special Administrative Regions have their own laws. Former British colony, Hong Kong is famously a very liberal place for sex. Image via Pixabay.

Around 30% of adults in China live with their parents which can put a dampener on sexual activities. Most singles get around this by using a love hotel which rent rooms by the hour. The rise of these short time rentals is on the increase, particularly with unmarried couples. According to a survey conducted by Time Magazine in 2005, 70% of Beijings residents said they had sex before marriage. Not that marriage is by any means a cause for fidelity in modern China; the same survey showed that a third of those under the age of 26 had no problem with extramarital affairs.

Of course, love hotels are just one way of exploring sex with a partner and the lack of private space can sometimes make public places a go-to area for sex. Visitors to China may find notices in parks that forbid sex, this is a result of their common use for such activities over the last few decades.

A survey conducted in 2010 in which the sexual activities of over a million Chinese men and women were reviewed, revealed the following statistics:

  • 7% of men have sex every day.
  • The duration of sex for more than half of men (52.3%) is less than ten minutes. This isn’t great news for the 42.8% of women who cannot reach climax within ten minutes.
  • However, less than a quarter of men (22%) believe that a woman’s orgasm is their responsibility.
  • 3% of men and 77.6% of women have had five partners or less.
  • 7% of men and 1.4% of women have had more than 30 sexual partners.
  • Around one in four men (26.3%) and women (28.3%) have tried a threesome – that’s more women than men!

Sex education in China is generally considered very poor and has been a taboo subject for many centuries. There is no nationwide provision for compulsory sex education in schools and young people have very little knowledge of contraception, issues around consent and all matters regarding positive relationships and sexual health.

For some women now in their 20s, the only sexual education they ever received at school was simple advice on where to obtain the morning after pill.

The lack of any formal approach to the subject is having an impact on social issues with the country suffering from rising rates of abortion, incidences of STDs and HIV/AIDS. Though the situation is far from an epidemic, some universities in China stock HIV testing kits in vending machines on campus; a bold and innovative approach perhaps but some might say it is putting the cart before the horse.

For many women, abortion is the primary method of birth control and condom use in China is low compared to other Asian countries. Another issue around affecting condom use is the prevalence of a male dominated society with women being too ‘shy’ to insist on the use of contraception.

sex china contraception
Despite hotels giving out free condoms, their use is not as common as in other Asian countries. Image via Wikimedia.

The average age to lose your virginity in China is currently 17.4 years old; this is significantly down on the older generation who lost theirs at the age of 24.1 years old. For many Chinese people, their first sex education is during their first sexual encounter.

Overall, the culture of sex in China is pretty open and the Chinese enjoy a varied and healthy attitude towards physical relationships. Though the traditional culture of the family unit and male dominance prevails, a more modern and liberal China is emerging. Certainly in the cities, sex is commonplace and far less taboo than in the rural areas of the country.

Adult Industry in China

Pornography in China is illegal in China and the production of adult content both for traditional media and online is banned. Since 2004, the government has been cracking down on websites, introducing censorship controls.

Despite this, there is a black market for foreign content as well as a huge supply of amateur footage. Citizens can access porn on the internet but the sources can vary depending on how easily they can be accessed.

Though adult film studios do exist in China, these are shut down quickly and their output can be very sporadic.

In general, Chinese adult film stars, producers and directors work outside of the country or in places like Hong Kong and Macau where pornography is legal.

This ban includes live cam sex sites and has even extended to social media networks which offer live streaming. A woman eating a banana in a suggestive video in 2017, streamed on social media caused a huge stir when the government responded by threatening to ban the services of Sina Weibo, AcFun and iFeng.

Top Porn Stars in China

As mentioned above, Chinese porn stars are largely known outside of the country due to their working abroad. Perhaps the most famous of these is, Evelyn Lin who was born in China but raised in America. Though she retired in 2011, Lin was active for over five years and as very popular for her cute Asian schoolgirl performances. Popular titles include ‘Asian Slut Invasion 2’ and ‘Big Dicks, Little Asians’.

evelyn lin porn star china
On the set of ‘Barely Legal 75’, Evelyn Lin shows her cute Asian teen appeal. Image via Wikimedia.

Kobe Tai is the most well-known Chinese porn star and she was known for her work with Vivid Entertainment during the 1990s. Voted one of the Top 50 Hottest Asian Porn Stars of All Time, Tai was born in Taiwan to a Chinese mother.

Of course, many people may also be familiar with the work of Annabel Chong who is known as China’s first porn star. Though she was born in Singapore, Chong was active during the 1990s and starred in the ‘The World’s Biggest Gang Bang’. The film showed her having sex with 70 men over an impressive ten hours during which she performed 251 sex acts. The title was such a success that is credited with the copycat trend of ‘World’s Biggest Gang Bang’ movies that followed.

The top ten Chinese porn stars, by video views on the popular tube hosting site, XVideos, are:

Performer Total Video Views Asian Ranking World Ranking
Alina Li 176,942,559 6 132
Evelyn Lin 73,889,268 15 702
Miko Lee 52,314,358 41 1,681
Kobe Tai 21,186,791 57 2,120
Ange Venus 23,641,925 58 2,174
Jandi Lin 8,343,755 74 2,503
Asia Zo 21,036,458 86 2,777
Ti Mitchell 6,405,061 181 4,528
Chi Sun 6,408,249 205 4,977
Jade Feng 2,587,359 243 5,859

Other Chinese porn stars of note include:

  • Leilani Wong
  • Nina Lynn
  • Miley Villa
  • Katana Porn
  • Kimmy Khan
  • Zhai Ling
  • Lena Lang

Prostitution Laws in China

Prostitution in mainland China is illegal however it is legalised in the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong.

See more: A list of prostitution laws across Asia.

In the main, the transaction of sexual services is dealt with as administrative infractions rather than through the criminal code. Penalties are usually in the form of fines although organised brothels, sex rings and trafficking are all dealt with more harshly.

Prostitution has been illegal since the communist era of China when Chairman Mao gained power. The Communist Party of China wanted to eradicate the trade and just one month into the takeover, all of Beijing’s 224 brothels were shut down. This policy was strictly enforced and by the 1960s prostitution in China had almost been entirely wiped out. The process was a mix of policies including control orders, gradual closures and re-education. According to the government at the time, VD was also eliminated in the country; they were so confident of this that they closed all VD research institutes in 1964.

sex in communist china
Prostitution in communist China was virtually distinguished but is believed to have simply gone underground. Image via Wikimedia.

It is difficult to know how successful Maoist China was in dealing with prostitution as there is some evidence that all the regime did was drive the trade underground creating an ‘invisible’ market. Certainly there is some support for the theory that the sex trade existed alongside the government with sexual favours being exchanged for priveleges.

By 1978, the liberalisation of the Chinese economy and the period known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution resulted in a return of prostitution to mainland China.

Currently, China is the largest prostitution market in the world generating an estimated $73billion each year with an estimated 5million prostitutes working in the country.

Of this number, there are a good deal of Chinese sex workers but the country also attracts prostitutes from other nations, including:

  • North Korean – 10,000 to 100,000 women are estimated to have escaped the regime and are working as prostitutes in China.
  • South Korean – popular in Macau
  • Vietnamese – can be found in brothels throughout Hekou County
  • Japanese – popular in Macau
  • Mongolian – mainly found in Beijing
  • Eastern European (including Russia) – found in many cities especially Shanghai
  • African – can be found in brothels across China

Prostitution is ranked in China into seven categories (or tiers) depending on the type of sexual services being sold; all are illegal but are dealt with in different ways. The categories are:

  • First Tier – Baoernai: Women who act as ‘second wives’, usually to men of influence or wealth. These women are essentially mistresses who accept payment or lavish gifts in exchange for services.
  • Second Tier – Baopo or ‘packaged wives’: High class escorts who accompany men for fixed periods in exchange for money. Also known as concubines.
  • Third Tier – Santing or ‘three halls’: Women who work in entertainment venues who receive tips in exchange for services. The three halls refers to the common establishments of KTVs, teahouses and bars although there are many other places where these women work.
  • Fourth Tier – Doorbell Ladies or Ding Dong Girls: Hotel call girls who solicit their clients by telephoning rooms directly.
prostitution china
‘Ding-Dong’ girls use the hotel telephone systems to ply their trade. Image via Wikimedia.
  • Fifth Tier – Falangmei or ‘hairdressing salon sisters’: Commercial prostitutes that work in personal service venues like massage parlours, barber shops, beauty salons and saunas.
  • Sixth Tier – Jienü or ‘street girls’: Women who solicit clients on the street.
  • Seventh Tier – Xiangongpeng or ‘down the work shack’: This is a tier usually reserved for rural prostitutes who sell sex in exchange for small sums or food to male labourers.

Policing has historically been focused on the 3rd to 5th tiers but in most major cities commonly known brothels are largely left alone. Though this is believed, in part, to be due to corruption the relaxation of the law at a local level is more likely to be a result of the underdeveloped legal system and economy. Prosecution can be costly and complicated and the financial benefits to the economy cannot be ignored.

Tourists who use prostitutes can generally expect to do so without penalty as long as they use an established venue or agency to do so. It is also essential that other aspects of the law are adhered to including those relating to public indecency and age of consent.

When it comes to the Chinese themselves, around one in four men have visited a prostituted (26%) of which:

  • 9% have been 1-5 times
  • 9% have been 6-10 times
  • 0% have been 11-20 times
  • 0% have been 21-30 times
  • 2% have been more than 31 times.

Around 6% of men who have used a prostitute have done so on work-related occasions.

China Porn Viewing Trends

Pornography is banned in the People’s Republic of China and many websites are blocked by the government. As a result, the Chinese are often restricted to viewing low quality, amateur footage from within their own country. There is a big demand for traditional media porn such as DVDs from other Asian countries, most notably Japan.

japanese AV porn star china porn trends
With a lack of legal Chinese porn, Japanese AV stars are popular in China. Image via Wikimedia.

Tube hosting site, Porn MD, keep tabs on the most popular search terms globally and the top ten from China might not come as a surprise:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • China
  • Chineses
  • Hong Kong
  • 18
  • Taiwan
  • Korean
  • 3D
  • 中国 (China)

The results show a pretty clear picture of what ethnicity the Chinese are searching for when it comes to their pornography and that’s Asian. The country has long had a fascination with the AV stars of Japan and it seems as though they aren’t that discerning on which of their neighbours they are watching online.

Certainly there is very little studio porn produced in mainland China so much of the local porn is of an amateur quality.

Top Chinese Porn Sites

When it comes to the top Chinese porn, there are sites which are popular in the Chinese language and those that are geared towards a Western audience. Quite a few of the popular porn tube sites have a good deal of content tagged with ‘Chinese’ or ‘China’ but oftentimes you can find these are a mix of other Asian nationalities. We’ve pulled together a list of our top picks for Chinese porn from a variety of sources:

chinese porn sites
Featuring real profiles of Chinese girlfriends, Bonk My Chinese is a popular premium porn site. Image via BonkMyChinese.

LGBTQ in China

There is a long history of homosexuality in China with homoeroticism being documented in Ancient China. There is evidence that some early emperors enjoyed same-sex relationships alongside heterosexual ones. Many studies suggest that it was considered a normal facet of life and there was little discrimination against homosexuality until the country began to experience more of a Western influence in the mid-19th century.

homosexuality china
Homo-eroticism is a common feature in Ancient China. Image via Wikimedia.

Homosexuality in China was prohibited until 1997 when it was finally legalised. In 2001, being gay was declassified as a mental illness.

China also recognises transgendered individuals who wish to change their legal gender as long as they have undergone sexual reassignment surgery and are over the age of 20. Transgendered individuals may then officially be recognised in their new gender and marry a member of the opposite sex.

Same sex partnerships are not recognised by the People’s Republic of China and same-sex marriage is prohibited.

The LGBTQ community has no legal rights or protection against discrimination and conversion therapy is routinely used to try and ‘cure’ homosexuality. There is also a federal ban on homosexuality in both online audio and video content.

In general, the Chinese appear to be ambivalent towards same-sex relationships and are disinterested in the discourse around the issue. Traditional family values are important in Chinese society and culture and the expectation of marriage and the obligations for having a family take a precedence which deters many people from coming out.

LGBT China
The first organised celebration of the LGBTQ community: Shanghai Pride, 2009. Image via Flickr.

China has been in the global spotlight over the last few decades and there is a great deal of pressure on the government to bring about change to its equality laws. In 2009, China held its first Pride festival, a week-long calendar of events in Shanghai.

Top Classified/Personals Sites in China

China has thousands of sites catering for online dating. Some are premium services which offer singles the chance to meet verified members for a fixed monthly fee whilst others are free classified sites. We’ve categories our choice of the best ways to find a date in China from casual encounters to serious romances. Most cater for western visitors and are in the English language.

Free Classified Services

This is a category of dating site such as Craigslist; free to use but with unverified ads, these sites offer a mixed bag of results. Some are notorious for being used by escorts whilst others can carry the occasional scam. They are a useful way to start and are more popular with casual encounters than for serious dating.

Premium Dating Sites

Many of these sites offer a free registration but the best features are only available via paid subscriptions. They offer a verified way to meet singles in China but at a cost.

dating in china
Offering more serious dating opportunities, China Love Cupid. Image via website.

Dating Apps

A high-tech nation, apps are a popular way to meet people online and just like Tinder has revolutionised Western dating, the following apps are popular in China:

Featured image via Pixabay.