Selling Sex Overseas: Chinese Women and the Realities of Prostitution and Global Sex Trafficking by Ko-Lin Chin and James Finckenauer

Background from Wikipedia

I looked up the Teochew Han ethnicity, because I had never heard of it before. The author mentions it, because it is common in Thailand. Most Thai Chinese are of Teochew descent. The Teochew are originally from coastal Guangdong and speak an ancient dialect of Chinese. Their neighbors are the Cantonese, Hakka and Hokkien (Fujianese). Famous people of Teochew ethnicity include:

  • Michael Chang, the American tennis player,
  • Ma Huateng, founder of Tencent QQ instant messaging,
  • Li Ka-shing, founder of the Cheung Kong property development group,
  • Major General Lê Văn Viễn of the Bình Xuyên, who use to run Cholon, and
  • Heung Chin, founder of the Sun Yee On Triad.

Methodology

The authors studied Chinese women from People’s Republic of China (PRC) only. Most other books have focussed on trafficked women, but this one focusses on voluntary prostitutes. They repeatedly state that their sampling of prostitutes was not a random sample. The authors acknowledge that their samples were not fully representative and could be skewed. They used what is called purposive sampling, it is not random, but they try to interview a variety of people, and try not to be skewed toward any particular group. They admit that it is hard to find trafficked prostitutes, because they are much more likely to be hidden than voluntary prostitutes. All interviews were conducted by male interviewers, because they could not afford female ones. The interviewers obtained informed consent  from the prostitutes interviewed. No third parties were present during the interview, so the women could speak freely. Women were not pressured to answer questions. They documented rejections; there was a 9% rejection rate.

Kinds of People Interviewed

  • prostitutes
  • managers of venues
  • law enforcement officials
  • victim services providers
  • cab drivers
  • bartenders
  • hairdressers

Research Sites

  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Taipei
  • Bangkok
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Singapore
  • Jakarta
  • Shenzhen (only location in PRC)
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City

Terminology

  • xiaojie: little elder sister, Chinese term for female prostitute
  • xiaolongnu: little dragon lady, Chinese prostitutes in Malaysia
  • China doll: female prostitute (Malaysia)
  • wuya: crows, young Chinese students in Singapore looking for rich old men
  • chickenhead; man who arranges travel from PRC to a foreign city for prostitution
  • chipor: chicken lady, moves women from villages to coast
  • mommy: woman who finds customers for prostitutes
  • daddy: local male protector
  • falangmei: hair salon lady
  • jishi: technician, masseuse in spa or sauna
  • jockey: man who drives women to clients
  • yazi: duck, man who sell sex to women
  • yadian: duck house, yazi brothels
  • mistress village: city in Guangdong Province where rich businessmen from Hong Kong and Taiwan keep their mistresses
  • beigu: girl from the north (in Hong Kong)
  • KTV: Karaoke TV lounge
  • flower hall: nightclub where the chosen girl receives a flower ring around her neck
  • debt bondage: prostitute cannot leave her pimp until she pays off her travel fee
  • bounded rationality: making a choice in the context of limited options
  • symbolic politics: a form of advocacy that publicizes a problem, without actually helping solve the problem — used in this book with respect to the advocates of sex-trafficking laws

Motives for Becoming Sex Workers

  • member of rural poor in villages
  • alternatives pay poorly: domestic workers, dim sum cart, cleaning lady, factory work
  • daughter becomes a sacrificial lamb to help support the family
  • only daughters, not sons, are asked to support their families
  • girls drop out of school, but their brothers continue with their education
  • to pay father’s debts
  • to escape a bad husband
  • to support her boyfriend
  • to pay husband’s debts
  • gangster husband arrested
  • divorced women with children not receiving child support
  • women work overseas so family will not know
  • to be able to shop for nice things

Recruitment, Money and Working Conditions

  • Many overseas prostitutes were prostitutes earlier back in PRC
  • Most customers are ethnic overseas Chinese men
  • Mainland women are often recruited by a returned xiaojie, who receives a referral fee
  • Agents (chicken heads) are needed for travel documents
  • Women usually repay agent fee in 1-2 months of work.
  • Assault by a client is rare.
  • Pimp helps watch out for police and protect the women from violent customers.
  • Women keep about half of the fee paid by the john
  • Women can make good money just by sitting at customers tables at nightclubs (w/o sex)
  • Chinese prostitutes generally do not have any problem getting their clients to wear condoms. They refuse to have sex with them if they won’t.
  • Drug use is not common among prostitutes.
  • When there are no customers, the ladies play mahjong.

Differences in Work Locales

  • New York and Los Angeles: Favorite destination, because it pays so well. Prostitutes the U.S. are older and better educated than those in Asian locales. Before the Chinese influx, Koreans made up a large percentage of Asian prostitutes in the U.S.
  • Taiwan: PRC women in Taiwan are given away by their accents, so to avoid the police they cannot walk the streets and instead must work for escort services. It is hard to enter Taiwan from PRC. So the women need an agent, who arranges a fake marriage between a fake Taiwanese husband and the PRC woman and brings them back to China for a fee. The woman rarely sees her fake husband after she moves to Taiwan.
  • Hong Kong: Easy destination for PRC woman. It is legal for an individual women to operate a one-woman apartment for sex work. Hong Kong men prefer to go to the mainland to buy sex, for price and anonymity.
  • Macau: Macau surpassed Las Vegas in 2007; Macau more tolerant of prostitution than Hong Kong; look for them in the lobbies and basements of large hotels
  • Jakarta: officials more corrupt than most of the places studied, and the women had less freedom, because they were required to give their travel documents to their employers.
  • Bangkok: Chinese prostitutes in Bangkok don’t like Teochew clients, because they are old, cheap and gossip amongst each other.
  • Shenzhen: Prostitution in the PRC is concentrated on the coast.

Organized Crime

Asian organized crime has little interested in prostitution, because there is not enough money in it. Organized crime makes more money from drugs and gambling. In China girls are traded for adoption and marriage but not for prostitution.

Sex Trafficking

There is a lack of consensus on the definition of sex trafficking. Some radical feminists claim that prostitution is never voluntary. Because of pressure from the United Nations, the European Union and the United States, local officials are pressured to treat voluntary prostitutes as victims of sex trafficking and deport them.

Moral Crusade

Fighting against sex trafficking has become a moral crusade. There is a lot of hype regarding sex trafficking. T-visas give temporary resident status in the United States. Few have been issued for the victims of sex trafficking. Why? Is it because there are not many such women in the United States? Advocates of the sex trafficking view stand to gain government grants. Governments rely on NGOs and newspaper articles for sex trafficking statistics. The current book is an attempt to make a more objective and rational appraisal of the situation, at lease with respect to the overseas Chinese. This book has little information on the situation in Eastern Europe and Muslim countries.

The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of the Planet Earth by Eric M. Jackson

Founders

PayPal was founded by Peter Thiel, David Sacks, and Max Levchin. Peter Thiel was born in Frankfurt, Germany. Max Levchin was born in Kiev, Ukraine. David Sacks was born in Cape Town, South Africa. Peter Thiel and Norman Book had earlier founded the libertarian newspaper, The Stanford Review. Thiel and Sacks had earlier written The Diversity Myth, which criticized political correctness and multiculturalism at Stanford University. 

Money Transfers

PayPay was originally designed for people with Palm Pilot PDAs, to help them transfer money to each other. The Web interface was added as a secondary feature, but it became the primary feature. PayPal initially used the ACH (Automated Clearing House), which is what banks use with checks. It is slow, but the cost per transaction is very low. 

Online Auctions

The author, Eric Jackson, was in charge of marketing at PayPal. He had the idea of growing PayPal’s user base offering the eBay user the option to use PayPal to handle payments. PayPal became the most popular payment service at eBay. Paypal made it easy for eBay sellers to include a link to PayPal in the HTML of their storefront. 

The Customer Is Always Right

PayPal often had to back out of changes they made to increase their profitability, because the changes proved to be unpopular with the users. Changes often had to be backed out of in a matter of days. PayPal also paid a lot of attention to message boards. 

Transaction Fraud

One of the main problems PayPal had was protecting themselves from transaction fraud. PayPal developed a method to verify that their online customers had bank accounts. I’ve been through this, myself. PayPal deposits a small amount of money in your bank account. Then you go online and tell them how much it was. 

Merger with X.com

For me, the most interesting part of PayPal’s merger with X.com was the fact that the X.com programmers used Microsoft Windows NT software, while the PayPal people used UNIX and Oracle software. Some managers at PayPal saw this as being an arcane theological dispute, which I thought disrespected the importance of technology. Thank god, the UNIX and Oracle team won! 

Acquisition by eBay

Soon after PayPal went public, it was acquired by eBay. 

PayPal Mafia

Many of the early PayPal people have gone on to found other important companies:

  • Peter Thiel was an early investor in Facebook. 
  • David Sacks produced and financed the movie Thank You For Smoking
  • Max Levchin was the main initial investor for Yelp, which was founded by PayPal engineers Russel Simmons,  and Jeremy Stoppelman. 
  • Elon Musk, co-founder of X.com, later co-founded Tesla Motors and founded SpaceX. 
  • Reid Hoffman, Chief Operating Officer at PayPal, went on to found LinkedIn. 
  • PayPal programmers Steve Chen, Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley later founded YouTube.

Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights by Ezra Levant

Canada’s national and provincial Human RIghts Commissions (HRC) were established to give the common person a way to protect themselves from discrimination. But as the amount of genuine bigotry has decreased in Canada, the goals of the commissions have changed. They now often persecute people merely for exercising their right to free speech, their right to criticize the political, religious, or sexual beliefs of others. Canadian civil rights activist, Alan Borovoy, originally a supporter of HRCs, has turned against their present incarnation, saying that he never foresaw the use of human rights laws as an instrument of censorship. There is no right not to be offended. 

The Human Rights Commissions are not required to abide by the strict rules that the normal court system is required to obey:

  • Hearsay is admissible in HRC hearings, 
  • No loser-pays rule for legal defense costs, 
  • No warrant required for HRC searches, 
  • No right against self-incrimination in HRC hearings, 
  • Proving that your assertions are true is an effective defense in traditional defamation of character lawsuits, but not for trial by HRC. 

Levant cites some examples of abuse:

  • The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal convicted Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation of discriminating against Ghassan Asad, an immigrant from Saudi Arabia, because a Kinexus employee called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to let them know that Asad was behaving suspiciously and might be a terrorist. 
  • The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal convicted the Vancouver Rape Relief centre of discriminating against, Kimberly Nixon, a male-to-female transsexual, for prohibiting him from counseling female rape victims, because they had a policy that only women were allowed to counsel female rape victims. The verdict was overturned on appeal. 
  • The Alberta Human Rights Commission ordered the Reverend Stephen Boissoin, a Christian, to cease making disparaging remarks about homosexuals in newspapers, email, radio or public speeches after he wrote a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate criticizing the public schools for promoting a pro-homosexual agenda. 
  • The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal fined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police half a million dollars, because it objected to Iranian Muslim immigrant Ali Tahmourpour wearing a religious amulet during training exercises. 

In 2006, Levant himself got into trouble with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, when his Western Standard magazine reprinted the the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons cartoons about the prophet Mohammed, and when during a radio debate with Pakistani immigrant Syed Soharwardy, Levant insulted Soharwardy. Ezra Levant says that he was able to win, because of the support he received from Internet blogs and YouTube. 

In 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress sued Maclean’s magazine for publishing an article by Mark Steyn that was critical of Islam. The magazine received support from the Toronto Globe and Mail, PEN Canada, the Canadian Association of Journalists, and was able to prevail.