"Polyamory in the PRC: A brief history of sex and swinging in modern China"
If you've never heard of SupChina, you're not a serious China watcher. Founded two years ago by Anla Cheng of Sino-Century China Private Equity Partners, it has grown into a deep, fascinating read "serving the Chinese diaspora worldwide, China watchers, international businesspeople, and the global-minded Western audience."
For instance, in addition to steel tariffs and the sudden censorship of Winnie the Pooh (who has become a vehicle for satire of Xi Jinping), was this recent top story: China's national medical hotline apologizes on Weibo for discrediting donkey-hide gelatin. The understory: Officialdom slapped down doctors for reporting that a folk cure-all wealthy manufacturers have started promoting, causing its price to jump from $9 to $400 a pound, doesn't work. The most upvoted comment to the doctors' retraction on Weibo was a snark rewriting of it: “Sorry for speaking the truth without deliberate consideration. Though we quickly deleted it after it had been discovered, the post still caused severe consequences.” If your news has become the same old same old, look for outlets like this.
Which is where the following comes from. Contrary to the title, it's very long.
Polyamory In The PRC: A Brief History Of Sex And Swinging In Modern China
Article 301 of China’s 1997 Criminal Law bans “group licentiousness,” and has been used in the past to bust would-be swingers. But why?
A very different feet illustration: The stark shadows show the people caught in the spotlight of a bust with their hands up. The hands are already behind bars. (Illustration by Katie Morton)
It was women who brought down Ma Yaohai 马尧海. The older, nosier kind — not the ones he liked to watch having sex.
In 2010, the then-53-year-old bespectacled academic became the face of Chinese swinging when he was arrested for “group licentiousness.” Although one of 22 charged, it was Ma’s refusal to quietly roll over and plead guilty, coupled with his professorial status, that made him a cause célèbre; it was thusly revealed, to many in China, that orgies are technically illegal.
The case symbolized the division between an older, staunchly conservative establishment and its more progressive, post-Reform juniors, who take freewheeling, pluralistic runs at formerly forbidden fare.
In Ma’s case, the meddling seniors won. His arrest was, Ma now believes, primarily the result of prudery and petty politics. A newly created neighborhood “senior’s court” had been “aiming to be declared a ‘Leading Work Unit,’” the professor explained over the phone. “So of course, they needed some achievement with which to get promoted. And in China, internet and mobile phones are all monitored, so they can easily find what anyone’s up to.”
...The heyday of the committees — curtains twitching and eyes widening at their neighbors’ proclivities — seems to be back. In 2016, police in northeast Heilongjiang Province sought out snitches with a sliding pay scale: Swingers fetched a bounty of 1,000 to 2,000 yuan ($150 to $300). In Kunming, the bounty was 1,000 to 3,000 yuan, while Xiamen’s flush Public Security Bureau offered “up to 10,000 yuan for information of such a kind.”
...By the time Ma’s case came to court, however, he had an older woman of a distinctly different stripe in his corner. The well-known activist and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) sexologist Li Yinhe 李银河, then 59, was a veteran of the war against wantonness. In 2007, she’d defended a woman fired for spouse swapping, arguing that it was a matter of “free will, privacy, and being an adult.” An energetic backlash to Li’s remarks called for a return to “traditional Chinese morality,” with one commenter exhorting: “Swapping husbands and wives? Why don’t they just go ahead and have sex with animals?”
Now, Li told reporters, Article 301 of the 1997 Criminal Law, banning “group licentiousness,” was a relic of the Cultural Revolution that hadn’t been applied once in more than 30 years; she then called on “the relevant departments to quickly investigate and abolish the crime of ‘group licentiousness.’”
Those who favored prosecuting Ma, and liberalism in general, evoked the end-times rhetoric of Fox News: The law must “protect the sexual relations of mainstream society,” insisted law professor Sun Guoxiang. Ma had “affected social order,” fumed another. Group sex was “decadent behavior…hindering the pursuit of the majority toward good behavior,” Ming Haoyue, a commentator, declared on Weibo. “Chaotic sexual behavior could fuel other evils.”
CASS, long considered a top academic research institute, would later come under fire from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party’s anti-corruption squad, accused of colluding with “foreign forces,” “ideological problems,” and promoting unorthodox viewpoints online.
...While his wife shyly nodded along, Daming explained that the couple enjoyed swapping because it was “new and exciting” and, moreover, free. Some estimate that fewer than 100,000 Chinese participate in group sex, but a chat forum dedicated to swinging on the (now defunct) website “Happy Village” once had more than 380,000 registered members. Most continue to meet via hobby groups on lifestyle sites. One commenter from Zhihu, a popular Q&A site, enthused that “We’ve been swinging with my wife’s best friend and her husband for more than a year; about once every one or two months. We’d do it in our home or theirs, or whenever we’d travel together. Sometimes four of us, sometimes three. It didn’t affect either of our families. But now our child is in school, we don’t have the time.”
...It’s certainly part of the spirit of the age, though: The pursuit of profit and pleasure is perhaps the most authentic Chinese Dream. Group sex is particularly popular among the idle 富二代 (fùèrdài), or second-generation rich....
The whole article (February 13, 2018).