The Scourge of Prostitution in Contemporary China: The “Bao Ernai” Phenomenon

Barbara Onnis


China in the post-Mao era was transformed by a veritable economic miracle and simultaneously underwent a series of radical époque-making changes in the Chinese ruling classes’ political and ideological approach to government. The continued rapid growth and the expansion of a consumer society have also contributed to the discrediting of those traditional values which for many years underpinned and fortified the force of communism. In addition to the demise of traditional values, the waning belief in Maoist ideology and the rise of consumerism as the new ideological credo, there have also been transformations in some of the main pillars of Chinese society, in particular the family, as a result of a resurgence of social practices that were thought to belong to the past. The most widespread in contemporary China is the “bao ernai” phenomenon, or the taking of a second wife, which involves mainly businessmen and politicians, strictly related to the increase of corruption. The increasingly worrying proportions assumed in recent years by such practice, while risking to compromise the sustenance of the much exalted harmonious society, have favoured the emergence of a heated debate inside the Chinese society.

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Asian Culture and History   ISSN 1916-9655(Print)   ISSN 1916-9663 (Online)

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