A dancing school in Guilin, in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous
Region, broke the law when it arranged for its students to work as bar girls,
legal experts said.
"Organizing paid hostess services is against the law in China. Introducing
underage students to the field is even worse because it harms them both
physically and psychologically," said Qiu Baochang, dean of the Beijing-based
Huijia Law Firm.
He added that such activities also broke the Law on the Protection of Minors.
Xinhua News Agency first reported that Guilin Intermediate Vocational Dance
School had sent 22 teenagers to work in bars and nightclubs in Hangzhou, the
capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, early last month.
The school has faced severe criticism since the reports became public.
"All of the 22 students who were sent to Hangzhou returned yesterday," an
official at Guilin's education department, surnamed Lu, said.
"The media have not exaggerated their coverage. This is a case of
negligence," Lu said. "We are going to deal with it according to the relevant
rules and regulations."
Yuan Bentao, a professor at Tsinghua University's Education Research
Institute, criticised the school.
"It is so obviously wrong for the school to give its students such so-called
internship opportunities," Yuan said. "Vocational schools focus more on
real-life professional skills. Sending students to work as paid hostesses has
nothing to do with such principles."
"It is even more important that private schools like this maintain a
respectable image so that they can survive in China's competitive education
marketplace," Yuan said.
While Qiu took a hasher tone.
"The school has shown its moral degeneracy by introducing its students to
work as bar girls," Qiu said. "In the interest of protecting minors, I suggest
that the education and public security departments launch an investigation into
Qiu also noted the burden of reputation that private schools face.
"These schools have to improve their teaching if they hope to have good
reputations, otherwise they will easily fall into a vicious circle."
Meanwhile, China's netizens have also been energized by the report.
"Isn't the school a pimp!"
"Officials with the school should be put into jail!"
These indignant messages appeared in a chat room at the major Internet portal
Xinhua News reported that the school had recruited many of the students from
poverty-stricken areas in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. After giving them a
semester's training, the school sent the students to Hangzhou for "dancing
performances." These performances were treated as internships.
The students' parents were told that their children would perform at
well-regulated places and would each be paid 750 yuan (US$94) a month, Xinhua
However, a teacher who escorted the students onto the bus told them not to
tell their families about what they were doing. The teacher encouraged them to
bring their concerns to other teachers.
"A senior schoolmate picked us up in Hangzhou and took away our student and
identity cards," one 15-year-old student was quoted by Xinhua as saying. "She
told us to dress in a mature way and to tell people that we were already 19
A 16-year-old who had never drunk alcohol before said she was forced to drink
eight glasses of wine on her fourth day at work. She said her classmates
frequently returned to the dorm drunk and cried at night that they wanted to go
Xinhua said each student earned 100 yuan (US$12.5) a night, with 50 yuan
(US$7.5) going to an agent, 25 yuan (US$3.75) to the dance school and 25 yuan to
School Chairman Guo Guisheng argued that it was not "inappropriate" for the
girls to exchange toasts as courtesy and that he was "doing a good deed" as most
of the students were from poor families.