Fate of ancient brothel hangs in the balance in China

BEIJING, Aug 17 (AFP) – A city in central China is agonizing over whether it should preserve an ancient building that once housed a brothel in case it is seen as promoting prostitution, state media said Thursday. The problem is that if the authorities at Jinggang in Hunan province decide not to save the structure, they may be seen as indifferent to the value of cultural relics, Xinhua said.

Built in 1733, the brothel is now on the verge of collapse and the city government must reach a decision one way or the other, the agency said.

It is getting little help from the public, as some vehemently oppose keeping it while others are passionately against tearing it down.

“The brothel was a place where women were humiliated in the old society,” said retired university teacher Xiao Yisheng, arguing it represented “the worst aspects of China’s former feudal system.”

Hunan University graduate Tan Feng said the site was bound to prompt different reactions from different people. “When I entered the brothel, it reminded me that it was a place where the ancients indulged in sensual pleasures,” Tan said.