ZHUHAI, Guangdong, China – Operators of Chinese Web "sex chat rooms" have been sentenced to two to four years in prison.
According to the South Metropolis Daily newspaper, one of the five defendants sentenced was Li Wei, who managed the network and allegedly made more than 120,000 yuan ($17,600). He received a sentence of two years in jail with three years' probation, which means no actual time behind bars if he maintains the probation guidelines.
ChinaDaily reports that the Xiangzhou district court ruled Li, 28, was just an "accessory to the crime."
The mastermind of the operation, Li Xun, is from Taiwan and was sentenced to four years in prison. The court said he served as an agent for "several Taiwan-based porn chat websites," had been running the business in Zhuhai since early 2005, and recruited a number various assistants working as "managers and financial staff" the court said.
The assistants also recruited girls from across the country to log on to the chat rooms and to take part in sex chats with men, who paid to join in at a rate of anywhere between 1 Taiwan dollar (a quarter of a yuan) to 20 Taiwan dollars for every minute of the conversation.
The court claimed the operation brought in "hundreds of thousands of yuan" daily and nost of the network's clients were said to be Taiwan-based men.
The network arrests were made in March, including Li Xun, Li Wei, three other assistants and five "chat girls".
"Most such networks cooperate with overseas porn websites so that the servers of the networks are set up outside the Chinese mainland," Lu Feilong, manager of a Guangzhou-based Internet firm told ChinaDaily. "Even if the police manage crack the networks in the mainland, the big fish sitting overseas can still operate the websites and will sooner or later build up new networks in China."