The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) passed a law on penalties for offenses against public order Sunday, which cover streetwalkers, pimps and football hooligans for the first time.
The law is to replace a set of regulations of the same nature promulgated 25 years ago.
"The phenomenon of streetwalkers or pimps soliciting customers for prostitution in public places, especially the streets, has become a serious problem. Relevant people deserve to be punished as the phenomenon has gravely eroded social values and affected public order," said Yang Jingyu, chairman of the Law Committee of the NPC Standing Committee.
There was no provision on this specific issue in the previous regulations.
According to the law, to take effect as of March 1, 2006, a person will be detained for a period less than five days or fined a sum below 500 yuan (US$61.65) if he or she is found of finding customers for prostitution in public places.
The 119-article law, a guide on issuing penalties on offenses against public order, also contains provisions on penalizing football hooligans and other offenses.
Meanwhile, it has removed the clause of forbidding "begging activities of vagrants" that disrupt public order and infringe upon the right of the person and a few others in the previous regulations to conform with spirits of modern public administration, says a law expert.
Legislation on penalties for offenses against public order is considered to be closely linked with interests of the people. In 2003 alone, Chinese police handled 5 million cases in this field, involving more than 10 million people.
(Xinhua News Agency August 28, 2005)