The Chinese government has widened a crackdown on prostitution, gambling and drug use to major provinces across the country, according to reports in state-run news organizations. The Ministry of Public Security carried out the first step in the nationwide sweep, which began on Feb. 10 in the southern city of Dongguan, where prostitution had long been tolerated as a significant part of the local economy. Since the start of the sweep, police units across China had investigated almost 1,500 cases related to prostitution, uncovered 73 criminal gangs, arrested more than 500 people and shut down more than 2,400 sites where sex was for sale, Beijing News reported Tuesday, February 18th. The new crackdown appears intended to send a message similar to the so-called anticorruption campaign promoted by President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party leader. Mr. Xi has made it a goal to force recalcitrant elements of the party to fall in line with the central leadership.

(The New York Times, Bloomberg, BBC, USA TODAY, February 17, 2014)