A Chinese man who claims to have opened the country’s first sex doll hotel is upset after authorities in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen forced him to close his shops.

Li Bo, who ran two sex doll hotels in town, told Sixth Tone that police had sealed both properties, which are popular with thousands of local migrant workers. Li marketed its flagship as the “first life-size sex doll hotel” in the country, where men can spend 188 yuan ($ 28) for an hour of intimate time with inanimate items.

“There was no explanation or legal documentation from the authorities,” Li told Sixth Tone, adding that uniformed police sealed the buildings last Thursday while a customer was still on site.

Sixth Tone’s calls to the Bantian District Public Security Bureau, which manages one of the facilities, went unanswered Thursday.

Li opened his first sex doll hotel in 2018 in the Longhua neighborhood of Shenzhen, home to several large multinational corporations, including electronics giant Foxconn. Last December, he opened a second office in the Bantian District. The 34-year-old said he started his business after discovering that there were around 120,000 male factory workers with limited resources to meet their sexual needs.

Photos of one of the recently closed sex doll hotels for migrant workers in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, March 2021. Courtesy of Li Bo

Although not a new concept, Sex dolls and have sex doll hotels Acquired popularity in China since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Big cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Tianjin have several such hotels – some have dozens – with regular clientele. according to to domestic media.

As such businesses have grown in popularity, authorities have begun to keep an eye on them, especially after it was discovered that minors were visiting the premises. according to to the state news agency Xinhua. There were also concerns about poor hygiene and hygiene, as well as possible exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.

However, Li said that in addition to customer privacy, his hotels also pay attention to hygiene and sanitation. He added that he was particularly nervous elsewhere following the closure of similar facilities.

Shanghai-based attorney Ding Jinkun told Sixth Tone that there are no specific regulations governing the operation of sex doll hotels in China.

“The legal problems that such businesses could face could be related to hygiene or illegal business operations,” Ding said. “But there is currently no legal ban on this type of business in China.”

Online, the suspension of Li’s Hotels was a hot topic on the microblogging website Weibo, with one related hashtag As of Thursday afternoon, over 140 million visitors will be attracted.

“As long as the hygiene problems are properly resolved and there are only a limited number of facilities, I don’t see the problem here.” wrote a Weibo user. “Do people have no sexual needs? Not everyone can have or afford romantic relationships. “

Meanwhile, Li said some of his regular customers called to see if the business was illegal and when the hotel could reopen. He remembers a customer who asked him, “Is playing with dolls illegal now?”

At the moment he doesn’t have a definitive answer.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A sex doll in a sex doll hotel in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, 2020. Du Xinyu / Sixth tone)