Four Indian businessmen, part of a 100-member delegation attending an international motor fair in Shanghai, were detained following a prostitution raid on a hotel in the city, officials in the Indian Consulate said.
The four were accused by local police of hiring prostitutes, an offence that is illegal in China. They are in the custody of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, or police authority, and have met with officials from the Indian Consulate, which has said it will help arrange legal support if required.
Details not clear
The details of the raid are unclear, and neither the Indians' legal representatives nor members of the delegation could be contacted. If found guilty, the Indians will, at the very least, face deportation and fines.
Under Chinese law, they can also face possible jail terms, although sentences for foreigners have varied in the past.
Some have been let off with deportation and cancelled visas, while others have spent time in jail ranging from a few weeks to several months, according to a lawyer who has handled such cases.
Prostitution is illegal under Chinese law. Prostitutes do, however, operate openly in many Chinese metropolises such as Shanghai, where they are known to approach foreign tourists and businessmen in the city's tourist districts and even advertise their services in official-run newspapers and magazines for expatriates.
In 2010, Chinese officials deported Eastern European women after they served time in jail for being involved in the prostitution business in Shanghai. In that case, they spent 15 days in jail and were told they will not be able to re-enter China. Their five clients, who were Chinese nationals, were fined 500 yuan (Rs. 4,300).
“Their actions will leave a bad influence on society and have violated Chinese law,” a Shanghai police officer told state media about that case, warning that the sentence for those organising prostitution was “10 years or even life.”