Foreigners In Shanghai Bar Seize Five-Year-Old From Her Aunt, Thinking She Was Trying To Sell Them Sex

Misunderstandings happen, we get that, but most of the time they’re harmless and can be waved off with a smile and a chuckle. Yet every occasionally, there’s this… here’s the lead from a Shanghai Daily article this morning:

Local police yesterday refuted widespread rumors suggesting that a five-year-old girl was forced to sell sex to foreigners after two expats grabbed the girl from a “human trafficker” at a bar in downtown Jing’an District and alerted police.

Oh. That’s quite a misunderstanding. The story was first publicized on Saturday on the Sina Weibo account of @tinaanddavid before capturing national attention and being picked up by the media.

The two expats were apparently in a bar near Jing’an Temple on Friday when they were approached by a five-year-old girl trying to sell flowers for “five or six” yuan. The girl must have been trying to speak English, because the “six” was mistaken for “sex,” and the two men, in their shock and possibly drunken confusion, seized the girl and wouldn’t return her to her “trafficker” — her aunt, who was nearby.

The two expats rejected the offer, held the girl from the woman and alerted police, who simply asked them to release the girl, much to the duo’s consternation, “Tina” said.


Officer: Okay, folks, mind explaining why you’ve kidnapped this little girl from her aunt?

Tina and David: Officer! This little girl just tried to sell us sex!

Officer, to girl’s aunt: Um. Is this true?

Aunt: My girl is five years old, how can she sell sex???

Officer: Um. Look, the girl’s five years old, I don’t think she was trying to sell you sex.

Tina and David: CONSTERNATION.

The two men involved appear to be the husbands of the owners of the @tinaanddavid and @hanna-oliver Sina Weibo accounts. The Weibos are written primarily in Chinese, so we have little doubt that Tina, David, Hanna and Oliver — whoever they are — are long-time expats, and must know the ways of this culture. What would prompt the two men (David and Oliver, we presume) to grab a five-year-old and call the cops on her aunt is unknown at this point. I’ve reached out to both of them via Weibo, and will update if they reply.

Shanghai Daily reports that @tinaanddavid’s original Sina Weibo message triggered “outrage among netizens.” The outrage, we are left to surmise, was directed at the supposed sex trafficker, which Shanghai police confirmed yesterday was in fact — really, actually — a florist.

    22 Responses to “Foreigners In Shanghai Bar Seize Five-Year-Old From Her Aunt, Thinking She Was Trying To Sell Them Sex”

    1. Silent Fart

      Stupid foreigners eh. Who in their right mind could possibly make the massive assumption that someone exploiting a child to flog flowers to foreign men in a bar could be morally questionable enough to pimp out their little cash cow I mean child too?

      • The Tao

        Uh… I know you’re being sarcastic here, but seriously, do you actually know anyone who would assume such? And not just that — don’t willfully miss the point here — but SEIZE the girl and call the cops?

        P.S. Poverty sucks, huh?

    2. Silent Fart

      No not sober but really, whilst mild and ubiquitous it’s still child exploitation and speaks more of the extreme inequality in China rather than it does the stupidity of some probably drunk foreigners.

      If they had seized the girl and uncovered some sordid Child exploitation scam they would be heralded as heros. I have been in China long enough to expect anything to be plausible especially if I am drunk.

      • Roger

        Exploiting a child to flog flowers is completely and totally different than being involved in human trafficking/forced prostitution. Perhaps the two practices speak to similar inequalities, but I would venture to say that, generally speaking, people involved in one are not involved in the other.

        Also, if you do live in China, why are you drunk-commenting on blogs at 1 oclock in the afternoon on a Monday?

    3. A

      Says something about the attitude of some foreigners in China to assume that being approached by Chinese women (and in this case that young) is selling sex.
      I see kids sell flowers around bar areas in China all the time. I’ve been approached and heard others being approached by these kids before. Never have I heard any of these kids suggesting sex in any way.

    4. Kirby

      As a general comment, I don’t notice kids being used nearly as much as in “commerce” towards foreigners as they used to be, which I guess I will credit to Chinese merchants realizing that drunk foreigners are more likely to buy flowers/balloons/some handi-craft made of woven grass from elderly people or the disabled than they are to purchase them from children that they possibly perceive to be being taken advantage of.

      I also kind of think these foreigners are lucky the police didn’t ask them to compensate the “florist” for preventing her “employee” from engaging in legitimate commerce on the florist’s behalf. That’s the kind of behavior I would expect Chinese police to engage in this kind of situation. I think I am going to credit that with getting the story out on Sina Weibo in a hurry, which required the police to actually do something, instead of taking any steps necessary ensure that the Chinese person in the situation doesn’t complain to their superiors.

    5. Gay_Chevara

      Maybe the laowais were ‘mistaken’ but I bet we don’t see any flower-girls in Shanghai bars for a couple of weeks.

      Misdirected and ill-informed they may or may not have been, but they may put more focus on children being used to hawk money on the streets.

      If so, bloody well done.

    6. Li Mei

      Unless the expats were drinking at 6:00 pm at night, the 5-year-old kid should have already been tucked away to sleep, not being exploited to sell flowers on the street. Was that really her aunt or was that kid stolen from iher village and parents? Would the police even care?

    7. Paul

      Anyone who has been in China for 6 months knows that most Chinese can’t say the short “i” sound and replace it with a short “e” sound. I always joke that many Chinese say 1,2,,3,4,5,sex. This why when you live in a country you should actually learn the language instead so you can resolve situations without getting the cops involved. This mistake is ridiculous at a time when foreigners aren’t held in very high regard.

    8. sascha

      wow. all of you high and mighty couch surfers are jumping on THE FOREIGNER??!! Poverty sucks, but I have been solicited for sex by children in China, Laos, and Thailand and it’s a shock to the system far beyond the sorry spectacle of poverty . I’ll never forget the fact that my horror wasn’t reflected in their eyes, but in their actions. A lot of those kids are goners.

      I would say all you “foreigners are stupid” commenters need to have it happen to you. I applaud their actions and am glad everything turned out all right.

      • Wow

        Wow, there are so many things wrong with your comment.
        To name a few:
        1) Why would you assume the people commenting are couch surfers? How do we know you’re not one yourself?
        2) There are two foreigners, not one. Go read the article again.
        3) You’ve been solicited for sex by children in China, Laos and Thailand. I hope they were at least older than 5 or 6 years old. Because if they weren’t, I can’t help but think those kids (and their aunt or pimps, whoever was telling them to solicit you for sex) thought you looked like a pedophile and would have liked the idea of sex with young children.

        • sascha

          Nice try but that is some weak sauce

          I biked through se Asia and came across villages so broke that as soon as they saw me the village turned out pushing a girl in front of them. And no i didnt.

          You should get out more?

          • Wow

            Now I’ve always wondered in the situation you’ve just described if they are selling you sex, or if they’re hoping you’d take the child to a “better” place.

            I do get out of China, I’ve traveled to some rural places in a number of countries, and in my opinion, usually they’re quite innocent and really all they want is a chance for a better life.

        • Fred

          No, your English is wrong. ‘The foreigner’ refers to a general idea of ‘ foreigner’ so it’s singular.

          He isnt a couch surfer; he knows because he experienced underaged solicitation in three different countries. Hence ‘ not couch surfer’.

          Your last comment was an ad hominem attack. And pay due regard o the seriouness of child prostitution.

          Did you know that 70,000 kidsare abducted and oldin China every year? There is even a ‘ kids market’ in a Shan Dong village. Th polic ont investigate because it loses face or Chba.

    9. Fred

      I lived in Linyi Shan Dong. The police had just cracked a child a duction ring in Hedong right where I was teaching.

      70,000 abductions a year.

      Why dont parents get kids frm orphanages ifthey want a kid? Because the kids in orphanages are often handicapped according to reports.

      Police refuseo report these abductions be ause it loses face or thir city. So he parents go round showing decks of cards o other parents with their kids photo on it.

      Sex trafficking is only one issue with kids in China.

      India might be worse though..

    10. KMG

      reminds me of a child sex incident in the mid nineties in Beijing, some guy who worked for a western embassy was sent back home for taking the flower girls outside of Minders, Nashvile to spend the night with him in the embassy.


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