Chinese police close shared sex-doll rental service

‘Shared girlfriend’ raises ire as subscription schemes grow ever more popular in Beijing

An example of a rentable sex doll marketed as a “shared girlfriend”:  shared bikes and umbrellas are commonplace in China but this latest initiative crossed a line  as far as the Communist Party is concerned. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

An example of a rentable sex doll marketed as a “shared girlfriend”: shared bikes and umbrellas are commonplace in China but this latest initiative crossed a line as far as the Communist Party is concerned. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

 

A Chinese sex-doll rental service has become the latest casualty in a morality campaign ahead of a key Communist Party congress next month. The innovative “shared girlfriend” service has been ordered to shut down just days after it opened.

The promoter of the silicon-based shared girlfriend, a sex-product retailer called Touch, said in a statement that authorities had ordered it to stop its service and it would explore “healthier and more harmonious” ways for people to diversify their sex lives.

“We express our deepest apologies for the bad influence the shared girlfriend had on society,” the company said, according to the Beijing News.

In an editorial, the newspaper condemned the vulgarity of the product and said it hoped it would not damage the thriving market for sharing schemes in China, where people are sharing everything from bikes to umbrellas. There are 2.4 million shared bikes on the streets of Beijing alone, prompting a ban this week on deliveries of new two-wheelers to the capital because of traffic problems.

Congress

“Harmonious” is a key word in the Chinese vocabulary ahead of the crucial 19th congress next month at which President Xi Jinping will consolidate his grip on power.

In the run-up to the event, there has been a tightening of control over the media and anything that might cause a stir before the gathering.

The five doll offerings included a “Greek bikini model”, “Wonder Woman”, “Russian teenager”, “Korean housewife” and “Hong Kong car race cheerleader”. The toys could be rented from 298 yuan (€38) per night under the scheme launched just last week. Users were required to pay an 8,000 yuan (€1,014) deposit. Police also fined the associated app developer, which is based in Xiamen in southern China.

The company’s website had posted pictures of the dolls on the Beijing subway, and hailed its commitment to hygiene.