• Calling cards litter the ground outside a casino in Macau on July 29, 2013.

Calling cards litter the ground outside a casino in Macau on July 29, 2013. (Photo : Getty Images)

Police in southern China’s Guangdong Province will be establishing a special task force to investigate and crack down on the online promotion of prostitution, which has been rapidly expanding via social media in cities along the Pearl River Delta.

"After great efforts by law enforcement bodies to fight prostitution in local entertainment venues in past months, many organizers and operators now publish advertisements in QQ chat rooms, on WeChat, through mobile phone message texts and other instant messaging services," said Peng Hui, deputy director-general of the Guangdong Department of Public Security.

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"The new digital methods being used to lure customers in the prosperous province have created many difficulties for the police," Peng said at a news conference in Guangzhou on Thursday. "Therefore, effective and concrete measures should soon be taken to fight this sort of crime."

Peng also urged for further expansion in cooperation between law enforcement and banks, telecommunication companies, government departments and other organizations to take down activities that pose a threat to the people's everyday lives.

In November, police launched a special 100-day campaign dubbed "Net Oriole" that targeted gambling and promotion of prostitution online, particularly those of organizers and operators, gang leaders and key gang members, bankers, and other individuals who profit from prostitution and gambling.

The winter months, especially that of the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday season, is usually the peak period for online prostitution and gambling in Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong and Macau, Peng said.

He urged residents to inform police of illegal activities and promised to reward tipsters who provide information that enables police to crack down on such activities.

In the first 11 months of 2015, police across Guangdong have arrested 119,710 suspects and reported 53,529 cases of prostitution and gambling.

Shenzhen police caught 103 suspects after busting a gang engaging in prostitution online in March. The suspects were from 28 provinces, municipalities and regions across mainland China. In the nearby city of Zhongshan, 24 suspects were detained in a similar case in May, officials said.