chapter  5
17 Pages

A trafficking ‘not-spot’ in a China–Vietnam border town

ByZHANG JUAN

In April 2009, a bittersweet love story set in the China-Vietnam border town of Hekou hit major cinemas across China. Red River tells the tale of Ah Tao, a 17-year-old innocent Vietnamese girl, and a middle-aged Chinese hustler, Ah Xia. The film’s main protagonist, Ah Tao, was persuaded to work in the massage parlour-cum-brothel that her aunt had opened in Hekou. Like her aunt, she crossed the Red River and entered Hekou in China’s Yunnan province illegally by boat. She worked in her aunt’s parlour as a cleaner and a masseuse for a while until she was enticed by Ah Xia to work in his street-side mobile karaoke stall singing duets with Chinese customers, who would ogle at her youthful beauty. Ah Tao and Ah Xia gradually fall in love but are then parted by circumstances.