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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK

World: Far East

China's youth wants sexual freedom

Young urban Chinese just want to have fun - including sex

The results of China's first-ever sex survey show an increase in openness on sexual matters, which were a taboo subject for decades after the Communist revolution.

The survey shows that more than half of China's urban youth agree with pre-marital sex, while one-third approve of extra-marital relationships.

A total of 6,500 young people, aged between 14 and 28, were questioned by a Communist Party organization, and the results were published in the official media.

One of the most striking figures is that one-third of those surveyed said they believed extra-marital sex was "a natural outcome of love".

Extra-marital affairs are thought to play a major part in the spread of STDs, which increased by 37% in China last year.

China also has rapidly increasing HIV rates, the virus which can lead to Aids.

Authorities tolerate new freedoms

[ image: Younger Chinese are enjoying more sexual freedoms than ever before]
Younger Chinese are enjoying more sexual freedoms than ever before
Far from appearing concerned, the report's author, Wu Lu Ping, told the BBC that he believed the survey showed the positive qualities of increased openness, tolerance and self-reliance among China's urban youth.

These attitudes are in sharp contrast to the views of older Chinese, who grew up in the decades after the Communist revolution, when sexual matters were considered completely taboo and extra-marital sex was deemed a crime.

However, some young people surveyed did hold more traditional views. A third believed that extra-marital affairs are wrong and should be punished.

Another 12% said they would prefer to remain celibate.

But most young people - at least in China's cities - appear to have embraced sexual freedom partly in an act of rebellion against their parents' attitudes.

The authorities seem to be taking a tolerant view. A network of 2,000 sex shops, with a turnover estimated at $20m, is flourishing throughout the country.

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