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Naturist retreat may cause stink

A NATURIST swimming resort to be opened in eastern China's Zhejiang Province tomorrow has ignited heated discussion in China where public nudity is still taboo.

The resort in Lin'an County is the second attempt by local people to have a naturist tourist site. The first nude pool in Lin'an opened five years ago but was closed two weeks later under fierce public criticism.

The resort consists of two 300-square-meter natural ponds halfway up the mountain, one for men and one for women. The women's pool is 100 meters away from the men's. A thick bamboo grove blocks the view between the ponds and security are ready to chase away Peeping Toms.

Like before, the resort also hit newspaper headlines and was widely discussed.

The resort faces grim prospects as naturism is taboo in a country where even TV ads for condoms are subject to scorn, said Zhang Xin, marketing director of Amazing Travel's branch in China.

Naturism has its root in western culture as Europeans were eager for self-expression after the Renaissance, which has little to do with the Chinese culture, said a column in Qilu Evening News in eastern China's Shandong Province.

"A naked pool is totally unacceptable in Chinese tradition and social customs. China need not to be in line with international practice in this regard," the column concluded.

Tang Yalei, a scholar of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, said the naturist swimming pools are merely a business and some people are trying to make quick money out of it.

Most people may not accept naturism, but it is unnecessary to judge the morality of people who enjoy it, Tang said.

"Besides, as men and women are separated, it is not much different from a public bathhouse," Tang said.

The naturist pools also have supporters. Fang Gang, a sexologist in Beijing, said "naturism bridges the gaps between people. Naturism beaches will spread in China as they do in other parts of the world."

A survey by the province's major Website Zhejiang Online showed more than 40 percent of the netizens said "yes" to the naturist resort while 30 percent regarded it as immoral.

"I'm prepared for the worst case where no one comes," said Xu Fake, developer of the resort.


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