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China Focus: Shanghai auto show may ban sexy models


SHANGHAI, (Xinhua) -- The female models in revealing dresses who stole the spotlight at past car shows may not appear at this year's Shanghai Automotive Exhibition (SAE).

Yang Xueliang, director of public relations for Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd, said on his microblog on Friday that he was informed by the organizing committee of the SAE that "auto show models are to be banned this year."

"It is best to cancel the performances, so as to let visitors enjoy a quiet exhibition," he said.

Xinhua received a statement from the organizing committee that said that the proposed ban is not a final decision. "We are soliciting public opinion to improve the exhibition," it said. "We haven't ruled out the possibility of banning auto show girls."

The Shanghai Automotive Exhibition will kick off on April 22 this year.

The organizing committee didn't give the reason it is considering canceling the models, but there has been speculation by Chinese media that the organizers are facing mounting security pressure.

A stampede at Shanghai's historic riverfront walk that killed 36 people during New Year's Eve celebrations cast a shadow over urban management and emergency response in China's crowded cities.

After the tragedy, Beijing authorities tightened supervision on sales promotions in shops and supermarkets, while the Shanghai government announced that mass gatherings and activities will face stricter registration procedures and will be canceled if they violate safety rules.

Some others speculate the move comes out of moral concern, after Chinese censors cropped scenes showing revealing costumes from the historical TV drama "The Empress of China."

An unnamed public relations consultant told Xinhua that "the more attractive the models are, the better publicity a brand can gain."

"It is a hidden rule in our industry," he said. "Everyone is brainstorming about how to make their car models seductive."

As a result, the models' clothing has become increasingly skimpy. Some of them have even worn see-through costumes without underwear. The half-naked women are embarrassing to some visitors, especially those attending with children.

A Mr. Li in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said he regretted bringing his ten-year-old son to an automotive exhibition last year. "He loves cars," said the father. "But it was no 'automobile show.' It was a 'body show.'"

The possibility of a ban has been praised by many.

"Finally, we are taking visitors' focus from breasts to cars," said an Internet user.

But others noted that the policy shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all ban. The annual North America International Auto Show, one of the world's five largest auto shows, also has car models.

"Hiring models is a tradition, a method of promotion," said another web user, Hu Jiang. "We should have them as long as they don't grab the public's attention in an erotic way."

Qiao Xinsheng, director of the research center for social development with Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, said that the organizers should bear in mind that cars should have the leading role at the exhibition.

"More efforts should be mounted regarding the technique, function, quality, appearance, and after-sale service of cars to win the hearts of consumers," said Cao Shiliang, sales director of a Dongfeng Motor Corporation outlet.



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