By Brian Lanciault
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China–China has put an end to at least four child-trafficking rings and arrested more than a thousand people. The culprits were apprehended for using websites and instant messaging groups to trade babies, Chinese authorities said Friday.
On February 19, police from 27 provinces across China rescued 382 babies and arrested 1,094 people suspected of buying and selling infants online, China’s Ministry of Public Security said in an online statement posted to its website earlier this week.
The sting was part of a six-month operation launched after police in Beijing and Jiangsu in eastern China received multiple reports of a suspicious website promoting “private” adoptions. Further investigations uncovered a virtual black market — involving four websites, online forums and some 30 groups on a popular Chinese messaging platform — that connected traffickers with potential buyers, and functioned as the gruesome equivalent of stock exchange.
The ministry said that at least a handful of the people arrested confessed to using the trafficking sites.
According to local media reports, 27 suspects were arrested in the country’s southern Sichuan province. Thirteen babies were also rescued in the area. Another 43 suspects were arrested and eleven babies rescued in Anhui province, in eastern China.
A woman arrested by police in Leshan, Sichuan admitted to buying two baby girls from Wuhan and Chengdu, in August 2013 and January 2014, respectively, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Another couple in their mid-30’s told CCTV they used a Chinese website to buy a baby from an expectant teenage couple in Chengdu. They paid 20,000 Yuan (US$3,250) for the child.
Reports have yet to indicate where the other arrests took place.
Child trafficking has become a major issue for the Chinese government, as traffickers seek to profit off a mounting demand for healthy babies from potential adoptive parents both in China and beyond.
Last month, a Chinese doctor received a suspended death sentence for selling babies to a trafficking ring. The woman, an obstetrician at a hospital in Shaanxi province in central China, sold seven babies in six separate transactions. She prompted the exchanges after persuading her patients that their newborns were sick and should be given up, according to statements posted on the local court’s official microblog account.
The ministry said its investigation into the online baby-trading networks is still ongoing. It did not indicate whether charges have been brought against any of the suspects, or if the trafficking extended beyond China.
For more information, please see:
CNN–Chinese police save hundred of babies from online trading racket–28 February 2014
Times of India–Chinese police crush online trafficking, rescue 382 babies–28 February 2014
US News and World Report–Chinese Babies Saved From Human Trafficking Ring–28 February 2014
Global Times–Police save 382 babies in trafficking crackdown–28 February 2014