Children smuggling

More parents report missing children after baby-smuggling ring smashed in China

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 12:42pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 3:38pm

At least seven families have come forward to report their children missing after police in Shaanxi smashed a sophisticated child-smuggling operation involving an obstetrician last week, Chinese media reports.

Fan Ningning, a female villager who lived in Weinan city’s Fuping County, said that in recent years she had twice given birth at a local maternal hospital, the Beijing News reported. Fan said she had been told by a doctor to “discard” her babies because they had “congenital diseases”. She now believes her children are still alive and living with a “host family”.

Fan’s hopes of seeing her children again were sparked by the high-profile police operation which uncovered the human trafficking operation. Newspapers in China on Monday reported that Fuping police rescued a newborn boy from its host family in nearby Henan province. The infant had allegedly been abducted by an obstetrician and sold to human traffickers.

Police have also arrested Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician working at a hospital for children. She had allegedly persuaded a couple to give up their child last month, after informing them he was infected with hepatitis and syphilis, police said. Worried the “sick baby” could be a heavy financial burden, the parents allowed Zhang to “dispose” of it.

State media reported on Tuesday that the baby boy had been reunited with his parents, mother Dong Shanshan and father Lai Guofeng. “Dong held him tightly as family members wept before the parents knelt to thank police for recovering the infant,” the China Daily said.

Police also detained two other people accused of re-selling babies, the newspaper reported citing police sources. The doctor sold the baby for around 21,000 yuan to a member of the child smuggling ring. This man then sold the child for 50,000 yuan to another criminal suspect, who handed it to the host family for 60,000 yuan, the report explained.

Yet there are other cases reported. A spokesman for Fuping police told the paper that they had received seven similar reports from other families. More reports are likely.

Elaborating on the case of Fan Ningning, the Beijing News reported that she had given birth to a girl and a boy in 2008 and 2009. When a doctor told her the children had congenital diseases, no physical examination was performed on them, nor was Fan asked to sign a letter of consent allowing them to be taken away from her.

Child trafficking is a serious problem in China. It is often blamed on the “one-child” policy which has put a premium on families having baby boys. Consequently, baby girls are sometimes sold off, abandoned, or put up for adoption.

Under the policy, which aims at controlling China’s more than 1.3 billion population, people in urban areas are generally allowed only one child, while rural families can have two - if the first is a girl.

In a much publicised case, Chinese police rescued 89 children and arrested 355 suspects last December after breaking up a series of child trafficking rings.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse