Police dismiss report that 200,000 children abducted in China yearly
A senior police official dismissed a state media report that some 200,000 children disappear in China every year.
China National Radio reported the figure in a nighttime newscast on Saturday, fuelling an ongoing debate about how children should be better protected from exploitation and harm. Over the last weeks, several reports of sexual abuse of primary school childern have caused an outcry throughout China. Cases of child trafficking appear regularly in Chinese newscasts.
“According to incomplete statistical figures, around 200,000 children disappear in China every year; only 0.1 per cent are found and returned,” the report said. China does not publish figures on how many children are abducted or sold every year.
Police denied the report. “This figure is untrue. There is no basis for it,” Chen Shiqu, the head of the Ministry of Public Security’s department in charge of handling children abductions, said in a microblog post. The office was set up in 2007.
Last month, Chen’s department said it had solved 54,000 cases of trafficked children between April 2009 and the end of 2012.
The trafficking industry was “booming”, Chen said in April. Traffickers buy children for about 30,000 yuan (HK$37,000) and sell them for 70,000 yuan to 90,000 yuan, he said.
The report also started a debate on what critics call lenient punishment for those who buy children from human traffickers.
“In most cases, they won’t be held criminally responsible, and even if they are punished, it will be an administrative fine,” columnist Qiao Zhifeng wrote on Hongwang, a Hunan provincial portal. “As long as there is no penalty for it, the cost of committing the crime is low.”
China should establish a database collecting infants’ fingerprints, blogger Zhou Pengan suggested.
In 2009, Chen's department has set up an online database for missing children, but it contains only 60 cases.
Last year, state media reported on 80 children taken from their families by family-planning officials in a county in rural Guizhou province. The families had exceeded their family planning quotas. The children were put in an orphanage and later sold to Europe and the US for US$3,000 each, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.