How a Chinese tourist hotspot is helping to trace China’s abducted children

Park in Henan province prints details of missing youngsters on its tickets over the Spring Festival

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2018, 10:38am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 1:40pm

A Chinese tourist attraction has printed details of 300 missing children on its entrance tickets to help find some of the tens of thousands of youngsters believed abducted from their families across the country.

The tickets were issued to visitors at the China Hanyuan Park in Kaifeng in Henan province over the Lunar New Year holiday, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The names and faces of the missing children, along with phone numbers for their parents, were printed on the back of the entrance tickets.

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“There are easily over a million visits here for the temple gathering during the Spring Festival and we thought we might do something to help find the missing children,” a woman working at the attraction was quoted as saying.

The staff started gathering information about missing children from the internet at the start of January.

They also made a bulletin board about the missing youngsters at the entrance of the park’s main square.

The missing children came from all over the country and some had not been seen by their families for years, the report said.

Child abduction and trafficking has been a serious problem for decades in China. The US State Department and Chinese state media estimate the true number of cases each year could range between 20,000 and 100,000.

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Many of the children are sold to be adopted in China or overseas.

A campaign from 2009 to 2012 rescued more than 35,000 kidnapped children and arrested 9,000 trafficking gangs, according to Chinese state media.

Even so, the number of missing children found is low, prompting volunteers to create a number of websites to help trace missing youngsters.

The issue remains highly sensitive for the government as parents of missing children petition or try to create publicity to pressure the authorities into making greater efforts to find their child.

Analysts have blamed the former one-child policy for fuelling demand for the trade in children among traditional families who were limited in their chances to give birth to a boy.

The park’s initiative won praise from internet users, but some said the authorities should be making greater efforts to tackle the issue.

“How come [the government] still can’t solve the problem after so many years?” one person wrote. “Seems the efforts are all spent on maintaining social stability.”

Another internet user said he was moved by the pictures of the missing children. “It’s unbearable just looking at them.”