A human trafficking ring was unveiled in eastern China this January when authorities rescued 15 infants, some of them from their own mothers.
The case began last September when police discovered a couple travelling between Shandong Province and Sichuan, a southwestern province. The couple would buy babies in Liangshan, Sichuan, and transport them to Shandong for sale.
Chen Shiqu, director of the police agency that handles kidnapping, told the state-run Shandong Television that the ringleader was a certain Mr. Ha.
“He arranged for expectant pregnant women to go to Linxi, Shandong, to sell the babies upon birth,” Chen said.
Police raiding the trafficking operation found a derelict house with foul air. Three male suspects lived in one room, while eight women and their newborns shared two rooms totalling about 100 square feet in area.
The police only then learned that the babies belonged to the women at the house. One of the officers, Wang Huanzeng, told the provincial broadcaster that one woman, from Sichuan, said she had come to Shandong for work and that the child was her own.
“Later we confirmed that the child was indeed hers, but she was ready to sell it,” Wang said.
Among the children was a several-day-old pair of twins. A mother-to-be was found about 7 or 8 months into her pregnancy; the baby to be sold upon delivery.
Babies were divided by the traffickers into the categories of “greater goods”—boys—worth 40,000 yuan (about $6,000) and “lesser goods”—girls—worth 30,000 yuan. Boys could fetch up to 60,000 yuan.
“The baby is a life, he has his own rights,” said Lin Haiyan, a policewoman who was at the scene. “It is too inhumane to treat him as a commercial product, whether the victim is the child itself or the mother who give birth in order to sell it.”
It’s unclear when the baby trafficking trade began, but the Sichuan-Shandong ring is by no means the first of its sort.
Under the longstanding one-child-policy, relaxed late last year after about 35 years of enforcement, many Chinese parents lamented the inability to have a son to pass down the family line.
At the same time, the significant gap between rich and poor, exacerbated by a poor social security system, drives many impoverished Chinese to desperate measures for want of money. Many of these people are migrant workers from the western Chinese hinterland, which has been largely left behind the wealthier coastal provinces of the east.
Last January, China Central Television reported that a covert delivery room was discovered in the basement of an abandoned factory in Jining, Shandong. Those running the operation would find pregnant women from around the country to give up their babies for sale. The women would give birth in the factory, receive financial compensation, and return home, and their babies would sell for between 50,000 and 60,000 yuan.
Of the 37 babies saved from the factory, almost all were affected with diseases, including syphilis and AIDS, which they inherited from their mothers.
Sun Jun, spokesperson for the Supreme People’s Court, said in 2015 that “most of the kidnapped children were sold or abandoned by their own parents.”
“The need creates the market for selling and buying children,” says Xu Songlin, head of law school of South China University of Technology, in an interview with Southern Metropolis Daily. The financial interest is the main reason that biological parents sell their babies.
Based on the published verdicts, (Southern Metropolis Daily Conclusion), economic reason is one of the main reasons. Some are too poor to raise their children, or are straddled with gambling debts or medical expenses. Others had children out of wedlock and have no easy option for raising them.
Having children in excess of the stipulated family planning limit was another motivation. Some parents already have three to four children at home. In 2014, before the two-child-policy was promulgated, it would be difficult to grant the children legal recognition for residential purposes.