The illegal market for babies and children in China has grown a great deal over the last decade. Official numbers put the number of abducted children at anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 per year. The kidnapped children are usually from poor families and can be sold for up to £10,500/$16,000 per male child.
If these children are lucky, they’ll be adopted into families, otherwise they end up working as prostitutes or slave laborers.
BBC A nurse looks after a rescued baby in a hospital, Sichuan, 2012
Officially the People’s Republic has been trying to stop the problem but there have been cases of government officials being involved in the trafficking and in forging fake documents for the children so that they can be sold. Parents of missing children complain of no help or only late help from the police.
Many parents look for the children themselves, like Xiao Chaohua who sold his clothes shop in 2007 after his son was abducted to look for him.
BBC Xiao Chaohua has been looking for his five-year-old son, Xiaosong, since 2007
For many, China’s policy of one child is one of the reasons behind the booming market. If parents don’t want to risk giving birth to daughters (seen as having lesser value in Chinese culture), they opt to buy a baby. Apart from that, international interest in adopting a baby from China has also grown.
International clients pay steep fees for the babies but there have been cases of babies being rejected for some reason and ending up in orphanages.
theguardian Dong Shanshan, who was told her baby wouldn’t survive, is reunited with her baby son.
Social factors like little or no penalty have encouraged the business to flourish. Traffickers can face up to 3 years in prison if they are charged, which is not usually the case. Many traffickers have now taken to selling babies online, where buyers can have a look at the baby before purchase.
One baby from a pair of twins was offered for sale online by his supposed mother (video below). Authorities were alerted but nothing was done about it.