(NaturalNews) Chinese authorities have disrupted four online baby-selling rings, rescuing 382 infants in the process and crippling a trend toward high-end, highly organized, Internet-based baby trafficking, news outlets in Beijing have reported recently.
Summarizing those reports, The New York Times cited Liu Ancheng, head of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security's criminal investigation division, who told The Beijing News that police had made some 100 arrests all over the country, which was evidence he described as "a new situation and a new change" to an old, existing problem in the country.
"Our police will counter this with toughness and pressure and will in the future continue to attack this with strength," Liu said, according to the Times, which continued:
News media reports, citing police accounts, identified the four websites as Realize Your Dream for a Family, Everyone Wants Me, Adopt8 and China Orphan Net. About 30 instant-messenger groups on the popular Tencent QQ service were used by buyers and sellers to meet virtually before meeting in person, the news reports said, and many sellers advertised themselves as single, unmarried women unable to raise a child. [emphases added]
One of the sites, Realize Your Dream, even had a virtual storefront on a popular e-commerce site, according to Chinese media reports.
'They are well-hidden and very deceptive'
Here's how it worked: Sale of babies centered on money deposited by the buyer and retrieved by the seller in what were called "gold jewelry units" worth 6,500 renminbi (or about $1,060) apiece. The store owner -- the founder of the site, who is now reportedly under arrest -- received a commission per "unit," according to China National Radio.
Prices for children varied, but generally speaking, girls sold for far less than boys. A girl might sell for as little as 35,000 renmimbi, or about $5,700, but boys -- more highly valued in Chinese society -- went for about $7,340. In "gold jewelry units," girls were worth about five, and boys about seven.
"Child traffickers have now taken the fight online, using 'unofficial adoption' as a front," said an unidentified police official, according to China's state news agency, Xinhua. "They are well-hidden and very deceptive."
A number of the babies appeared as though they were sold voluntarily; none of the reports indicated if any of them had been stolen. "The origin of a lot of these babies is unclear," Zheng Hao, a member of the Internet security branch of the Beijing police, told The Beijing News.
The buying and selling of children in China is specifically prohibited under the country's Adoption Law, but it is nonetheless a very lucrative business, as well as a longstanding one.
"Children are not commodities," Chen Shiqu, director of the Ministry of Public Security's human-trafficking task force, told China National Radio. "Selling babies online is in reality kidnapping and selling for money."
"By going online it was more concealed," he added. "The goal was to evade detection."
Zheng said that the investigation into the online sites lasted seven months, during which time police "would find that as one side was announcing the purchase of a baby, another would announce the sale of a baby. It was very chaotic and complicated."
'I quite regret it now'
In its report, China National Radio said that, in the city of Leshan, in Sichuan Province, one baby, Xiao Chou, who was under six months of age, was being dressed by the family who had bought her as police readied to take her away.
"I paid 34,000 renminbi," or about $5,000, a farmer told the radio station.
The owner of the Realize Your Dream site, identified as Mr. Zhou and interviewed by the radio station, said he had initially begun the site while involved in his own efforts to adopt, after he and his wife discovered they could not have children.
"In the beginning I wanted to help people who wanted to adopt," he said. "I had been through that myself. But slowly it changed into a profit thing."
"As it became a profit thing, well, by then it was different," he said. "I quite regret it now. If I could do it again, I'd choose to shut down the website."