Kids for Sale: Child Abduction on the Rise in Fujian, China

Trending on Sina Weibo is China’s growing problem of child abduction. Under the hashtag of “Child Trafficking is a Common Practice” (#买卖儿童成风#), netizens plead for a national DNA database.

Recently, the popular 2014 Chinese movie Dearest (亲爱的) has increased public interest in the topic of children’s abduction and trafficking. Dearest centers around a couple living in a remote village of China, dealing with the disappearance of their son. The little boy turns out to be abducted and the parents go on a lengthy mission to get him back. The tragic story has turned media’s attention to the growing problem of child trafficking in the province of Fujian, China.

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Several Chinese media, including CCTV and People’s Daily, report that trade in children is on the rise in Tongfang town in Longyan prefecture, where cases have been reported of the trafficking of young children and even newborns. According to one journalist’s investigation, as can be seen in the CCTV report, the “market price for a boy is about 100k RMB (about 16.300 US$) and 40-50k RMB (about 8000 US$) for a girl”. Official statistics are saying there are about 10,000 kids abducted every year. Research by third party institutions estimates a number that is seven times as high, reaching 70,000 yearly cases. Most netizens believe it is the old Chinese preference for boys in thinking “boys are more important than girls” (重男轻女) that causes the illegal market demand where boys are bought and girls are sold.

According to the national statistics report, the trafficking of boys is usually related to illegal adoption, whereas kidnapping of girls often involves sex trade. The lack of a national tracking system for missing people in China makes it hard to track and rescue missing persons.

Many netizens suggest that the government should create a national online database to record the DNA information of all newborns in order to make it easier for authorities and parents to know if a missing child is theirs when it is found years after it is reported missing.

Children abduction has been a hot topic in China since 2011. Activities by non-governmental organizations such as “Against Abduction via Weibo” (微博打拐) and “Come Home Baby Forum” (宝贝回家论坛) are well known and widely supported by netizens. The Chinese government is criticized online for its lack of supervision, bad management of the ID card registration process, and the light penalty for criminals involved in child trafficking. If the government would enhance its public administration, the number of missing children could be reduced, netizens agree.

For the footage of the CCTV’s report on the topic, see the video below (in Chinese):

 

 

 

The trailer of Dearest (in Chinese):

 

 

– by Fan Bai & Manya Koetse 

 

Images:

Hong Kong Asian Film Festival 2014

China.com 2014 

 

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