China’s Coercive Practices Lead to “Lucrative Black Market in Children”

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-lifers are aware of the direct costs of China’s one-child policy—forced abortion, infanticide, coerced sterilization, and millions of devastated families—but a story in today’s New York Times unmasks another horrific aftermath less commonly known.

The headline aptly tells the story: “Chinese Officials Seized and Sold Babies, Parents Say.” (

There now exists a “lucrative black market” in kidnapped children, which (parents charge)  local government officials use as a source of revenue.

“The abduction of children is a continuing problem in China, where a lingering preference for boys coupled with strict controls on the number of births have helped create a lucrative black market in children,” Sharon LaFraniere writes. “Just last week, the police announced that they had rescued 89 babies from child traffickers, and the deputy director of the Public Security Ministry assailed what he called the practice of ‘buying and selling children in this country.’”

LaFraniere uses as an example an impoverished rural area in a southern Chinese province. According to a father she interviewed last month his daughter was among “at least 16 children who were seized by family planning officials between 1999 and late 2006 in Longhui County.”

Local officials would find real and imaged offenses and then impose impossibly high fines—up to five times the yearly income of an average family. When the families were unable to pay, the children are illegally taken away, LaFraniere reports.

This only stopped when news got out that an 8-month-old boy fell from the second-floor balcony as officials tried to wrestle him out from his mother arms. Nationally the impetus came, according to LaFraniere, when a brave Chinese magazine “reported the abductions” which “prompted an official inquiry.”

But rather than a real inquiry signs point to a whitewash (the head of the local Inspections Bureau told the People’s Daily Online, the web version of the Communist Party’s official newspaper, that the situation “really isn’t the way the media reported it to be, with infants being bought and sold”) and to persecution of parents who protest, LaFraniere reports.

There is no happy ending to the story.

“’The larger issue is that the one-child policy is so extreme that it emboldened local officials to act so inhumanely,’ said Wang Feng, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who directs the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing.”

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