Arts & Culture 
 Human Rights 
 U.S. Asian Policy 

Home > East Asia > 

Heartless Merchandise: Trafficking in Babies in China

 Related Articles
Traditional Culture: One Must Pay Back One's Debts
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 5 of 5)
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 4)
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 3)
Taiwan's Culture of Food
Acts Upon a Stage (Part II)
Chinese Dance in Ancient History
Acts Upon a Stage (Part I)
A Story from History: Jiang Balang Paid His Debt
China's Slavery Scandal Reveals Weaknesses in Governance
About a year ago, when I first came to the United States, I read an article in a Chinese newspaper about a mother who had sold her baby. The impact left by reading it, is difficult to express in words. A description of the article follows; you may draw your own conclusion.

On July 4, 2002, the Police Department of Shouguang in Shandong Province uncovered a large ring of baby traffickers involving 11 babies aged 2-4 months. These babies were eventually sent back to their home, Sichuan Province.

The author of the article, a specially appointed reporter, followed the case to its conclusion. After three days and two nights of train travel and more than 10 hours by bus, he witnessed the babies' return to the region of their birth.
The civil administration bureau posted notices seeking the parents to claim the babies.

The reporter wanted to interview mothers who had sold their own offspring. But nobody showed up to claim them. The reporter was told by the locals that the babies were considered to be merchandise that had been sold.

The local price for a newborn baby was about US$125-$250. In Shandong, Fujian and Guangdong provinces, though, they could be sold for the equivalent of $1,000-$1,250. There are said to be no risks involved in such a business, since, if a baby died in transit, it could easily be disposed of. Even if only one out of two were sold, it would still be a profitable venture.

After a long period of travel, the author of the article eventually found a mother who had sold her baby two years earlier, with the baby subsequently being recovered. The mother told the reporter that it was obvious that nothing in her home but a baby was worth $125. The mother said, "We really do not know any other ways to make this amount of money so quickly that is our income for two seasons."

The reporter asked, "What about the death or birth of your baby? Don't you care ?" The mother replied that the baby had its own fate, and that maybe it is in a good family now.

On his return after the interview, he met another reporter from Shandong province. The Shandong reporter sighed, "They are so poor, they have no skill besides reproduction."
A baby is worth only $125. As the mother said, that it is two seasons' income. For nine months of pregnancy, that works out to just under $14 a month. What are the mother's feelings about all this? Happiness, anger, hope? Who knows?

Under the evil dictatorship of communism, an uncaring abnormal human behavior has emerged.
Merchandise is worth money, but in these poor rural mountain areas, the life of a baby is not even worth as much as merchandise. This is the mindset of the current materialistic society in China.

This report accurately portrays the blood and tears of the impoverished people of the rural mountain areas in China. It represents a miniature of the materialist society in China and a realistic picture of China at its "best," as far as human rights goes.

In 1965, before the Cultural Revolution, as a student of Beijing University I participated in the "Four Clean-Ups Movement" in a poor mountain area of Wudu County in Gansu Province.

The majority of baby girls were allowed to die as soon as they were born, and were immediately buried. Nobody grieved for them and everyone returned to work on the mountain as usual. The mother would again try to have another baby. This is the fate of such women where a human life can be worthless.

These more than 30 years have passed very quickly, and at the end of 2000 I went to Beijing to appeal. Following my arrest by the Beijing Police Department I was released, but soon after I returned I was harassed by local police. At the beginning of 2001, I went to visit poor rural mountain areas in western Hunan. I stayed there half a month and personally experienced the poverty.

The economic standard of the rural mountain areas has not changed in more than 50 years. The poverty of such areas in western Hunan is almost the same as that which I saw in Wudu County 30 years ago.

The impoverished villagers in mountain areas are absolutely destitute, with their complete family belongings comprising a tattered bed, a table, chairs, and a container to make preserved vegetables. There is a constant struggle for enough food to survive.

The so-called "economic reform and opening up" policy of the Chinese Communist Party has actually increased the disparity between rich and poor.

Most of the rural mountain areas in Guizhou, Yunan, Sichuan, Fujian, Jiangxi, Gansu, Anhui and Hunan really are as it is described in the report: "They are so poor, they have no skill besides reproduction".

What are your thoughts after reading this report? Do you want to incite the police to crack open this case, to erase the baby dealers' violations of human rights?

Is your tendency to condemn, sympathize with or pity these mothers who sell their babies? We would all hope that these babies can find a good family.

But above all, do you wish that these manifestations of such callous and uncaring human nature born of this current abnormal Chinese society could be no more?

© Copyright 2002-2007 AFAR