China, Jan 14 – Chinese police have busted several trafficking rings for selling newborn babies and children, some of them kept in squalid conditions in a disused mortuary, state-run media reported Wednesday.
Police arrested more than 100 suspects in the crackdown, with one group in the eastern province of Shandong suspected of housing pregnant women in a factory and selling their newborns, the state-run Global Times daily said.
Police found some trafficked children “hidden in the mortuary of an abandoned hospital for infectious diseases, where they were badly treated with instant noodles as food”, it said.
China has long struggled to rein in a lucrative market in babies, fuelled by a preference for male children and the “one child policy,” which limits the number of children couples can have.
A total of 103 traffickers from eight gangs were arrested in several cities, during a two-month investigation, the report said.
“Boys are more expensive than girls,” one suspect surnamed Wu was quoted as saying, added that the price for a male baby could reach 60,000 yuan ($9,700).
The paper reported that 37 babies were rescued, including seven who were confirmed to have contracted sexually transmitted diseases from their parents.
Chinese police official Chen Shiqu was quoted as saying that “it has become a new criminal pattern for human traffickers to take pregnant women to give birth to babies at a specific place for their business”.
The official Xinhua news agency said that one of the groups was suspected of selling more than 20 babies, while another in Yanzhou in Shandong was accused of selling 12 newborns since 2013.
China has seen multiple cases of human trafficking in recent years, Xinhua said. In March 2013, Chinese police rescued 92 children and two women and detained 301 suspects.
“Trafficking in women and children remains a significant problem in several provinces,” in China, the United Nations Inter-agency Project on Human Trafficking says on its website.