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Chinese Police Detain Suspected Members of Baby Trafficking Network - 2002-06-07

Chinese police have arrested 13 members of a baby trafficking network. The gang has been charged with kidnapping and trying to sell almost two dozen babies. News of the arrests comes after the release of a U.S. report saying China does not meet minimum standards in anti-trafficking efforts.

The official China Daily newspaper says gang members stole or bought most of the infants in the southern province of Yunnan. Some of the babies are thought to have been abandoned by their parents.

The paper said Friday the police arrested the gang members and rescued some of the infants in Hubei province in central China last week. Two of the babies are critically ill, and require emergency medical treatment.

The suspects have reportedly confessed to taking two boys and 19 girls to Henan province, where they were sold to other families. Police say they think the real number of infants the gang stole is much higher. The newspaper says a baby girl can be sold in Henan for $180 dollars and a boy can go for almost $2,500.

Thursday, China defended its efforts to crack down on criminals involved in the trafficking of children and women. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing that China has adopted a serious attitude and strict measures to stop such crimes.

Mr. Liu spoke one day after the State Department released a report saying that as many as four million people worldwide are bought, sold, transported and held against their will. Most of the victims are women and children. Starting next year, the United States will impose sanctions on countries that make no effort to stop trafficking in humans.

The report lists China among 52 countries that are not the worst offenders, but still do not meet minimum standards in their anti-trafficking efforts.