Internet 'baby sale' sparks investigation
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-20 05:32
SHANGHAI: The attempted online sale of babies in Shanghai is being investigated by the city's police.
Advertisements for the babies were spotted on eBay's Eachnet site, the US online auction house's Chinese website, earlier this month.
Baby boys were advertised at 28,000 yuan (US$3,453), while girls carried a 13,000 yuan (US$1,603) price tag, according to Eachnet's Tang Lei, a manager with the company.
Under the username "Chuangxinzhe Yongyuan," which means "innovator forever," the seller claimed all the babies, which were to come from Henan Province, were available within 100 days of birth.
According to Eachnet, the advert was registered in the late evening of October 16.
Although no deals were struck, more than 50 people browsed the posting before it was removed, including one who left a message of enquiry.
There was no response from the seller's registered email address.
In the posting, Chuangxinzhe Yongyuan claimed the babies were being sold to help the country's millions of infertile couples.
Eachnet froze the posting after realizing it was advertising babies and reported the matter to local police. Police have released no details of their investigation.
According to Tang Lei, the website automatically screens information posted on it, but the word "baby" was not included as a forbidden term because so many baby products are advertised on the site.
A practical joke?
Tang admitted the posting could have been a practical joke. If not, whoever is behind the Chuangxinzhe Yongyuan username could face years in prison or even the death sentence.
According to Chinese law, the abduction of children carries a five-year sentence. In some cases, abduction with the intention of selling a child can carry the death penalty. Anyone found guilty of buying a baby can also be prosecuted.
In related news, it has been announced that on August 17 the Anfu Intermediate People's Court in Guizhou Province passed the final verdict on a gang of 45 who abducted and sold at least 60 children in 2003.
The seven main culprits were sentenced to death, four accomplices were given reprieved death penalties and other gang members received between five and 15 years in prison.
In January 2003, police in Anfu and Guiyang in Guizhou Province began receiving reports of missing children. By mid July, 16 children had been reported missing in Anfu.
At around midnight on March 27, 2003, the gang broke into a house in Wujiaguan Village in the Xixiu District of Anfu. They put a knife to the throat of a woman surnamed Cao and abducted her six-month-old baby.
Broken-hearted parents in Guiyang formed an association and petitioned government departments for help. On October 11, 2003, police in Anfu received a tip off and arrested gang members the following morning.
Investigations found that the ring had abducted 61 children, mainly boys under five, over the previous 10 months, selling them to buyers in Hebei and Henan provinces.
Only 25 of the children were ever tracked down.
"Many of the kids we found now live like orphans because we cannot find their natural parents," said a judge surnamed Li from Anfu Intermediate People's Court.
Li said it has proved very difficult to find the remaining abducted children. Many of the suspects are still at large, he added.
(China Daily 10/20/2005 page3)