City says no babies seized for adoption
Updated: 2011-09-30 07:34
Initial magazine report sparked national and overseas worries
BEIJING - Authorities in a city in Hunan province, where family planning officials had been accused of infant trafficking, said an investigation had found no evidence of such allegations.
However, the Shaoyang city government handed out punishments to 12 civil servants, explaining they were found in serious violation of Party discipline or administrative rules.
No further information on the violations was released.
The investigation, ordered by Zhou Qiang, Party chief of Hunan, followed a report in early May by Caixin Century magazine saying that nearly 20 infants in Shaoyang had been taken away by family planning officials between 2002 and 2005.
The report said officials had accused some families of giving birth to more than one child or of illegally adopting "abandoned" children, and forcibly took those infants away. China's family planning regulations strictly forbid couples from having more than one child without permission.
Residents who claimed their children were taken away told Caixin Century that officials sold the babies to welfare centers for at least 1,000 yuan ($155) each.
The children were then labeled as orphans ready for adoption and some were taken overseas by foreign adoptive parents. The welfare centers would receive as much as $3,000 from overseas adopters, according to the report.
The report aroused nationwide attention from both the public and high-ranking provincial officials.
However, according to the investigation by local Party discipline and audit departments, no babies were seized or sold, Shaoyang's information office said on Wednesday.
Of the 14 infants involved in the investigation, eight had been abandoned by their parents and later illegally adopted by local families. One was sent to an orphanage by unmarried biological parents, and the other five were in families that might have violated family planning regulations and cheated authorities by saying the children were "abandoned", said the announcement.
The announcement did not say what later happened to the 14 children it had investigated.
It did say that no human trafficking was found in the overseas adoption process, which was in line with related international adoption regulations.
However, the investigation has not calmed concerns about the allegations.
"I'm totally suspicious about the results," said Zhang Chen, a 29-year-old Beijing resident.
"The investigation took more than four months, but the facts are very clear. How could the local government take so long to probe the case? I'm wondering if somebody may want to hide something," she added.
Ji Gang, director of the domestic adoption department of the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption, said in order to avert future cases like this, procedures and regulations concerning adoption should be made more transparent.
"That's particularly true in the case of international adoption, which relies more on paper documents, and related departments should make sure of the source of the children for adoption," he told China Daily on Thursday.
Stunning the entire country, the story also caused ripples abroad, particularly when the New York Times reported that many parents began to question whether their children adopted from China were snatched from birth parents.
According to the US Department of State, 64,043 Chinese children were adopted in the US between 1999 and 2010, far more than from any other country.