Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) Henan child born in last 100 days for sale; price: 28,000 yuan (US$ 3,500) for boys and 13,000 yuan (US$ 1,600) for girls. This is the offerunusual to say the leastthat appeared on an online auction house and signed by a username calling himself or herself Chuangxinzhe Yongyuan (forever innovator). More than 50 people browsed the posting, including one who left a message of enquiry.
The "baby supplier" explained the offer was meant to "help the country's millions of infertile couples".
The website removed the posting as soon as it realised what was being advertised and reported the matter to police which launched an investigation.
Such an offer is unusual insofar as how it was advertising but abducting and selling children is a widespread criminal activity in China, even if it carries penalties that include jail sentences and capital punishment.
Last August seven leaders of a child abduction ring were sentenced to death and executed. The other 45 ring members were given prison sentences ranging from five years to life. In 2003, the gang had kidnapped 61 children in Guizhou province for resale to families in Henan and Hebei provinces. Of these, only 25 children were eventually found but many of them could not be reunited with their families because it was impossible to track down their natural parents. Thus, they joined the ranks of China 573,000 official orphans.
According to a joint study by China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Save the Children Fund and Beijing Normal University, Chinese orphans receive little government assistance; more than a third receive no aid whatsoever and for many there is no medical care and education.
The report found that 86 per cento of all orphans live in rural areas but, whilst in cities 70 per cent receive some form of local government assistance, in the countryside only half does.
In many provinces, the aid orphans receive is merely symbolic. "In these areas, payments do not cover even a quarter of a normal child's daily living expenses, and in many regions, it's as little as a tenth," said Shang Xiaoyuan, professor at the Beijing Normal University, who took part in the study. "Many orphans are living in extreme poverty, especially in rural areas".
Around 78 per cent of all orphans live with relatives, but some 69,000 are housed in public institutions. Henan holds the bulk of these children with some 50,000.
In farming regions government subsidies average 1,190 yuan (US$ 132) a year, but in some provinces like Guizhou, Hunan and Guangxi Zhuang, it does not exceed 50 yuan (US$ 6) a month.
Kate Wedgwood, China Programme Director for Save the Children, said the number of orphans is calculated on the basis of central government data, but the real numbers could be much higher.
Many experts believe that the government's lack of care for orphans favours abductions and sale to childless couples. In such a "market", baby boys are deemed "quality goods" and sold at prices more than twice that of baby girls, who are usually seen as "substandard".
The problem is widespread because of the high number of infertile couples, China's 'one-child policy' and the popular preference for boys over girls. (PB)