01/02/2014, 00.00
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Shaanxi: obstetrician goes on trial for selling "at least" seven new-borns

Shuxia Zhang admits her involvement in human trafficking. Police save six children, but one is dead before her rescue. China's one-child policy has sparked a lucrative baby business. Each year, at least 200,000 children disappear.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Zhang Shuxia, a Chinese obstetrician, is on trial for stealing seven babies after convincing their parents that they were ill and that it was better to give them up. Her aim was to sell the new-borns to rich families unable to have children of their own, a widespread practice in China where the government's one-child policy has created an unprecedented demographic disaster.

Appearing before a court in Fuping, Shaanxi Province, the obstetrician admitted the charges. She had been arrested after the parents of a new-born baby had found her behaviour suspicious.

Provincial authorities were able to rescue six babies, but one baby girl died before she could be saved. In addition to the obstetrician, they also arrested several other people involved in the same trafficking.

Poverty and traditional preference for boys, as well as the one-child policy and ineffective adoption rules have fostered an underground traffic in children over the years.

Many families buy children to use as cheap labour, as domestic workers, or, in the case of girls, to give as a bride to their unmarried sons. In other cases, children are forced into prostitution or sold to families who want to a child for adoption.

According to a report by the China National Radio, a broadcaster that covers the whole country, about 200,000 children disappear each year in China. Of these, only 0.1 per cent are ever found and returned.

Last November, the Chinese government announced its intention to reform the one-child policy.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress formally adopted the changes last Saturday.

However, doubts remain because local governments are responsible for implementing the policy.

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