Zhang Suxia, an obstetrician in Shaanxi’s Fuping county, who for eight years allegedly sold her patient’s healthy babies on the booming black market, is at the heart of a recent baby-trafficking scandal, which has led a flurry of parents to come forward to report that they may have also fallen for her ruse. And many parents complain that police do little to help after they file missing children reports, according to Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett.
There are no official statistics for child abduction in China. The best estimates run into the tens of thousands every year.
National government has been engaged in a public crackdown since 2009, and thousands of children have been rescued in televised raids.
But many more parents complain at best of police indifference to their missing children reports.
At worst of complicity among corrupt local officials.[Source]
The Telegraph’s Malcolm Moore adds that husband of Dr. Zhang’s latest victim, Lai Guofeng, had to threaten suicide on the roof of his home to push for police action, which eventually brought about the return of his baby in a highly-televised reunion:
Mr Lai grew suspicious and took his wife to a different hospital for blood tests. When the results confirmed that she was not infected with either hepatitis or syphilis, he went to the police.
Initially, no one wanted to listen to his complaint, his voice too small and unimportant to be heard. But when he and his father stood on the top of his white-tiled house, above a pair of hanging red lanterns, and threatened to jump to their deaths, the police finally paid attention.
Scanning the hospital’s CCTV, investigators saw Dr Zhang bundling the child out of the doors. In custody, she confirmed she had sold the baby for 21,600 yuan (£2,200) to a trafficker.[Source]
An op-ed by Han Wei on World Crunch via The Economic Observer says that stricter law enforcement cannot do much in the face of a culture which has embraced profit over moral good:
China has very strict laws to counter the endless child-trafficking problem. Kidnapping and selling more than three children by use of violence or coercion can carry the death penalty.
But since this case became public, many people are embracing the logic that instituting even stiffer punishments would solve the problem. They don’t seem to recognize that these criminal doctors know very well that they’re breaking the law. They just believe they can get away with it, so they take the risks for profit. No, what we should be talking about here is not so much investigation and punishment, but rather how to solve the moral crisis these trafficking cases represent.[Source]
But The Global Times emphasizes that light penalties for baby buyers only fuel the illegal trade:
Even after the abducted children are rescued, we rarely hear of buyers receiving severe punishment. In fact, as long as they don’t disturb the police’s rescue efforts or abuse the abducted children, they won’t be severely punished.
Fighting against baby trafficking calls for efforts on two fronts: curbing supply as well as demand. Both traffickers and buyers must realize there is a heavy penalty for their actions.[Source]
Read more about child trafficking and its links to international adoptions in an article by Charlie Custer for ChinaFile (via CDT). See also Custer’s documentary on the subject, Living with Dead Hearts.