China currently has a gender ratio of 117 men to 100 women, leading men in rural areas of China to find brides from Vietnam and other countries in southeast Asia. This in turn has generated a market for human trafficking as women are bought and sold by alleged “matchmakers.” Recently in villages near Handan, Hebei Province, more than 100 Vietnamese women have disappeared from their homes. BBC reports:
The bachelors had paid tens of thousands of yuan each to the Vietnamese matchmaker, named by local media as Wu Meiyu, who had been living in Hebei for more than 20 years.
Earlier this year she had gone around rural areas in Hebei looking for customers, promising them a Vietnamese bride for a 115,000 yuan ($18,600; £11,800) fee, the reports said.
On 20 November, the wives reportedly told their husbands that they were having a meal with other Vietnamese brides. They subsequently became uncontactable.
When the husbands went to Ms Wu’s home to confront her, they found out that she had left a few days earlier. [Source]
Bree Feng at the New York Times has more on the investigation into the disappearances:
The police in Quzhou County have reportedly detained three people in connection with the investigation and are searching for Ms. Wu and another suspect, who has the surname Li. Although news reports have put the number of missing women at more than 100, the police said that only 28 villagers had reported such fraud, China Daily reported last week.
Those who filed police reports were all from villages under the jurisdiction of Handan, which is best known as the birthplace of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
Stories of Vietnamese brides have become common in rural China, where many bachelors say they are squeezed out of the marriage market because they lack the funds to satisfy the demands of Chinese families. Unfortunately for these men, runaway foreign brides are also common — though 100 in one area is a larger number than usual.
Although the police suspect that the Hebei case involves marriage fraud, Chinese government officials and international rights organizations have expressed concern that some international marriages involve human trafficking. [Source]