Shanghai Police Investigate Online Baby Auction

October 27, 2005

Shanghai police are investigating a baby auction posted on October 16 through eBay's Chinese Web site, according to the China Daily, Associated Press, and Reuters. A spokesman for the Web site revealed that the company had deleted the posting and reported the matter to local investigators. Shanghai public security officials released no details on the investigation.

Chinese media coverage in early 2005 pointed out that abductions of children were on the rise during 2004. According to public security officials, gangs and criminal syndicates are becoming more involved in human trafficking, and perpetrators are increasingly resorting to violent tactics. This year's investigations in the provinces of Henan, Hebei, and Fujian confirmed these trends and led to crackdowns on three separate trafficking rings in July and August 2005. In October, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) (subscription required) and Xinhua reported that the Anshun Intermediate People's Court in Guizhou province had sentenced seven local ringleaders to death for the disappearance of 61 children from April to September 2003.

Article 240 of China's Criminal Law allows punishment up to death for the crime of human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department's June 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report, Chinese police investigated 309 trafficking gangs, arrested 5,043 suspected traffickers, and referred 3,144 individuals for prosecution in 2004. The State Department recognizes that Chinese law enforcement agencies have made significant efforts to address the problem, but nonetheless concludes that the Chinese government "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking" and "provided an inadequate level of protection for victims of trafficking." According to the SCMP, analysts blame baby trafficking in China on the widening wealth gap, high number of infertile couples, one-child policy, and belief that boys are more valuable than girls.