Police in China have arrested 608 people suspected of selling children and freed 178 children, including some infants, in a crackdown spanning 10 provinces on child trafficking, officials said on Wednesday.
Police arrested the suspects on November 30, the ministry of public security said in a statement, calling the crackdown “one of the biggest victories for anti-trafficking”.
Police in the southwestern province of Sichuan discovered in May that a group led by a man, named Cai Lianchao, sold 26 children to other regions, the ministry said.
It added that in another case, police in eastern Fujian had learned in August that children were sold to residents by a woman named Chen Xiumei and other suspects from a child trafficking gang.
Child trafficking is rampant in China where population control policies have bolstered a traditional bias for male offspring, seen as the mainstay for elderly parents and heir to the family name, and have resulted in abortions, killings or abandonment of girls.
The imbalance has created criminal demand for abducted or bought baby boys but also for baby girls destined to be future brides attracting rich dowries.
In May, the southern Chinese province of Hunan said it had begun investigating a report that officials had seized at least 16 babies born in violation of family planning rules, sent them to welfare centres and then sold them abroad for adoption. — Reuters