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Devastated Parents: Chinese Gov't Running Infant Abduction Racket for Profit and Population Control
Yang Libing's son holds a faded snapshot of a girl resembling his sister, Yang Ling, who this year turns seven years old. Chinese family planning officials seized her in 2005 and shipped her to an orphanage because they didn't pay so-called "social support compensation" for violating China's one-child policy. Yang Ling is now seven and lives in America. (Caixin)

Devastated Parents: Chinese Gov't Running Infant Abduction Racket for Profit and Population Control

“They are like organized criminals.”

Infant abduction for black-market profit is an awful reality in many countries—but government-sponsored infant abduction? Too totalitarian for today's world?

Not according to some parents in Shaoyang, China—a remote, mountainous region in the Hunan province.

A frightening story has surfaced in recent months that the Chinese government—partly to enforce its one-child-only law, partly for a money grab—routinely took infants from the arms of their impoverished parents when there wasn't enough cash in the cupboards to appease extortionists' demands. These abducted infants, reports say, were often adopted outside China; the United States was supposedly a frequent destination.

The good news is that government-sponsored seizures have apparently diminished a great deal since 2006. The bad news is that it took an abducted eight-month-old boy's severe injuries in a balcony fall (after his mother tangled with officials over him) to curtail the practice. The latest outcry, however, is that the Chinese government had been hard at work all these years keeping the whole sordid affair under wraps—not terribly surprising, what with the minor sticking point that its own laws forbid infant seizure, even when its Mom and Dad's second child.

Want more shockers? A Chinese news organization, Caixin, somehow braved its land's chilling media clampdowns and uncovered the government's purported role in the abductions with a lengthy expose last May 10. Six days later, Hillary Clinton's favorite news outlet, Al Jazeera, posted its own story. The New York Times followed suit last week.

According to the Caixin article:

In some cases, child-selling revenues as well as social support compensation fees paid by Hunan parents who break one-child rules have become important sources of income for local governments in poor parts of the province.

Family planning agencies received less than 20 percent of the fees paid by Hunan's violating parents in 2004 and '05, according to the provincial Family Planning Commission. Most of the money was used to cover general government expenses, government sources told Caixin.

The official line from China? Police recently reported rescuing 89 babies from child traffickers, and the deputy director of the Public Security Ministry condemned what he called the practice of “buying and selling children in this country,” according to the New York Times piece.

[Watch this video of Xiong Chao—dressed in the dark blue shirt and white shorts—whose fall from a family-planning office balcony is said to have ended the alleged government-sponsored infant abductions. He made it back from the clutches of Chinese officials but is mentally disabled from his 2006 injuries]:

More from the Times:

Zeng Dingbao, who leads the Inspection Bureau in Shaoyang, the city that administers Longhui County, has promised a diligent investigation. But signs point to a whitewash. In June, he told People’s Daily Online, the Web version of the Communist Party’s official newspaper, that the situation “really isn’t the way the media reported it to be, with infants being bought and sold.”

Rather than helping trace and recover seized children, parents say, the authorities are punishing those who speak out. Two of the most vocal fathers were detained for 15 days in Shaoyang on charges of soliciting prostitutes at a brothel. Released last month, the two men, Yang Libing, 47, and Zhou Yinghe, 34, said they had been entrapped.

Mr. Yang said he was constantly followed by government minders. Mr. Zhou said the village party secretary had warned him to stop talking to reporters about the abduction of his 3-month-old daughter in March 2003 or face more punishment. “They are like organized criminals,” Mr. Zhou said.

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