Chinese police detained two officials, including one involved in family planning, in the country’s latest crackdown on child trafficking, state media said yesterday.
Police from nine regions took part in the joint crackdown — which began on Dec. 18 and has ensnared 355 suspects so far — against the country’s trafficking networks, rescuing 89 children, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security ministry said in a report earlier this week.
Among the suspects was a family planning official surnamed Wang (王), who was arrested in the southeastern province of Fujian and is being charged with trafficking four babies, the Global Times newspaper reported yesterday.
Police also arrested another official in Fujian after he and his wife purchased a baby boy, the report added. The couple already have a 10-year-old son.
Chinese academics have long blamed the country’s one-child policy for contributing to child trafficking. The policy is aimed at controlling the growth of China’s population, the world’s largest at 1.3 billion.
It generally limits people in urban areas to one child, while rural families can have two if the first is a girl. This has put a premium on baby boys, and girls have been sold or abandoned as couples try for a male heir.
“In some cases, family planning officials sell the children,” the Global Times quoted Zhang Shiwei, a campaigner against child trafficking, as saying. “Police are also bribed by people who need to obtain a hukou (戶口), or household registration permit, for their purchased baby.”
Chinese family planning officials who have previously been convicted of trafficking are often involved in persuading couples who have violated the population control policy to give their baby up for adoption.
The children are then sold to trafficking rings and have sometimes even found their way into state adoption centers that supply orphans to foreign parents, state media reports have said.
Of the 89 children rescued in the ongoing campaign, five have been returned to their parents, while the others are undergoing DNA testing in an effort to locate their families, the Fuzhou Evening News reported.
In separate news, a dozen local officials in the east of China have been suspended while authorities investigate the crash of an overloaded school van that killed 11 kindergartners, state media said yesterday.
A deputy mayor for Guixi City, where the crash occurred on Monday, and the heads of the local education and transportation bureaus are among those suspended, Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily reported.
The principal of the kindergarten, who also was the van’s driver, has been detained, and Xinhua News Agency said the privately-run school had been operating without a license and has been ordered closed.
An initial police investigation found that the van was speeding and ended up in a 3m deep pond, Xinhua said, adding that the principal “drove improperly.” The principal had modified the van to carry more passengers, state broadcaster China Central Television said on its Web site, without citing sources.
The victims, ages 4 to 6, were mostly children of migrant workers and lived with their grandparents, Xinhua said.
The principal, Zhou Chun’e (周春娥), has been detained on suspicion of culpable driving causing serious injury, said an official from the party’s propaganda office in Guixi.
Zhou had been driving the seven-seat van with 15 children and another adult aboard along a rural road undergoing repairs in Jiangxi Province, Xinhua said.
Three children died at the scene, while eight others died after being hospitalized. Each victim’s family will be paid 480,000 yuan (US$77,100), Xinhua said.