Orphanages accused in baby-trading scandal
Orphanages in central China's Hunan Province have sold or traded at least 100 babies over the past few years, and authorities are investigating a crime ring that may be marketing children across China, a Changsha-based newspaper reported yesterday.
More than two dozen suspects have been arrested so far, according to the Sanxiang Metropolis News.
The paper said an alleged baby trader arrested in Hunan's Qidong County told police he has been selling babies to orphanages and social welfare institutions for years, making 800 yuan (US$99) to 1,200 yuan on each transaction.
The agencies then resold the children to other orphanages or childless couples for 8,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan, the newspaper said.
The alleged trader, a Qidong County resident, also reportedly said the orphanages were buying babies or trading them among themselves so they could qualify for additional government funding. Payments are allocated based on the number of babies an institution cares for.
Police have detained 27 managers and workers at the Hengyang County orphanage since Monday, according to news accounts.
The suspects include Jiang Zhenghua, the orphanage's director; Wang Weihong, Party secretary of the orphanage, and He Yuhua, an accountant, the newspaper said.
Police also confiscated a car at the orphanage, which it reportedly received as a gift from a similar outfit in Changsha, Hunan's capital.
An unidentified orphanage worker reportedly told the newspaper that the Changsha facility was a stable client and had bought many babies from the Hengyang orphanage.
"The worker said he couldn't bear witnessing the black-market business any more and decided it was time to speak out," reporter Li Ling, who broke the story, told Shanghai Daily yesterday in a telephone interview.
Li said the worker told him the orphanage had sold babies over the years to many other orphanages in and out of Hunan, including Changsha, Binzhou and Zhuzhou and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guangdong Province.
An official with the Hengyang County information office wouldn't confirm the news report when contacted by Shanghai Daily yesterday but did say the government was investigating the allegations and would punish anyone found guilty of breaking the law.
Li said his information was confirmed by a criminal investigator in Qidong County under the condition his name would not be revealed.
Li said police believe at least 100 babies, between several months and 4 years old, have been traded between the orphanages or sold to others.