Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wholesale Chinese Babies?

The recent news released by the Xinhua Chinese government’s news agency about the rescue of kidnapped children is repeated on the average of once a year. The rescued children are either old enough to be forced into slave labor, or worse, as victims of organ harvesting. In other cases, infant girls are sold to bachelor groups as sexual slaves.

But most disturbing perhaps is a system that has created a lucrative market of selling babies for adoption. Infant boys fetch a high price, but girls, too, are not spared. Besides the profitable foreign adoption industry, baby girls can be sold domestically to Chinese families seeking to raise future brides for their only sons.

The December 2006 announcement by the government of the People’s Republic of China of its tighter guidelines for foreign adoption was explained as the diminishing supply of available babies. The Chinese claimed that they could no longer meet the growing demand from foreigners wishing to adopt.

This supposed shortage contrasted the same government’s documented huge surplus of baby girls. Even stories in the censored Chinese press revealed that hundreds of thousands of them were abandoned—if not aborted in uterus or killed shortly after birth.

UNICEF 2008 study reported 17,374,000 births in China. The one-child policy established in 1979 clashed with the Chinese centuries-old tradition of favoring boys, resulting in a skewed boy-girl ratio: The Chinese government 2008 report, supported by Western sources such as the recent British Medical Journal, established the boy-girl ratio at birth as 124:100 and even higher in some regions. This figure translates to 1.75 million girls “missing” from the ledger for 2008, but fails to include thousands of male and female fetuses aborted by official coercion or family choice. It also ignores infants of later birth order—third, fourth or fifth in their families—who perish in the first week of life, but whose numbers cancels boys’ and girls’ deaths as reported in the 2004 issue of International Family Planning Perspective.

The foreign adoption, begun after the huge outcry of the mid 90s’ exposure of mass infanticide in Chinese orphanages, reared the corruption’s ugly head. Corruption in China is so entrenched that jobs are often being purchased openly because of the unofficial side benefits. Between 1997 and 2006, the flow of over 100 million dollars paid directly to orphanage directors has made keeping the fresh supply of “suitable” babies a lucrative business. According to one report, only 10% of the money Western adoptive parents leave behind services the babies in the institutions from which these babies are adopted. When the $3,000 to $5,000 per child is paid in crisp $100 bills in a country where the average monthly wage is about $50, the incentive is clear. Directors of orphanages designated for foreign adoptions have been tempted to purchase babies for $150. In turn, the operators supplying them have been buying babies from desperate parents for as low as $8. Or, as it has been reported, they just kidnap them.

The government of the People’s Republic of China is interested in China’s image in the world, and from its perspective, the mass availability of its infants doesn't look good. Rather than deal with the hundreds of thousands of abandoned babies, it denies their existence, and hence, there is “a shortage.”

Cracking down on babies- and children-trafficking rings and rescue between three to sixty children in a sea of millions of them missing—and then releasing this information to the media—helps the People’s Republic of China “save face.”

My novel, CHINA DOLL, the riveting rescue of a Chinese baby, was the platform for my 2007 presentation at the U.N. about infanticide (Gendercide) in China.

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