More Freedom in China brings Sorrow

I read a TIME piece by Austin Ramzy about stolen children in China seeking answers. Some Chinese parents that lost children complain that the police do not do enough to find the missing children.

As usual, the story is more complicated than that.

In fact, Ramzy wrote, corruption began to rise, and organized crime, beaten back by relentless social controls during the Maoist era (1949 – 1976), grew once again (which means that with more freedom comes more risk due to crime).

Because of new freedom of movement, Ramzy wrote, gangs found it easier to take children from one place and sell them in another.

However, the police in China are learning. Last year, the police launched their biggest crackdown ever, with more than 15,000 people arrested over 17 months. The ultimate penalty for trafficking in children is death.

The longer the child is missing, however, the more difficult it is to find them.

Length of Al Jazeera English video 21 minutes

101 East, an Al Jazeera English program, did a special on this topic. The host says, “Tens of thousands of children are abducted and sold in China each year.”

Curious, I wanted to know if a similar situation exists in the US.

Checking FBI statistics, I learned that the FBI reported in 2009, 558,493 missing persons under the age of 18. Non-family members adduced fifty-eight thousand.

Further research revealed that most child abductions in the US and China are for different reasons. Another family member abducts most in America.  In China, many of the abductions are so the children may be sold to strangers that live far from where the child was taken.

One reason for why children are kidnapped and sold to other families is due to cultural reasons. In China, parents depend on their children to care for them in old age and this motivates some Chinese couples to pay a kidnapper to find a child for them.

In fact, up until the early 20th century, children and women were often sold in China and it wasn’t against the law as it is today.

Of the thousands abducted in the US, the FBI says about a hundred children a year are murdered within three hours.

Discover more about the growth of Organized Crime in China


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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