Babies for sale on China’s eBay site

Chinese police are investigating baby trafficking over the internet after an ad for newborns was placed on the US-based online auction site eBay, state press and company officials say. Baby boys were advertised on eBay EachNet at 28,000 yuan ($A4606), and girls at 13,000 yuan, the China Daily reported, citing Tang Lei, manager of EachNet, eBay’s China site.

No sales were made but more than 50 people browsed before the posting placed on October 16 was pulled down. One person left a message. The seller, under the username “Chuangxinzhe Yongyuan” or “innovator forever,” said all the babies came from Henan province in central China and would be available 100 days after birth.

The ad said it was trying to help the country’s millions of infertile couples. Police gave no details of their investigation, but Tang did not discard the possibility it was a hoax. In a statement, the company blamed its monitoring system and said it would move immediately to improve technological monitoring and management. California-based eBay paid $US150 million ($A199 million) to take over Shanghai-based EachNet, a company started in 1999 by two Chinese Harvard graduates, and which it has owned one third of since 2002.

China forbids trafficking of children and those prosecuted can receive the death penalty in egregious cases, although the practice remains widespread. A court in the southern province of Guizhou recently sentenced seven people to death for trafficking at least 60 children in 2003. And in August, a man was sentenced to death for running a child trafficking ring that sold 44 children to Singapore.

China’s “one child” birth control policy, coupled with the country’s long tradition of favouring boys, are seen as catalysts for the trafficking of children. Last year, 3500 children were rescued from their captors in 1975 cases, according to earlier state media reports.


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