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Child and Bride Trafficking in China Linked to Organ Harvesting: Activist Report

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: February 12, 2022
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This photo taken on April 18, 2017 shows a woman holding her baby as she looks at Chinese workers bricking up the entrance of shops in Beijing. (Image: FRED DUFOUR/AFP via Getty Images)

A recent video where a mother of eight children is tied to a wall with a metal chain around her neck has sparked outrage and shock across social media.

The woman identified only as Ms. Yang is from a rural village near the metropolis of Xuzhou. She is seen standing in a doorless, dilapidated shack and is wearing only a thin layer of clothing despite the visibly frigid temperatures outside.

The man filming the video can be seen bringing some clothes to the woman and helping her put on a jacket. He asks her a few questions but she is unable to answer and just stares off into the distance. The only thing she manages to say is: “This world doesn’t want me anymore.”

After the video was posted, it ignited a wave of anger and controversy across China’s tightly controlled Internet as discussion about human trafficking — particularly of young women and girls — was brought up amongst users. 

Users also called on authorities to investigate Ms. Yang’s situation as many believed she had been kidnapped as a teen or sold to her husband, and had been repeatedly raped to the point of insanity.

Child trafficking a common occurrence in China

In an interview with the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times, Chinese dissident Yao Cheng recounted numerous incidents of child trafficking, as well as suspected organ harvesting using childrens’ organs in China.

Yao was a volunteer at Women’s Rights in China (WRIC), a New York-based non profit, from 2007 to 2016 and conducted many of his own investigations during this time. 

Since the Chinese regime implemented the one-child policy in 1979, many baby girls were aborted or abandoned, while some parents opted to give away their daughters to Buddhist nunneries in hopes of giving the child a chance to survive.

The policy was so stringenly upheld for 35 years that many women were forced to have late-term abortions or undergo forced sterilization if they were found to be “illegally” pregnant. Chinese authorities boasted that they prevented approximately 400 million births.

While the policy was enacted in an attempt to halt rapid population growth — China reached 1 billion people in 1980 — it also forced parents to decide whether they wanted a son or  daughter. Particularly in rural areas, where sons are considered indispensable for doing manual labor and carrying on the family line, resulted in hundreds of thousands of baby girls ending up in orphanages or nunneries. The policy also caused a severe gender imbalance across the country, with males outnumbering females by almost 30 percent according to an analysis by The Guardian

Yao recorded in his documentary “Girls in the Nunnery” how he helped in rescuing many girls who grew up in a nunnery and helped to locate their biological families. Yao’s investigation also found that thousands of infant girls had been adopted from dozens of Buddhist nunneries in Tongcheng, a county-level city in Anhui, an eastern province of China.

“The newborns were left in a paper box or a basket padded with a blanket,” Yao told The Epoch Times. “The lucky ones were raised by the nuns, but the nuns could only afford to raise a couple to a few; most others either froze to death or were killed by wild dogs. Of course, if any family was willing to adopt a female baby, the nuns would give it to them.”

In addition, a 1989 book titled Ancient Vice: A Chronicle of Female Abduction Nationwide by Chinese writers Xie Zhihong and Jia Lusheng cites official figures claiming that in a mere three years between 1986 and 1989, human traffickers delivered 48,100 women and girls abducted from various parts of the country to six counties in Xuzhou city. 

Organ harvesting: a ‘lucrative industry’

Yao also recalled seeing in Shantou, a coastal city in Guangdong Province, beds for boys and girls who had been sent to Southeast Asia for organ harvesting. Yao said that he collected ample amounts of evidence needed for prosecution, but authorities “refused to conduct an investigation or take any action to crack down on the crimes.”

He believes the lack of response was associated with how lucrative the industry is. “The organs of a child are worth more than one million yuan (USD $157,000),” he said.

Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has claimed on various occasions that human trafficking and illegal organ harvesting must be “punished with severity, speed, and zero tolerance,” the statements are usually seen as empty gestures merely said to appease the public. 

The Chinese regime has a long track record of arresting, imprisoning and even torturing activists and human rights attorneys for raising issues that paint the Party in a negative light.

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Yao explained that demand for organs is only growing, particularly due to the perception of low-priced Chinese goods and obtaining organs in China being viewed as easy and fast, with a relatively low surgical cost. He said he identified the child organ brokers in Shantou, but could not take further action, “If you try to do anything about it, your life will be in danger.”