Chinese police arrested 802 people on suspicion of child trafficking and rescued 181 children in a major operation spanning 15 provinces, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said today. The recent operation broke up two trafficking rings and led to the arrests of the ring leaders. The national operation was set up earlier this year after local police spotted trafficking signs, including frequent appearances of out-of-town pregnant women, in a clinic in north China's Hebei province. State media reported that parents wishing to sell their babies could find potential buyers through the clinic.
One of its doctors was among those arrested. Trafficking in children is a big problem in China. Its strict one-child policy—which limits most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two if their first-born is a girl—has driven a thriving market in babies, especially boys because of a traditional preference for male heirs. Many trafficked babies are abducted, but some are sold by families who are too poor to care for a baby or do not want a girl. State media report that a baby girl can fetch $4,800 to $8,000 and that a baby boy sells for $11,200 to $12,800. (Read more China stories.)