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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006, 09:39 GMT
Jail for Chinese baby traffickers
A child in a cardboard box in Beijing
Baby trafficking is seen as a growing problem in China
A Chinese orphanage director and nine other people have been given jail sentences for buying and selling dozens of babies who were then adopted abroad.

Another 22 officials in central China's Hunan province have been sacked over the trade, which ran from 2002 to 2005.

In 2005 alone, 78 babies were bought and sold on to orphanages which offered them to adoptive parents, who made donations, Xinhua news agency said.

The nationalities of the foreign adopters are not known.

The court heard the infants trafficked were bought in China's southern Guangdong province and sold on to six orphanages for 3,200-4,000 yuan ($400 to $540) each.

Chen Ming, the director of Hengdong Social Welfare Home in Hengyang, Hunan, was sentenced to one year in prison for his role but is on the run. Most of the sacked officials worked at the children's homes involved.

Three human traffickers were jailed for 15 years and six others given sentences ranging from three to 13 years.

Baby trafficking is seen as a growing problem in China.

The country's strict "one child" birth control policy, coupled with a traditional bias for male children, has led to widespread reports of child abductions.

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