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Sunday, 16 January, 2000, 13:21 GMT
Chinese police seize kidnap gang

Map of area


By Duncan Hewitt in Beijing

Police in China have rescued 35 children in what state media have called one of the country's biggest cases of child kidnapping.

Newspapers printed photographs of the children, aged between one and seven, and police appealed for their parents to get in touch.

The children were among at least 60 thought to have been kidnapped from Guizhou province and sold over the last five years by a gang made up of members of one family.



The families who had bought the children tried to prevent police from taking them away

Just one of the rescued children was able to give police a full name.

The case was uncovered after a young couple discovered a man trying to lure their small son into the back of a van in the south-western Chinese city of Guiyang last month.

Passers-by helped capture the man and took him to a local police station.

State media said the man, Che Quifu, confessed under interrogation to kidnapping 60 children since 1995, although officials believe the true number may be even higher.

Among the 28 people arrested were Chun's sister-in-law and two of his brothers.

Acting on information they provided, police located 35 children - all but one of them boys.

Hotline

Most had been sold to families in the more affluent Guangong province for up to $1,000 each.


Chinese family Population control policies have left parents desparate for sons
Reports said in some cases, the families who had bought the children tried to prevent police from taking them away.

In an attempt to locate the children's parents, several newspapers have printed their photographs and a special hotline has been set up.

Police said they had already had many calls but would be acting cautiously, as in some cases, the same child has been claimed by more than one person.

The kidnap gang is thought to have specialised in abducting the children of migrant workers, who are often too busy to keep a close watch on them.

Boys in demand

The case is further evidence of a trade that has been spurred partly by China's population control policies, which have left many rural families wanting young boys to work on the land or as male heirs.

Young girls have also been sold for marriage in rural areas or into prostitution abroad.

Official estimates put the number of children kidnapped each year in China at several thousand.

The trade has proved hard to stamp out, despite efforts by the authorities and by the United Nations Children's Fund.

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07 Jan 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese men face life as bachelors

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