Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 16:03 UK

Chinese police find child slaves

Girl talks to be police after being rescued from a factory in Guangdong
Rescued by police. Picture courtesy of Southern Metropolis Daily

Chinese police have rescued more than 100 village children sold to work as slave labourers in the booming southern province of Guangdong.

The children, from the ethnic Yi minority, came from poor families in Sichuan about 600 miles ( 960 km) away.

The China Daily said 167 children had been rescued from the factory in the industrial city of Dongguan so far, and several arrests had been made.

China announced a nationwide crackdown on slavery and child labour last year.

It emerged that hundreds of poor farmers, children and mentally disabled people had been forced to work in mines and kilns in Shanxi province and neighbouring Henan.

China's 'dark side'

The BBC's Dan Griffiths, in Beijing, says the latest incident highlights the dark side of China's economic miracle, and according to unconfirmed media reports there may be more than 1,000 child labourers in at least one city in southern China.

Map of China

Local newspapers said Communist Party leaders in Dongguan had told the police and labour departments to rescue all the children and punish those who trafficked them.

But they added that two of the rescued girls appeared reluctant to leave the site because of the hardships of their home village.

Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po paper reported that 107 boys and 60 girls had been taken into care by police.

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