China will launch a nationwide cross-department campaign to crack down on illegal surrogacy starting this month.
The nine-month campaign will last until the end of this year and will involve 12 government departments focusing on spotting and punishing medical personnel and intermediary agencies that help perform surrogate pregnancy services, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) announced Thursday.
Internet website, TV, radio and print media that carry surrogacy ads will also be cleansed, while the authorities will step up supervision over the sale and circulation of assisted reproductive technology (ART) drugs and medical equipment, it said.
Surrogacy is strictly banned in China, but the wombs-for-rent businesses has thrived in the world's most populous country, where some studies indicate an estimated one in eight couples face fertility problems.
Reports of a secretive surrogate pregnancy service, operating in a legal "grey area," were widespread in early 2006 and intermediary websites were recruiting volunteers despite government crackdown.
China launched a similar campaign against ART abuse in 2013.