Why is child trafficking rampant in China?
It is believed the tradition of preferring boys over girls and legal loopholes has led to a strong demand from "buyers".
China has advocated a one-child policy since the 1970s, aiming to deter people persistently having children in an attempt to get a male offspring to continue the family line.
In some regions, especially the rural southwest, people are willing to go far to get a boy so that their family lines will "survive".
Another contributing factor has been the mild legal consequences of purchasing abducted children. According to Chinese law, "buyers" shall be exempt from criminal liability if they have not ill-treated or impeded the rescue of trafficked children.
Chen Shiqu, director of the anti-trafficking office, Ministry of Public Security, believes it "is hard to stop buyers".
"We are stepping up efforts to get punishment of buyers into law. We also want to change the way rescued children are treated. When they are taken from a buyer they will be sent to social welfare institutes," the People's Daily quoted Chen as saying.
Adoption also has a role to play.
According to Xu Jianzhong, a senior official at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, about 30,000 children are currently living with foster families across the country and latest figures from the ministry show the number of registered orphans to be about 600,000.
Qin Xiyan, a lawyer from Central China's Hunan province, submitted a proposal to amend the adoption law a few years ago.
The proposal pointed out some parts of the law, implemented in 1992, were outdated, with high qualifications set for foster family applicants, deficient adoption procedures and lack of supervision. Legal loopholes encourage underground adoption and child-trafficking.
In an encouraging sign, a new regulation on foster families was issued on Sept 26. It is expected to help state-certified families adopt orphans and homeless children, Xinhua News Agency quoted Xu as saying.
Internet and DNA technology help bring abducted children home
China introduced a DNA information system solely for child-trafficking cases in 2009. It has been used to identify parent-child relationships by comparing samples collected from families of missing children. "(As of October), it has helped find more than 3,500 kidnapped children," Chen Shiqu said.
More efforts have been introduced to save abducted children. On Nov 3, an online platform was launched in Beijing to construct a database for parents, children, the police and the public at large to share related information.