Calls on social media to hand down death sentences to anyone involved in child trafficking have created a heated debate on appropriate punishment for such offenses.
A post with pictures and stories of abducted children on the messaging app WeChat that called for the child traffickers to get the death penalty had been reposted 540,000 times by Thursday evening. Currently, only the most serious trafficking crimes are punishable by death. The minimum penalty is five years in prison.
Last year, police rescued more than 13,000 abducted children. Some of the children had been sold to one of a growing number of childless families.
Wu Ming'an, a criminal law professor at the University of Political Science and Law, said that the Criminal Law already stipulates that people who traffic in children may be subject to the death penalty, so it would be unnecessary to change the law.
"It is irrational for people to ask for the death penalty on all activities involving the abduction and trading of children," Wu said.
"And you can't kill everyone who participates in the crime. A law allowing the death penalty for the buyers is unlikely. People who buy a child purely because they want to have a child in the family should not be sentenced to death.
"The public should be aware that not all criminals deserve death," Wu said.
Wu suggested children should be protected by every possible means, and systems that incorporate all government departments in fighting human trafficking should be created.
He said the authorities should start collecting DNA samples from all newborns and, if possible, from their parents, as this would help identity children and prevent crimes.
Ministry of Public Security official Chen Shiqu said he supports the death penalty for those guilty of serious human trafficking offenses.
The law allows human traffickers who cause the death of abductees to be executed.