A matchmaking website on Thursday apologized for posting an online campaign calling for the death penalty for all child traffickers for commercial purposes, as the advocacy triggered heated debate overnight.
The advocacy, which read "I firmly suggest that authorities revise laws on child trafficking and I insist that child traffickers be sentenced to death while buyers be sentenced to life" has gained the support of hundreds of thousands of netizens.
While the public expressed anger over child traffickers, some said it was a dating website's marketing stunt.
The website, zhenai.com, said in a statement on Thursday that the company has been paying great attention to social issues. It claimed that some staff members launched the promotion without the company's approval out of passion for the topic and had been seriously punished.
A survey conducted by Sina Weibo showed that 85 percent of 876 respondents support the call for the death penalty while law experts said that "all child traffickers be sentenced to death" should not be supported.
"The campaign was emotional but unreasonable in legal terms. Abolishing the death penalty is a major global trend and our country has been reducing the number of death penalties in recent years," Mo Shaoping, a law professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times.
Criminals should be slapped with different penalties in accordance with the offenses they had committed, said Mo. "Many people claim that if harsher punishments are imposed, the number of crimes will drop. This is not necessarily the case. The death penalty will not solve the problem."
China's Criminal Law states that human traffickers can be sentenced to death when the circumstances are particularly serious.
"The problem lies in the huge demand," Wu Youshui, a lawyer from the Hangzhou-based Bijian Law Firm, told the Global Times.
"The death penalty may encourage human traffickers to kill the children to cover their crimes," he added.
Wu said that many people, especially in rural areas where people believe that only boys can carry on the family bloodline, buy children to avoid paying high social maintenance fees, the regulation penalizes people for violating the family planning policy.
Furthermore, China's complex adoption process also compels many people to resort to child trafficking to exploit policy loopholes or simply make things easy, Wu said.
China's Adoption Law says couples who have no children are allowed to adopt one child. It adds that children under 14 years old can only be adopted if they meet one of three conditions: they are orphans, their parents cannot be located, or their parents have special difficulties raising them, which are hard to prove.