Family-planning officials took & sold babies

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Alleged child trafficking involving family-planning officials in Hunan Province stunned the nation on Monday.

Over the last 10 years, family-planning "enforcers" in Shaoyang have seized at least 20 children from Longhui county, who were born outside their parents' birth quota, and dispatched them to a local children welfare center, according to media reports.

The welfare center then named all the seized children "Shao" and listed them as orphans available for US$3,000 adoption. Some now live in the US, the Netherlands and Poland and have never met with their Chinese parents since adoption, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a report by Caixin Century Magazine.

Village officials usually accompanied the enforcers when taking a child, according to the report.

Their explanation for the action was that either the child had been illegally adopted or the parents had breached the national one-child policy and could not afford a fine.

Some victims were actually a family's first child, the report said.

"They mistook my daughter for being illegal when my wife and I were working in Shenzhen," Yang Libing, a local migrant worker, told the magazine, adding that their 7-year-old child has been found living in the US.

The child-snatching phenomenon climaxed in about 2005, the Beijing-based magazine reported, and some welfare centers even worked with human traffickers to obtain children and reclassify them as orphans for "export."

The magazine said that for every child sent to a welfare center, the family-planning office could receive 1,000 yuan (US$154) or more from the welfare center.

"Before 1997, they usually punished us by tearing down our houses for breaching the one-child policy," Yuan Chaoren, a villager, told the magazine.

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