One Child Policy Leads to Human Trafficking


According to a report in the Caixin Century magazine, population control officials in the Chinese province of Hunan seized at least 16 babies born in violation of the one-child policy, sent them to state-run orphanages, and then sold them abroad for adoption. In the words of Steven W. Mosher, China expert and president of the Population Research Institute, “if this is true (which we at PRI believe it to be based on our own research in China), then this act represents a serious human rights violation and a clear instance of human trafficking.”

“Before 1997, they usually punished us by tearing down our houses for breaching the one-child policy, but after 2000 they began to confiscate our children,” the magazine quoted villager Yuan Chaoren as saying.

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily

Email subscribe inline (#4)

The children, reportedly from Longhui county near the city of Shaoyang, were abducted by local authorities who accused their parents of breaching the one-child policy or illegally adopting children. Then, according to Caixin Century, the local family planning office sent them to local orphanages, which listed them as being available for adoption. The report added that the office could get 1,000 renminbi or more for each child. The orphanages in turn receive $3,000 to $5,000 for each child adopted overseas, money that is paid by the adoptive parents. The magazine reported that at least one migrant worker said she had found her daughter had been adopted abroad and was now living in the United States.

Mosher says the news is heartbreaking, but not surprising. “This report is corroborated by research that PRI conducted on the ground in China back in 2009. In Lipu county, located in northern Guangxi province, we were told by a village official that ‘at the present time, if you don’t pay the fine, they come and abduct the baby you just gave birth to and give it to someone else.’ It is also worth noting that these two reports come from the same general area of China and occurred in neighboring provinces.”

“Of course,” he says, “local officials deny any involvement in child trafficking. But it is well known that the so-called ‘job responsibility system’ requires them to rigorously enforce the one-child policy, and that their success (or failure) in this area will determine future promotions (or demotions). Abducting and selling an ‘illegal’ baby or child would not only enable an official to eliminate a potential black mark on his record, it would allow him to make a profit at the same time. In this way, the one-child policy, through its system of perverse and inhumane rewards and punishment, encourages officials to violate the fundamental right of parents to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children.”


  • Colin Mason

    Colin Mason is the Director of Media Production at the Population Research Institute.

Join the Conversation

in our Telegram Chat

Or find us on

Editor's picks

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Signup to receive new Crisis articles daily

Email subscribe stack
Share to...