Chinese police rescued 92 children and two women from a gang of kidnappers and arrested 301 suspects, Chinese state media reported on Saturday. The bust, which occurred earlier this month, is one of the biggest crackdowns on kidnappers in China in recent years.
Police had been investigating the gang for six months before simultaneously raiding locations in 11 provinces on Sept. 11, state news agency Xinhua said, quoting the Ministry of Public Security.
But the large bust is unlikely to put a significant dent in China’s kidnapping crisis. The Chinese government says a few thousand children are kidnapped each year, but independent humanitarian agencies say the number could be closer to 70,000. By comparison, only about 100 children are abducted by strangers each year in the United States.
Experts point to several factors for China’s high abduction rate. Many families still hold onto a traditional view that boys are better than girls, they say. And because of China’s one-child policy, families resort to paying for boys if they can’t have one of their own.
Some children are also sold to adoption agencies that charge high fees for international adoptions.
While critics accuse the Chinese government of downplaying the scope of the issue, officials have begun a countrywide crackdown on kidnappings.
In 2011, police said they had rescued more than 13,000 children and 23,000 women over the previous two years. Government officials also vowed to impose harsher punishments on those who buy kidnapped children.
A United Nations committee is scheduled to issue a report on China’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in October. The document is meant to hold nations accountable for ensuring the health and safety of children.
Al Jazeera and Reuters