BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government is tightening adoption rules to combat child trafficking, state media reported Tuesday, a day after eight people convicted of abducting or murdering children received sentences including the death penalty.
Only orphanages will be able to offer abandoned infants and children for adoption, and adults who adopt without official registration will not be recognized as legal guardians, the China Daily reported.
China has a thriving domestic black market in children, mostly involving buyers who want more children or those who want them as slave labor.
Forcing people to go through official adoption channels will reduce the demand for abducted children, Ji Gang, the director of the domestic adoption department of the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption, was quoted as saying by the China Daily. The rules being drawn up are due to be introduced by the end of the year.
Authorities in northwestern China announced earlier in the year they would crack down on the trafficking of Xinjiang children, some of whom are bought or kidnapped by gangs who force them into pickpocketing and other nonviolent crime in China's eastern cities.
Xinhua News Agency said the children targeted are mostly aged between 10 and 18 and from four cities in Xinjiang, a region with majority Han Chinese and minority ethnic Uighurs.
Many of them are forced into stealing by gangs after being conned to leave home for large- and medium-sized eastern cities with fake job offers, Xinhua said.
On Monday, eight people were sentenced in five cases, including a father who sold his 12-year-old daughter twice to pickpocket gangs and two child traffickers who beat a boy into a coma and then threw him into a river.
In one case, a ring headed by Umair Tohti coaxed young children in Xinjiang into working as migrant laborers in Huizhou City, in southern Guangdong province, and beat and abused them, Xinhua reported, citing the sentence handed down by the Urumqi Municipal Intermediate People's Court.
On Nov. 9, 2009, Tohti and two others, Tudi Daman and Memet Ahmat, beat a young boy who had attempted to flee into a coma and threw him into a river, where he drowned, Xinhua said.
Tohti was sentenced to death, and Daman and Ahmat were both sentenced to suspended death with a two-year reprieve, according to the verdict. Such sentences usually are commuted to life in prison if the prisoner shows good behavior.
In another case, Arken Wusiman sold his 12-year-old daughter in April 2009 to criminals who trained her as a pickpocket. After the girl was rescued and sent back home, Wusiman sold her again to another pickpocketing gang in January this year. He also sent two other abducted children to work as pickpockets, Xinhua said, citing the Markit county People's Court.
He was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan ($780).
In the three other cases, four people were convicted of child trafficking and sentenced to jail terms ranging from two and a half years to 11 years.
Xinhua said authorities in Xinjiang have sent police who speak Mandarin and Uighur to other provinces to assist in the crackdown on child trafficking.
Xinhua said that since April police had rescued more than 500 abducted Xinjiang children, cracked 90 criminal rings and detained 464 suspects.
The region's Communist Party chief, Zhang Chunxian, said in April that rescued the children will be returned home and placed in government-run shelters that provide schooling and a safe environment, according to Xinhua.