Shackled by her neck and locked up all day in a squalid shack, recent video footage of a mentally-ill woman imprisoned by her husband has stirred up outrage in China. Yang, the mother of eight, was dressed in ragged clothes and huddling for warmth amid freezing winter temperatures in a village in Feng County, Xuzhou, Jiangsu province.
After repeated denials, local authorities finally admitted that Yang’s case was actually a case of human trafficking. As a result, the person claiming to be her husband has been charged with “illegal detention,” BBC reported.
China’s economic growth and openness have not necessarily brought greater security for women. Today, this crime remains prevalent in China, with foreigners also falling prey to human trafficking.
Seng Moon, an impoverished refugee in northeastern Myanmar, was convinced by her sister-in-law to cross the border into China to find a job. Instead, she passed out in the car after receiving a travel sickness pill. When Seng Moon awoke, her hands were tied behind her back, and she was alone with a Chinese family. After several months, the sister-in-law came back only to tell Seng Moon that she was to be married to a Chinese man.
After being moved to another house, the poor girl was tied up and locked in a room. According to CNN’s report, her new “husband” would bring her meals then rape her. The abuse and rape did not stop until Seng Moon became pregnant. After giving birth to a baby boy, she asked to go home to Myanmar and got a yes from her husband, but he said her baby needed to stay.
Seng Moon’s and Yang’s stories are just two cases brought to light by the international media, but countless victims of human trafficking in China are possibly enduring in darkness.
According to “2021 Trafficking in Persons Report: China” by the U.S. Department of State, “Women and girls from South Asia, Southeast Asia, and several countries in Africa experience forced labor in domestic service, forced concubinism leading to forced childbearing, and sex trafficking via forced and fraudulent marriage to Chinese men.”
A disastrous policy
Women trafficking, from a demographer, viewpoint is likely a consequence of gender imbalance or “missing girls” in China, which stems from its decades-long one-child policy and the preference for boys.
China’s one-child policy started in 1980 after the Chinese population increased from around 540 million to 969 million over the 1949-1980 period. The authorities argued that it was a key factor in supporting the country’s economic boom.
Family planning programs instituted in other countries were designed to encourage parents to have the number of children they desired. But the Chinese ones operated under strict control and dictating interventions from the government, including fines for violators and often forced abortions.
The policy restricted most couples to only a single offspring, with few exceptions. However, civil servants and employees of government-affiliated organizations, including universities, risked losing their jobs if they had more than one child.
If parents failed to pay a fine, they could not register their second child in the national household system, meaning they did not exist legally and would have no access to social services like health care and education.
In 2013, famous filmmaker Zhang Yimou and his wife Chen Ting were fined $1.2 million for having three children, Wall Street Journal reported.
Looking at the slogans once posted, one can easily feel the harshness of birth control policy in China, for example:
- “If one person violates the law, the whole village will be sterilized
- Rather another tomb than another baby
- If he did not have a vasectomy as he should, his house will be torn down
- If she did not have an abortion as she should, her cows and rice fields will be confiscated.”
Besides forced abortions and fines imposed by the State, the one-child policy also resulted in behavioral reactions from families, including sex-selective abortions or infanticide targeting girls. Other parents tried to give their female babies a chance of survival by sending them to Buddhist nunneries.
In his documentary “Girls in the Nunnery,” Chinese dissident Yao Cheng, a volunteer at New York-based Women’s Rights in China (WRIC), revealed that thousands of girls were adopted from dozens of Buddhists nunneries in Tongcheng, Anhui. “The newborns were left in a paper box or a basket padded with a blanket,” he said. “The lucky ones were raised by the nuns, but the nuns could only afford to raise a couple to a few; most others either froze to death or were killed by wild dogs. Of course, if any family was willing to adopt a female baby, the nuns would give it to them.”
Unfortunately, Yao’s effort to rescue many girls who grew up in a nunnery and to locate their biological families earned him 22 months of imprisonment in China in 2013.
According to Yao, Chinese babies, both male and female, could become abduction, kidnapping, and trafficking victims.
The one-child policy only ended in January 2016 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) realized its disastrous social and economic impacts. Faced with a shrinking and aging population, the CCP has loosened restrictions on family sizes, permitting couples to have a second child, and finally introduced a three-child policy in May 2021.
But these efforts seem to be too late. In an article in The Guardian in 2019, Yi Fuxian, a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a longtime critic of the family planning policies, said: “China should have stopped the policy 28 years ago.”
Nowadays, China faces a shrinking workforce, an aging population, and a serious gender imbalance. Figures from China’s 2020 national census showed 17.52 million more men than women in the population aged between 20-40.
“In normal circumstances, the sex ratio at birth in China is usually considered to be 106 [males to 100 females],” said Jiang Quanbao, a demography professor at Xian Jiaotong University. He added around 7 million of the 17.52 million quoted in the census could be a consequence of sex-selective abortion.
With tens of millions of bachelors in China, there is a wide-ranging need for brides, which has created a market for human trafficking. A 2019 investigation by Human Rights Watch discovered a bride trafficking network from northern Myanmar into China, where Burmese females were tricked by brokers and sold for about $3,000 to $13,000 to Chinese families. Once purchased, the girls and women were held prisoner and pressured to produce babies as fast as possible.
A hyper profitable industry
Broadly speaking, human trafficking is defined as the trade of humans for forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. In addition, it may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal. According to this broad definition, the situation in China is much more complicated with the involvement of the CCP.
Women’s rights activist Yao Cheng revealed that, according to statistics compiled by Chinese non-profits, including WRIC, an estimated 70,000 children are abducted annually, not considering those who were abandoned. The missing children were purchased as child brides (who would be married to a family member when the child reaches an appropriate age), prostitutes, or even organ donors.
Yao recalled witnessing in Santow, Guangdong, beds for boys and girls who had been sent to Southeast Asia for organ harvesting. Yao said that despite all the evidence he had collected, the police refused to investigate or take any action to crack down on the crimes.
Yao said the Chinese police are good at catching state enemies, but not the traffickers, because many police are involved in the operations, which form a super lucrative industrial chain. He also believes that high-level officials in the CCP backed many schemes because some of them have themselves required an organ transplant. “Why can many of those senior Party cadres, supposedly frail after being through the wars and all the hardships in early life, live into their 90s and 100s?” Yao said. “Look at Jiang Zemin, he’s nearly 100 years old. There’s also a high demand for organs in the Chinese market,” he asserted.
Yao’s accusations are not baseless. In 2016, the United States House of Representatives passed H.Res.343, an item of legislation that expresses concern on “persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from nonconsenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China.”
Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) spoke on the House floor, “These allegations are particularly egregious: Authorities in Chinese prisons targeting prisoners, because of their religious beliefs, and then making a profit by trafficking these victims’ organs. I cannot think of hardly anything that is more disgusting than that.”
Fox News in 2019 reported that after 12 months of independent assessment of all available evidence, the China Tribunal panel—which the International Coalition initiated to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), an international human rights charity—announced its final findings in June. The tribunal highlighted that there were “extraordinarily short waiting times for organs to be available for transplantation,” and many websites advertised hearts, lungs, and kidneys for sale—suggesting an on-demand industry.
“Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years, and Falun Gong practitioners have been one—and probably the main—source of organ supply,” concluded the report, indicating the growing transplant industry already worth over $1 billion.
Moreover, after years of underground research and analysis, the China Organ Harvest Research Center (COHRC), which also testified before the China Tribunal, released a report in July 2019 that said the “on-demand killing of prisoners of conscience is driven by the state, run on an industrial scale and carried out by both military and civilian institutions.”
The CCP brags about its most extensive voluntary organ donation system in Asia. Still, experts argue that the country lacks a history of willful organ donation, and the official figures—10,000 transplants each year—”understates the real volume” of 60,000–100,000 per year, as pledged by researchers.
Fox News added that “According to the COHRC, there are mountains of money to be made. Data from 2007 shows that hospitals charged more than $65,000 for a kidney transplant, $130,000 for liver, and more than $150,000 for lung or heart. Desperate patients might make a high-price “donation” for a new organ at top-speed.”
A scary silence
Returning to the recent story of Yang, the mentally-ill mother in Xuzhou, doubts were raised over whether she had consented to bear eight children or had been exploited as a “baby-making machine.” Netizens’ outrage is provoked by the way her husband was treating her and by authorities for not addressing her general welfare for so long.
In a video recently circulated on the Internet, Luo Xiang, a professor of Chinese law, explained the legal flaws of the human trafficking crime in China. For example, under Chinese law, illegally buying a parrot carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while illegally buying a woman has a maximum sentence of three years.
A recent report from The U.S. Department of State pointed out that Article 241 of China’s Criminal Code “criminalized the purchase of abducted women or children and prescribed a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment, short-term detention, or controlled release.
“Penalties under this provision were not alone sufficiently stringent; however, Article 241 stipulated that if an individual purchased an abducted woman or child and then subjected them to “forcible sexual relations,” they would face additional penalties under the criminal code’s rape provisions.”
So far, the law does exist and, to some extent, imposes punishments on criminals, but it’s ineffective if no one discovers or cares about the crime.
In 2011, Wang Yue, a two-year-old Chinese girl, was struck by a white van, which drove off, leaving her to bleed on a narrow street of Foshan in the far southern province of Guangdong. The surveillance video showed more than a dozen people walking or driving past the girl; some stared before moving on. Subsequently, another large truck ran over Wang’s legs with front and back wheels. She was eventually pulled to the side of the street by a female rubbish scavenger before her mother, a migrant worker, rushed into the frame.
It is apparent in the video that Wang is crying, holding her head, moving her arms and legs, and bleeding. She was sent to a hospital for treatment but succumbed to her injuries and died after more than one week.
As Reuters reported, both drivers who ran over the girl were arrested, but Internet users have flooded microblogs criticizing the indifference of those who left her for dead.
“Now people have become so selfish. So many people walked by but no one helped her because they didn’t want to get into trouble,” said Yang Yaying, a 21-year-old Beijing resident.
The pitiful case of Wang Yue has sounded the warning bell over the drastically degrading morals in Chinese society. In ancient China, Confucius’s five cardinal virtues grounded personal and social morality. With these principles, the Chinese traditional culture embodied honesty, kindness, harmony, and tolerance, which have virtually been eroded in the current communist society.
Eastern tradition regards human beings as the spirit of all matter and one of the Three Talents (heaven, earth, and human beings), while Western religions explain God created man in his own image. Accordingly, human life is endowed with higher value, purpose, and dignity. In ancient China, families were considered prosperous if they had many children.
In the eyes of atheists and materialists, by contrast, human life has no such unique quality. Engels, a father of communism, wrote, “Life is the mode of existence of protein bodies.” Correspondingly, human life is at most a configuration of proteins, with no essential difference between animals and plants.
The CCP holds that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Since coming to power, with continual political movements and mass killings during the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Massacre, the CCP takes lives and buries traditional culture and incites hatred among people. Under the CCP, neighbors may turn into strangers, and family members could become enemies.
Minghui.org once reported the case of Ms. Yang Lirong, 34, from Beimen Street, Dingzhou City, Baoding Prefecture, Hebei Province. “Her family was often harassed and intimidated by the police because she practiced Falun Gong. On Feb. 8, 2002, after a nighttime police raid, Ms. Yang’s husband, a driver working for the Bureau of Standards and Meteorology, was traumatized and afraid of losing his job. He could not withstand the tremendous pressure the authorities exerted on him. Early the following day, taking advantage of the time when their elderly parents had stepped out of the house, he strangled his wife. Yang Lirong died tragically, leaving behind a 10-year-old son.
Her husband reported the incident to the authorities, and the police hurried to the scene to conduct an autopsy on Ms. Yang’s body, which was still warm. They removed many organs from her body while the organs were still radiating heat, and blood gushed out. A Dingzhou Public Security Bureau staff member said, ‘This is no autopsy; it is vivisection!'”
The CCP strives to desensitize people toward others’ suffering by surrounding them with constant killing to maintain its dictatorial rule.
The tragedy of two-year-old Wang Yue suggests that probably, this goal was successfully reached.
Human trafficking, sex-selective abortion, infanticide, and organ harvesting rampant in China are various facets of a modern society losing its soul.
Only without the CCP will Chinese people restore traditional virtues and historical glory. Only without the Chinese Communist Party does China have hope.