The “Xuzhou mother-of-eight” case reflects China’s terrible human trafficking situation, which has shocked the international community. However, Chinese officials subsequently issued statements to whitewash the case, which aroused widespread public criticism.
Previously, the footage posted online late last November showed a woman surnamed Yang, chained by the neck in a small shed. Authorities then quickly dismissed concerns about kidnapping or human trafficking.
As The Washington Post reported on Feb 9, the Fengxian propaganda department’s initial statement misspelled the woman’s surname and ignored concerns. “There was no abduction and trafficking,” they stated, adding that the woman had a mental disorder and was receiving medical care as well as “further assistance so that the family can enjoy a warm Lunar New Year.”
A few days later, a second statement confirmed that the woman was chained because she had started to show “abnormal speech and behavior” following her 1996 divorce from a Baoshan city man.
A third statement clarified her identity, Xiao Huamei, from Fugong County, Yunnan Province, and that she was later transferred to Jiangsu by a woman named Sang for “treatment.” Sang has since claimed to have “lost” Yang shortly after arriving in Jiangsu. Officials also said that her missing teeth were simply the result of periodontal disease.
According to the official statement, the woman known as Yang lived with her husband Dong for several years and bore him eight children. Investigators added that all of Dong’s eight children had been confirmed as Dong and Yang’s biological children.
A senior media official who requested anonymity said, “It erupted just before the Lunar New Year and the Winter Olympics, and their first reaction is to cover it up and keep anyone from out of town out,” they said. “I learned yesterday via a friend that the husband had been arrested.” But, unfortunately, “they don’t let independent journalists do the reporting, so I can’t get these questions answered.”
When repeated calls to the Feng County Police Department went unanswered during business hours, an official answered the phone and sent all inquiries to the propaganda department. After that, a propaganda official from China’s Feng County committee referred the requests to China’s Cyberspace Administration and declined to answer when asked if Jiangsu Province’s Department of Propaganda had taken up the case.
The official said, “I don’t know about that, because our department is not responsible for that.”
According to Chinese media Apollo, on Feb 10, Taiwanese Wu Zijia, chairman of the “Beautiful Island Electronic News,” said on the program that the matter is so indecent that it cannot be added.
On the same day, in the program “Critical Moment,” Wu Zijia said that Xuzhou was initially a very wealthy place, but human trafficking is rampant now. Moreover, during the Winter Olympics, the Chinese officials wanted to suppress this news. Therefore, according to Zijia, CCTV helped the regime and repeated the third claim that the woman surnamed Yang had been married and was taken to Jiangsu for treatment for illness.
Wu Zijia said, “Now this kind of thing is happening to tens of thousands of people, but the central authority is silent.”