WASHINGTON, D.C., April 1, 2014 ( — U.S. critics of China's one-child policy are blaming a rise in the trafficking of babies in the country on the population control measure.

On Monday, Reuters reported that poor Chinese families, unable to pay the steep fines associated with bearing a child outside of the law, are using websites to place their infant children for adoption in order to keep them alive. Earlier this year, Chinese officials cracked down on the practice, arresting 1,094 people and “rescu[ing],” according to Reuters, “more than 380 babies.”

A government official said it was “definitely wrong” for websites to be used for the children, and that “these are children, not commodities.” One of the four websites that was shut down in the crackdown, “A Home Where Dreams Come True,” said 37,841 babies were adopted from 2007 through August 2012.


Critics in the U.S., however, told LifeSiteNews that the one-child policy was to blame for the trafficking.

Reggie Littlejohn of Women's Rights Without Frontiers said the Chinese government encouraged “couples [to] report themselves to civil authorities to put their children up for adoption.” Littlejohn said this suggestion is risky for couples. “If the couple reports itself, will the authorities charge them fines, especially since the couple is trying to avoid the fines by avoiding authorities?” she asked.

“This is a situation in which those couples are connecting directly to other couples to take their children” without using an adoption agency, said Littlejohn. “It is possible some of these people are unwittingly giving their children to traffickers.”

Littlejohn said the real problem with the adoption and potential trafficking is not the process, but what inspires it. “This article demonstrates the one-child policy has not been eased or abandoned. What they've done is institute a small exception that allows people with permission of the government to have a second child IF they have a permit from the government, AND one of the two parents is an only child.”

“Fines are beyond the means of many Chinese residents,” according to Littlejohn. Reuters said fines can be over $12,000 per child born outside of the law, but that may be on the low side. One woman says a fine of $54,000 was 14 times her yearly income, and the New York Times reported last year fines can regularly be three to 10 times a family's annual income.

Littlejohn says that unless the fine is paid, “the government denies that child registration, making the child an illegal alien in his or her own country. They can't get a passport, can't marry legally, can't travel, etc.”

“The solution is to end the one-child policy,” said Littlejohn.

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Heritage Foundation Research Assistant Olivia Enos agreed. “I think whether China makes the decision to limit children to one, two, three children — whatever the number — the question to ask is whether it's the place of the government to tell parents how many children they can have,” she said.

Enos, who works in the think tank's Asian Studies Center, said, “One of the biggest issues in China is gendercide. There were approximately 18,000,000 more boys than girls under the age of 15 in 2012, and over 40,000,000 more males in China than females in total, according to All Girls Allowed.”

Enos said that China's one-child law makes trafficking a complicated issue in the nation. “Women trafficking is a problem in North Korea and China, since there are so few women. [But] when you're looking at the traffickers, there are a number of different situations that could be happening.”

Enos noted that male trafficking is also a problem, “since boys are culturally worth more,” and “wealthy families who can't conceive” will pay a great deal to have a child.

Traffickers “in cahoots” with the Chinese government are also a problem, according to Enos. “They forcibly remove the child because a family had too many children. There is a quota by the Chinese government regarding the number of children who can be born annually. A couple can be denied a permit to have a child, even if they are applying as the wife is pregnant.”

Enos was careful to make a distinction between “trafficking” and “child smuggling,” the latter of which she says can be beneficial to saving the lives of infants. “Mothers give up their children to save them, and adoption agencies bring children to Western countries. Over 3,000 Chinese babies are adopted in America every year.” Enos said the smuggling issue is why she believes “it is unlikely that the Chinese government is actually trying to help children” with the website crackdown.

“It doesn't line up with their policies and actions.”

Nick Eberstadt, Harvard professor and American Enterprise Institute Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, said China's one-child policy has put parents in a tough spot. “Parents who have more than the quota of children are being squeezed,” he said. He also noted that “China is the second-largest country involved in local and domestic adoptions in the world.”

Domestic trafficking is an issue in China. Citing the Global Slavery Index, Enos says 2.9 million people are trafficked today in China. One trafficker has admitted he tried to sell his own daughter, taking her back only after no purchases took place.

First Lady Michelle Obama was harshly criticized by many for not addressing the one-child policy in her recent trip to China. Spokespeople for the Obama administration said the trip was a “soft power” trip, designed to open dialogue.