The Doctor and China’s Evil Baby Trade

Malcolm Moore, Telegraph (London), August 10, 2013

To her patients she was a grandmotherly figure, a kindly 56-year-old doctor who delivered hundreds of children in this corner of the Chinese countryside.

Here in the small villages dotted among corn fields and apple orchards, Zhang Shuxia was family.

Not only had she delivered many of the children playing in the muddy streets and courtyard houses, her mother had delivered many of their parents.

But this week, a dark and terrible secret was finally revealed: Dr Zhang, herself a mother of one, was stealing newborns from the county hospital where she worked and selling them on the flourishing black market.

Each time, her ruse was the same. Reducing parents to tears of grief, she claimed their newborns were terminally ill or congenitally deformed. She chose only families whom she knew well, and whom she knew would trust her without question. Her approach was so callous that she charged the families a fee for her usual service.

“When she came to us, she said our baby was dying,” said Zhou Cun, 56, whose grandson was taken by Dr Zhang on a bitter winter morning in 2009.

“I thought it looked healthy, but I believed her because she was the doctor and we had a good relationship with her. She said normally they would throw the baby in a well but in this case she could arrange an old man to come and collect the baby and we just needed to pay her 50 yuan (£5).”

For at least seven years, Dr Zhang’s trade in infants went unquestioned. But this week, she was arrested together with eight of her accomplices at Fuping’s maternity hospital. Six government officials have been fired.

Dr Zhang’s unmasking began on the night of July 16 when a couple from Dongcheng village, Dong Shanshan and Lai Guofeng, gave birth to a son.

Throughout her pregnancy, Dr Zhang had expressed doubts over the health of the foetus, warning Mrs Dong that she had hepatitis B and syphilis and may pass it to her son.

On the night of the birth, the doctor confirmed her worst suspicions, and whisked the child away before the parents could even properly see him.

But Mr Lai grew suspicious and took his wife to a different hospital for blood tests. When the results confirmed that she was not infected with either hepatitis or syphilis, he went to the police.

Initially, no one wanted to listen to his complaint, his voice too small and unimportant to be heard. But when he and his father stood on the top of his white-tiled house, above a pair of hanging red lanterns, and threatened to jump to their deaths, the police finally paid attention.

Scanning the hospital’s CCTV, investigators saw Dr Zhang bundling the child out of the doors. In custody, she confirmed she had sold the baby for 21,600 yuan (£2,200) to a trafficker.

The police quickly put together the distribution chain. The baby passed through two more middlemen, its price rising each time, until it was sold to a couple who were desperate for a son in Henan province, nearly 300 miles away.

This week, the child was returned to his sobbing parents, in scenes that were televised across the country. The family declined to comment further as the child underwent medical treatment. “They want to carry out tests on the baby [to guarantee its health],” said Mr Lai’s mother.

Child trafficking is a huge business in China, partly because the restrictions of the one child policy has denied many couples the chance to naturally produce the society’s most prized goal: a male heir.

There are no statistics for the black industry of stealing babies, but in recent years the trade has become “industrialised”, according to the Chinese media, with entire villages serving as “hubs” through which children are passed.

“My own guess is that there must be around 20,000 to 40,000 children stolen every year,” said Charles Custer, the co-director of Living With Dead Hearts, a recent documentary on Chinese child trafficking.

“In 2011, the government said it had rescued some 8,000 kids, but none of the dozen or so families we were in contact with for the film found their children.”

The most valuable commodity, a healthy ethnic Han Chinese baby boy, can fetch from 40,000 yuan (£4,200) to 60,000 (£6,100) yuan, Mr Custer said. “That is a lot of money in any country, but especially in China,” he added.

The authorities are often complicit in the trade; it only costs a few hundred pounds to register a new identity for a stolen child. Mr Custer said he had come across a case in which a teenage boy had been sold as a slave to work in a brickmaking kiln.

“He escaped and found a government official whom he explained it all to. But instead of helping him, the official promptly took him and sold him to another kiln,” he said.

While local officials are often heinously corrupt, more senior officials have made headway in tackling the problem. “The central government has set up a special police task force and they seem pretty serious about it,” said Mr Custer.


The police believe there could be at least 10 other cases in Fuping, but the rumour that has spread through the villages is that the number of children stolen from the county hospital could be as high as 55.

For couples whose children were recently snatched, the police have been able to quickly hunt down the middlemen who sold on their cargo. For others, there is less hope. Residents have begun to clamour for answers about the deaths of their own children.


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  • Doesn’t the process of adoption completely defeat a man’s natural desire for a male heir? The two are contradictory.

    • Rhialto

      In today’s America, an intelligent, mentally and physically healthy daughter might well provide for a greater chance at genetic survival than a son.

      • willbest

        I think it was pew that did a study that showed a preference in the US for females over males.

    • evilsandmich

      In a nation where everyone is so much alike, it’s a pretty good ‘next best thing’.

  • Spartacus

    “My own guess is that there must be around 20,000 to 40,000 children stolen every year”


    Sorry to sound cruel, but as long as none of them are coming over here, I really don’t care.

    • evilsandmich

      Have no casinos in need of being crowded I guess?

    • NeanderthalDNA

      We have other things to worry about. Like our babies and women being destroyed and violated by evil darkies and their sick worshippers.

      I’ll let the Chinese fix their own problems and not lose sleep over it. Simply off my radar, you know?

    • Antipodean WN


      But ‘here’?

      Where are you writing from Spartacus?

  • JackKrak

    Sorry, no time to read this now – I have to go check out Paul Krugman’s latest column on how China is setting an example for the rest of us on how to organize an economy and society.

  • pcmustgo

    Met a (Muslim) Chinese male the other day who confided in me he found the Ugygur (Eurasian/part white) minority “weird” , despite being 1/4th Ukrainian himself (lol, couldn’t tell… he just looked Chinese to me) and despite being from northwest China.

  • willbest

    I tend to believe such immoral behavior is by design seeing as how China is an oligarchy.

  • BonusGift

    Since we’re on the topic I thought I’d prepare a partial checklist:
    1) Male baby thievery in the tens of thousands, check.
    2) Feticide in the tens of millions (i.e., the selective killing of female fetuses), check.
    3) Eating of baby fetuses (considered a delicacy), check.
    4) Eating of pets (dogs and cats especially), check.
    5) Cheating is considered ‘smart’, check.
    6) Stealing is considered smart (especially YT’s magic technology), check.
    7) Propensity to become addicted to gambling, check.
    8) Propensity to vote and/or support Marxism (e.g., in the US they tend to vote D/cultural Marxist), check.
    9) ‘Model minority’ , no check (largely because there is no such thing as it’s like the existence of Santa Claus or a realistic cultural Marxist).

    • gemjunior

      3) Eating of baby fetuses considered a delicacy!!!??????
      Jeezzzz that is horrible, and although I wasn’t looking at the Chinese to regenerate my faith in humanity, I am totally grossed out.

  • Antipodean WN

    You maybe right Mr Chinaman.

    But I really don’t care.

    I don’t care whether we are morally ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ or ‘smarter’ or ‘dumber’ than Asians.

    I only care that we live among our own kind in our own lands.

    • BonusGift

      There’s that; and what if his feeling is wrong?

    • JohnEngelman

      The only Americans who have the right to that desire are American Indians. I welcome the presence of Chinese in the United States. They are a wonderful people.

  • At least the PRC probably knows what do do about it. I suspect a certain Dr. Zhang will be receiving a court-ordered injection of the Goodbye Juice.

  • David Ashton

    Different people, different history, different culture.

  • JohnEngelman

    Mike Lau,

    Welcome to American Renaissance. Please post more often.

  • Mike Lau

    I also love the East is Red. I was raised on it. I also think Mao Tsetung was one of the greatest men of the 20th Century, by any objective measure. I see you are an empiricist Mr Engelman, one who cares only for the facts. If you look only at the facts, you too, I am sure can only come round to my view of Mao. Kind regards, Mike Lau.