Tag: Shenzhen Daily

It is Legal to Buy a Kidnapped Child in China

It is Legal to Buy a Kidnapped Child in China

I had only been in China for a few months the first time someone told me I could buy a baby in China. I had told one of my new friends at our school in rural, northern Hunan about my dream of adopting a child in China. 20111122-Wiki C Xinhua Missing-Kids-QQ-Page“Why bother with that?” she asked. “Just go to the countryside and buy one for 10,000 RMB.” This suggestion is one that I have heard repeatedly during the years I have lived here. I make no secret about our desire to grow our family through adoption, and most people I meet, while curious, are anxious to help. I have been told to “simply buy a baby” in every place I have lived, from rural Hunan to the metropolis of Shenzhen. I usually reply with “well, we have to adopt legally so that we can get our child American citizenship.” This is enough for them, but I can’t help but wonder about just how easy it is for Chinese people to “buy babies.”

A recent story in the Shenzhen Daily was a real eye-opener on this issue. An article entitled “Child Buyers May Face Punishment” explains that “a draft amendment to the Criminal Law being considered by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress advocates ‘light punishment’ for buyers who don’t harm abducted children or hinder their rescue.” The article goes on to say that “most buyers treat abducted children as their own, and won’t be punished, said Chen Shiqu, director of the Ministry of Public Security’s anti-trafficking office.” Currently, people who buy abducted children in China do not face legal consequences if caught. 

Child trafficking in China is a huge problem. China has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world, with numbers ranging from 20,000-200,000 each year. Too often, kidnapped children are not just sold domestically, but to international adoption agencies as well. The kidnapping problem even affects China’s Southeast Asian neighbors, with many girls and women in neighboring countries kidnapped and trafficked into China as “brides” for China’s growing bachelor population.

I know the pain of not having a child. My adoption journey has spanned over a decade and we are still waiting. Of course, if adoption was as simple as “buying a baby,” it would be tempting. I want a baby more than anything. But adoption laws and procedures exist for many reasons, chief among them the protection of the child. It is important to make sure that adopted children are not stolen and that they will be well taken care of. How could you sleep at night knowing that the only reason you are a parent is because you stole someone else’s child?

A woman holds a candle behind a board showing photos of missing children during a campaign to spread information to search for them in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province.
A woman holds a candle behind a board showing photos of missing children during a campaign to spread information to search for them in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province.

The adoption system is flawed – and I mean every adoption system in every country and the international programs. The rules are too strict and the programs are much too expensive, but you don’t solve those problems by going outside the system – especially if going outside the system means kidnapping someone else’s child.

While I am completely sympathetic to the pain that would drive parents to buy a child to complete their families, I cannot condone their actions. People who buy children from child traffickers are child traffickers, and they should face legal consequences. Every link in the child trafficking chain must be smashed to stop this horrendous crime, and that includes the buyers who only want to be mommies and daddies.

I hope that the Standing Committee endorses the draft amendment that was presented to them that all buyers of stolen children be punished.

What about you? Do you think people who buy stolen children should be punished? Let me know in the comments. 

Care for comfort women begins at home

Care for comfort women begins at home

The following was originally published in The Shenzhen Daily. It is republished here in full with links to sources added. 

Former comfort woman Wang ZhiFeng
Former comfort woman Wang ZhiFeng

HARDLY a week goes by that the Chinese Government does not criticize the Japanese Government for refusing to acknowledge and apologize for its crimes in China during World War II. Since 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, the outcry against Japan and calls to remember the Rape of Nanjing have been constant.

One of the most controversial aspects of this issue is that of comfort women, a placid euphemism for the brutal kidnapping and rape of hundreds of thousands of women throughout Asia by Japanese soldiers during the war. Even though as many as 400,000 women suffered as sex slaves during the war, some of Japan’s top officials have gone so far as to deny the women even existed.

The suffering of the comfort women did not end with the war. The terrible facts of life after the war are described in detail in Peipei Qiu’s new book “Chinese Comfort Women.” Many comfort women hid their past as best they could because they were treated so shamefully by Chinese society. Today, only 23 comfort women are officially counted in China, but there could be many more who kept silent about their past after seeing their fellow comfort women persecuted again and again. Many of them then suffered humiliation and indignities at the hands of their own countrymen during the Cultural Revolution. Their property was confiscated, their families punished, and they were publicly “struggled” against as “Japanese collaborators.”

BN-DJ759_comfor_DV_20140624000037Even today, the few known comfort women do not receive any support from the Central Government, though a few receive a paltry sum of 100 yuan a month as part of local social security schemes. A report in China Daily describes the living conditions of the women today as “desperate.” The newspaper quoted Su Zhiliang, director of the Research Center at Shanghai Normal University, as saying, “Most of the former comfort women still alive in China live in desperate conditions — physically, socially, and financially — and they long for attention, recognition, and support from society.”

Caring for comfort women needs to begin at home. According to some statistics, at least 40 percent of former comfort women never married because they were ostracized by society. This leaves them without descendants to care for them today. Most of the women suffered from devastating health consequences — infertility, chronic pain, etc. — that can cost thousands of yuan per month in medical bills. Some of the comfort women are being cared for by NGOs and individuals. The NGOs and individuals are collecting their stories, donating money and providing funerals for those who pass away. Why isn’t the government taking the lead in these efforts?

In South Korea, another country whose women were abused by the Japanese troops, their comfort women are well taken care of. They live in special nursing homes and have all their medical and physical needs cared for by the government. Li Xiaofang is a photographer and historical researcher who has been recording the lives of the surviving comfort women for more than a decade. He told China Daily, “There are more former comfort women here in China than in South Korea, and their experiences were equally miserable… they deserve more attention and support.”

While the Japanese should apologize and pay for their war crimes, the women they brutalized are not Japanese, they are Chinese. It is the responsibility of the Chinese Government to care for these aging testaments to history. Waiting for the Japanese to step in and take responsibility for the comfort women is a waste of time and precious lives. The Chinese Government can act now and take the lead in showing the world how these women should be honored.

Why China Needs Bloggers

Why China Needs Bloggers

my faceThe bad thing about working for a Chinese newspaper is having to sometimes proof articles that are are so blatantly propagandist or that so closely toe the party line, they make my eyes hurt. I love my job (a lot, seriously), but the amount of articles that I have to read regarding how much China is awesome and America sucks can grate on my nerves. It’s easy for most people to ignore, just don’t read it. But reading it, and reading it closely several times, is my job, so I can’t escape it.

Last week, an article ran basically blaming bloggers for social unrest, calling them absurd, irresponsible hypocrites. After ranting to my husband over dinner about what BS the article was, he encouraged me to write a rebuttal to the paper. So I did. On the advice of my friend Ray Hecht, I removed any direct reference to the previous article (no need to make enemies). To  my surprise, the newspaper ran my article with hardly any edits. The Shenzhen Daily originally ran the piece, “Why China Needs Bloggers,” in their newspaper, but I have copied it below for your convenience.

IN 2009, Kim Lee, the American wife of Crazy English founder Li Yang, was beaten by her husband for the last time. Covered in bruises, she went to the police station in Beijing to ask for help. But the police refused. “You and your husband are good people, just go home, calm down a little, and everything will be fine.” Everything was not fine.

Li Yang had made beating his wife a way of life. So Kim Lee went home, took pictures of her bruises and posted them to her Weibo account and her measly 23 followers. By the next day, 20,000 people saw what Li Yang had done. Within weeks, the world would know. By the end of 2013, Kim Lee was awarded a divorce, custody of her three children, and a comfortable alimony settlement. Kim Lee did not get justice because of the aid of the police; she got it because of social media.

In 2006, Tang Hui’s 11-year-old daughter was kidnapped by a sex trafficking ring. The police refused to help her. Tang eventually found her daughter on her own. The men who kidnapped and raped the girl were eventually brought to trial, but the case was badly managed and repeatedly bungled. After only two men were sentenced to death and the others only received jail sentences, Tang did not feel justice was served. She began using her right as a citizen to petition the court. The justice officials were incensed that she would speak out against them and had her arrested. She was sent to a “re-education facility” against her will without a trial and ordered to stay there for 18 months.

However, when bloggers and other Internet citizens found out about how Tang was being punished for exercising her legal rights, the outcry was massive. Tang was released within a week, eventually received a formal apology from the authorities in Hunan and a small settlement. Tang did not receive justice because she deserved it; she received justice thanks to all the bloggers out there who brought international attention to her case.

Many people think that bloggers are only troublemakers who harbor dissent and bring chaos to the nation, but this simply isn’t the case. Trouble, dissent and chaos are already here, and it is people who do not have power — the wives, the mothers, the street peddlers — who are the victims. However, thanks to the Internet and active bloggers, these victims are now being given a voice. When the government, the police, and the media refuse to help the people, it is the bloggers who speak out and get things done. Most bloggers are not exacerbating social unrest. They want what everyone wants — justice — and they use the freedom of the Internet to exact it.

Are there a few bad apples that spread falsehoods and want to undermine the State? Certainly. Not everyone who has a voice is worth listening to. But a few bad apples do not spoil the bunch. People need to learn how to evaluate sources, react with a calm head, and be trusted with all the facts. Obviously, people are going to be reactionary when they are only fed half-truths and whole lies.

The majority of bloggers seek truth, honesty and openness. What are people supposed to do when the government, the police, and the mainstream media refuse to help? Bloggers often fill a necessary void in people’s lives; they are on the front lines of justice every day.

What do you think? Are bloggers part of the problem or part of the solution?

Cloning pets — love or lunacy?

Cloning pets — love or lunacy?

cloned puppies 2MOST people love their pets. Indeed, many people consider their pets to be members of the family. The death of a beloved pet can be truly devastating. But how far would you go to keep your little Fido with you forever? My Friend Again, a company in South Korea, is pioneering pet cloning. For some people, the US$100,000 price tag is worth having their precious family member back

While human cloning is illegal in most parts of the world, animal cloning is a far less regulated business, and a lucrative business at that. While there are no exact stats on how many people have paid for cloned pets or how much they have paid, the price tag of US$50,000 to US$100,000 has not stopped some pet owners from cloning their pets multiple times. American cable station TLC even ran a series called “I Cloned My Pet” in 2012 and 2013 that followed several distraught families as they went through the heart-rending process of reconnecting with their lost pets.

The process is surprisingly simple for pet owners. Owners can make plans ahead of time by ordering a biopsy kit from the cloning company. The owner’s local vet will receive the kit and instructions on extracting living tissue from the pet. The sample is then frozen and kept in storage until the owner decides to go ahead with the cloning process. If a pet has already died, there is still a chance that living tissue could be extracted from the animal within five days.

Once the owner decides to proceed with the cloning, all the owner needs to do is sign a form and pay the money. It could take up to a year for a healthy cloned baby to be born, though. The in vitro fertilization of the surrogate mother does not always work the first time, just like in humans, but once the healthy puppy arrives, the owner can fly to South Korea to pick it up and take it home when it is about 3 months old.

Is it exactly like the old pet? No. While it may look like the original pet and have the same genetics, animals, like people, are influenced by their surroundings and upbringings. The new puppy will not have the same memories or experiences as the original, so it will not behave exactly the same. Also, some people think that spending US$100,000 on a designer pet when there are millions of pets put to sleep in shelters around the world every year is selfish.

For pet owners willing to fork out the cash, though, the new babies are worth it. “My pet was the love of my life,” says bereaved pet owner Danielle about her sweet boy, Trouble. Fellow grieving pet parent Peter agrees. “I think about her every second,” he says of his lost girl, Wolfie. For these pet parents and countless others, any amount of money is worthwhile if they can hold their fur baby again. If the procedure becomes more popular and the price drops, who knows how many more people might join their ranks in this pioneering science.

Personally, I love my dog like a child. I have panic attacks when I am separated from her too long and I worry about her constantly. She is my best friend and has gotten me through some really hard times. She is only three years old, and small breeds like hers commonly live at least 15 years. Her natural death is still many, many years away, but I know it will happen. It worries me already just because I know it is inevitable. But would I clone her if she died? If money was no option, I can see it being tempting. My last dog, Timber, died long before his time and I miss him every day. Even though I know I could not have brought him to China (he was an Alaskan Malamute), I can’t stop thinking about him. But would I clone him or Vash? I don’t think I would. Timber was a shelter dog. I got him when he was two years old, full-grown in doggy years. There are so many amazing dogs in shelters, I think, when I was ready to love again, I would have to adopt a shelter dog again. However, I am not in the camp who think people who clone their dogs are selfish. As I said, I completely understand the strength of that pet-pet parent bond and I don’t think anyone should judge someone who loves their dog that much. After living in a country where I see animals abused on nearly a daily basis, I think that more people should love their pets enough that they would clone them if they died. If everyone loves their pets that much, there wouldn’t be needy animals in shelters because they would all be taken care of properly.

Vash helping Zoe move into her dorm.
Vash so happy with her new toy.
Vash doing her Groucho Marx impression.

What do you think? Would you ever clone your pet?