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Chinese doctor admits to stealing babies from hospital and selling them to traffickers

Respected obstetrician admits to stealing babies from the hospital where she worked and selling them to human traffickers.

Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician involved in baby trafficking, is accused of selling babies after telling parents that their newborn babies had infectious diseases or congenital malformation, according to local media. China Daily / Reuters
Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician involved in baby trafficking, is accused of selling babies after telling parents that their newborn babies had infectious diseases or congenital malformation, according to local media. China Daily / Reuters

BEIJING // A doctor in China has admitted to stealing babies from the hospital where she worked and selling them to human traffickers.

Zhang Shuxia, a locally respected and soon-to-retire obstetrician, stood trial on Monday in northern Shaanxi province’s Fuping county, the court reported online.

Zhang told parents their newborns had congenital problems and persuaded them to “sign and give the babies up”, the court said. Calls to the Weinan Intermediate People’s Court and the local Communist Party propaganda department went unanswered.

The case exposed the operations of a baby trafficking ring that centred on Zhang, who worked at the Fuping County Maternal and Child Hospital.

Child trafficking is a big problem in China, despite severe legal punishments that include the death penalty. Families who buy trafficked children are driven partly by the traditional preference for male heirs, a strict one-child policy and ignorance of the law.

The indictment said that from November 2011 to July 2013, Zhang sold seven babies to middlemen who sold the babies to “couples” in central and eastern China. Six of the babies were rescued, but one that was trafficked for 1,000 yuan (Dh606) in April later died.

Zhang was found out when a mother suspected her baby had been abducted and reported her to police in July. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that Zhang had taken the baby home with her and sold him to a man in a neighboring province for 21,600 yuan the same night. He in turn resold the baby to a villager in central China for 59,800 yuan. Several other suspects have been detained in at least four provinces, Xinhua said.

The case has added to public frustration with China’s medical profession over rampant bribery and other abuses.

The Beijing Times newspaper called for a “fair punishment” for Zhang to deter other doctors. “It will inject the authoritativeness of law into professional ethics of doctors and will warn doctors not to take the wrong step that brings them lifelong regret,” the paper said.

* Associated Press