BEIJING - China is witnessing an increasing number of foreign women who have been cheated, kidnapped and smuggled into the country, a senior official has said.
Most of these women are from rural areas in Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos. They eagerly want to find jobs in China or marry rich Chinese men to escape poverty, Chen Shiqu, director of the Ministry of Public Security's anti-human trafficking office, told China Daily in an exclusive interview.
"The number of foreign women trafficked to China is definitely rising," Chen said, without disclosing how many women have been rescued by Chinese police nationally.
However, in North China's Hebei province, police have rescued 206 trafficked foreign brides since April 2009, mainly from Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, according to figures from the provincial public security department.
Chen said the lack of natural barriers, such as rivers or mountains in the border areas between China and Southeast Asian countries, in addition to poverty in some regions in these countries, contribute to the rising trafficking of foreign women.
The victims are often sold in rural Chinese areas as brides of local villagers, or forced to provide sex services in underground prostitution dens in China's coastal or border areas such as Yunnan and Guangdong provinces, or Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, he said.
Chen said the trafficking is often a collaboration between criminals in and outside China.
The criminals usually look for women from rural areas in their 20s and 30s. They then use the suggestion of high-salaried jobs as bait. Some criminals even set up illegal cross-border marriage brokerages and tell the women they can become brides of rich Chinese men in big cities.
After the women agree, the traffickers arrange for them to illegally bypass border checkpoints by taking them along small roads in the forest or mountain areas, or illegally entering China by river, Jin Yulu, a senior border police officer from Ruili checkpoint in Dehong Dai and Jingpo autonomous prefecture of Yunnan, told China Daily.
Upon arriving in China, the traffickers will hand over these women to their collaborators in China.
The price of one woman ranges from 20,000 to 50,000 yuan ($3,100 to 7,800) based on their figure, appearance and nationality, Jin said.
In one case, a 22-year-old woman from Myanmar was sold for 30,000 yuan in Jiangdu, Jiangsu province and became the bride of a 28-year-old local villager.
After being rescued about half a year later, the girl told police through a translator that she could not speak Chinese and had no way to resist. She said during the marriage her husband often sexually abused and beat her. Finally, she managed to get help from neighbors, who helped report the case to the police.
She was sent back to Myanmar through the Ruili frontier border station in Dehong in July, but the trafficker is still at large.
To cope with the rising cross-border trafficking of women, Chinese police launched a special crackdown in the border area from July to September, Chen said.
During the action, Guangxi police cracked 30 cases involving kidnapped Vietnamese women, smashed 11 criminal gangs and arrested 53 suspects. Meanwhile, police rescued 52 Vietnamese women, official figures show. In Yunnan, police uncovered 21 cases of trafficking of Vietnamese women, arrested 17 suspects and rescued 22 Vietnamese victims.
The rescued women were placed in Chinese rescue shelters before being sent back to their home countries, he said.
"We pay close attention to protecting the legitimate rights of the rescued female victims, and will do well in settlement and repatriation," he said.
Chen said Chinese police will carry out regular actions to combat trafficking of foreign women, and pay more attention to key areas such as bus stations, docks and small roads in the fields or mountains where traffickers easily pass.
More cooperation between Chinese police and their counterparts in Southeast Asian countries is also necessary, he said.
China has signed the Mekong River Sub-regional Cooperation Anti-trafficking Memo with Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, and established an annual meeting of senior officials to help curb international trafficking.
Beijing has also set up eight border offices with neighboring countries, such as Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos to fight against trafficking, Chen said.
"But more efforts are required to share intelligence, cooperate on investigations, as well as transfer suspects and repatriate victims," he said.