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Father sells his one-year-old daughter for £6,800 on the internet to pay for his gambling debts

A man in south-west China has been arrested for selling his toddler daughter online for £6,800 in order to pay off his gambling debts.

The man, identified by his surname Jiang, sold the child to a couple after racking up a debt of more than 60,000 yuan (£6,798) by gambling online, according to Chinese reports.

The unemployed man in Guiyang, Guizhou province took his one-year-old daughter away from home and told his wife that the girl would be staying with her grandmother.

Last November, Jiang told his wife that they would be staying with his mother in Zunyi city, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) away from their home.

The mother, sunamed Wang, grew suspicious after she hadn’t heard from her daughter for nearly three months, according to Guiyang Evening News.

Every time she asked her husband about their daughter’s whereabouts, he would give her different excuses to delay her return.

One day in February, the concerned mother was checking her husband’s phone at home when she discovered a screenshot of a conversation between him and her daughter’s buyers, revealing the shocking discovery.

On the same day, she met with her mother-in-law, who told her that the child had been taken away from her weeks ago.

The horrified mother immediately reported the incident to police in Qianling district after her husband was nowhere to be found.

Following investigations, police eventually discovered Jiang at a hotel in Guiyang late February.

He admitted to owing the large sum of gambling debts and opted for the extreme measure after seeing an online post about child adoption.

Jiang lied and told the buyers, a couple in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, that he could no longer afford to raise the child because he had been separated from his wife and both his parents were dead.

He then took the child away from his mother on November 5 and flew to Zhoushan, more than 1,850 kilometres (1,150 miles) away from their home.

The child was located by police last Friday and brought home to her mother in Guiyang.

The father has been arrested and detained on suspicion of human trafficking amid ongoing investigations, the report quoted police as saying.

Child abduction and trafficking has long been a serious social problem in China, with an estimated 70,000 children going missing each year for forced labour, adoption or prostitution, according to a previous report by China Daily.

Chinese courts ruled on 2,806 cases involving the abduction and trafficking of women and children between 2015 and 2018, according to the Supreme People’s Court cited by Global Times.

Just last week, a couple in Wuzhou, Guangxi have been arrested for selling all five of their children – three boys and two girls – for a profit of more than 100,000 yuan (£11,300).

In January, a boy in Jinjiang, Fujian province was reunited with his grandparents after his parents sold him to another couple for 120,000 yuan (£13,600) last year. The unmarried couple in split the money before going their separate ways.

Zhang Baoyan, a delegate to the 13th National People’s Congress, last week called for an amendment to the Chinese law to impose the death penalty on those convicted of trafficking women and children.

Zhang, who has been a long-time advocate for women’s and children’s rights in the country, also called for a stiffer punishment for buyers, who fuel the trade but are seldom held accountable. Currently, convicted buyers of human trafficking victims face no more than three years in prison.

Why is child abduction a serious problem in China?

Child abduction is a serious problem in China, especially in rural areas.

One major cause is that the Chinese families prefer sons to daughters, resulting in them buying baby boys.

In addition, the severe gender gap – a result of three decades of one-child policy – has made it hard for Chinese men to find wives. As a result, teenager girls are sometimes kidnapped and sold as child brides.

Child abduction remains a sensitive topic to the Chinese authorities. No official figures have been released on how many children are kidnapped in China every year.

However according to a 2016 report on Chinese news site Caijing, around 200,000 boys and girls are reported to be missing every year. Among them, only 200, or 0.1 per cent, would be able to find their parents at some point of their lives.

The report also claimed that there are more than one million child beggars in China and most of them were abducted by human traffickers or forced to beg by their families.

Baobeihuijia, a website specialised in connecting families with their missing members, has conducted a survey on the kidnapped children in China based on 8,861 cases listed on their website.

The survey shows that around 64 per cent of the kidnapped children are boys and more than 75 per cent of the kidnapped children are under the age of six.

However, among those who are abducted over the age of 13, there are more girls than boys.

The survey also claims that children under the age of four are most likely to be abducted in China.