Cablegate: Baby Buying: Selling Infants to China Sparks Outrage; Some

DE RUEHHI #0226/01 0571034
O 261034Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Baby Buying: Selling Infants to China Sparks Outrage; Some
Tactics Similar to Those Uncovered in American Adoptions

Ref: Hanoi 1299, 1465, 1820, 1834, 1843, 1856, 1893, 1912, 1928,
1977, 1979, 2082, 2109 and 2118

HANOI 00000226 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) Summary: Over the past week, major Vietnamese media outlets
have highlighted the case of four individuals arrested for smuggling
newborn infants to China, among other abuses related to trafficking
in children. One was an investigative report on a local
baby-selling ring in Ha Tay province, on Hanoi's western border,
citing the collusion of orphanage officials, local officials,
medical staff, and possibly high-level officials of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. These articles, and others before them, generate
popular anger at criminals who traffic in infants, and also feed a
general dissatisfaction with China. Given that criminal acts
documented in these stories parallel those used by individuals
involved in acquiring infants for adoption to the United States, it
is possible that revelations in future articles could involve
infants sought by American prospective parents. End summary.

2. (SBU) Vietnamese culture is strongly family-based. "Do you have a
family yet?" is a standard get-to-know-you question. Parents are
expected to live for their children, and for a married couple to be
childless remains for many an assault on a long-standing social
structure. National propaganda highlights the importance of family.
Public buildings are decorated with images of a saintly Ho Chi Minh
surrounded by children in his role as "Uncle Ho," and red banners
over Hanoi streets encourage pregnant mothers to monitor their
intake of vitamins. Recently, stories of child abuse sparked much
debate and anguish - another demonstration of the devotion to
children generally evidenced by the Vietnamese.

3. (SBU) On February 20, both Thanh Nien and Phap Luat newspapers
ran articles providing detailed information on how impoverished
Vietnamese women are pressured or tricked to give up their infant
children so that the children can be sold to adoptive parents. The
newspapers also announced the arrest of four infant traffickers by
Hanoi police. The stories came on the tail of reports highlighting
horrific conditions in orphanages, and in particular news that over
half of the 19 infants who had been sent from nearby orphanages to a
Hanoi hospital to be treated for pneumonia had died. These stories
have caused public outrage.

4. (SBU) The wife of an orphanage director (herself an employee of
the orphanage) was named as the leader of an infant trafficking ring
in Ha Tay province, to the west of Hanoi. The ring allegedly
colluded with local officials and medical staff to operate a
baby-selling network, purchasing infant girls for a price of
approximately 500 USD and infant boys for approximately 625 USD and
later reselling the infants for more than double the price, between
1250 USD and 1525 USD. Some infants were resold abroad, usually to
China. According to the ringleader, "We don't earn that much by
just focusing on the domestic couples." Some children were taken
from their mothers without any payment. The locality where the ring
operates has been the site of several child kidnappings. In recent
months, Vietnamese papers have also reported cases of infant
kidnappings in ethnic minority villages along the Chinese border and
the arrest of kidnappers who intended to sell the infants to Chinese
parents for adoption.

5. (SBU) Abuses like those described in these reports are consistent
with the results of consular investigations conducted by Mission
Vietnam, which have found that orphanage staff, local officials,
police, and medical staff are often intricately involved in
producing fraudulent documents in an effort to stock orphanages with
children for international adoption. In one Ho Chi Minh City case,
documents listed an infant as deserted at the hospital by its birth
mother. Our investigation uncovered the birth mother's name and
address. A follow-up interview revealed that she had not intended
to relinquish the child; the child had been placed in an orphanage
when she failed to pay the hospital bill. The child has been
returned to its biological family. On February 20, consular staff
spoke with a family living near the Chinese border which had placed
their four-year-old child in a nearby orphanage in exchange for
money to buy a pig; orphanage officials, who provided the payment,
told the illiterate biological parents that their child would visit
them "every few months." Without their knowledge and against their
wishes, that child has been referred to an American family for

6. (SBU) Comment: The recent slew of press articles has had a
decidedly anti-China perspective, feeding a historical distrust and
animosity toward Vietnam's powerful northern neighbor. Watching a
February 19 Vietnam television report while inside a crowded market
along the Chinese border, a Hanoi consular officer heard the angry
reactions of viewers as the reporter noted that after selling her
still unborn child to the Chinese, traffickers planned to sell the
birth mother, as well. This, in combination with the Vietnamese
value on family and children, causes widespread public anger.

7. (SBU) Comment (continued): There is overwhelming evidence that

HANOI 00000226 002.2 OF 002

the high prices paid by American adopting parents make the United
States the most lucrative of all markets for baby traffickers. Post
is concerned that the articles may also be a veiled warning to other
countries. The spotlight could quickly shift to focus on the worst
American adoption cases, with Americans replacing the Chinese as
baby buyers. Given the high profile and sensitive nature of this
issue, such an event has the potential to have a negative effect on
broader foreign policy goals.


© Scoop Media

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