In China, advocates for missing children claim that there is an epidemic of young boys being kidnapped, fueled at least in part by the government’s family planning policies:
The demand is especially strong in rural areas of south China, where a tradition of favoring boys over girls and the country’s strict family planning policies have turned the sale of stolen children into a thriving business.
Su Qingcai, a tea farmer from the mountainous coast of Fujian Province, explained why he spent $3,500 last year on a 5-year-old boy. “A girl is just not as good as a son,” said Mr. Su, 38, who has a 14-year-old daughter but whose biological son died at 3 months. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you don’t have a son, you are not as good as other people who have one.”The centuries-old tradition of cherishing boys — and a custom that dictates that a married woman moves in with her husband’s family — is reinforced by a modern reality: Without a real social safety net in China, many parents fear they will be left to fend for themselves in old age.