A man has reportedly been detained in eastern China after allegedly trafficking women from Vietnam for marriage.
Chinese man detained for trafficking Vietnamese women for marriage
The man, surnamed Hu, was spotted by police on a train last Thursday as he travelled with six Vietnamese women from Guangxi, a province in southwest China that borders Vietnam, to his hometown in the eastern province of Jiangxi, according to the Nanchang Evening News.
Unable to find wives at home, Chinese bachelors from poor, rural areas of the country are increasingly looking to purchase women from Southeast Asia for marriage. More than a decade ago, they would have been trafficking women from poorer provinces in China itself.
One woman, identified as “Tao”, had agreed to marry Hu after he paid $22,000, the newspaper reported. The rest of the group included a marriage broker, two other potential “brides” intended for Hu’s friends, and two of their family members.
“They wanted to check the condition of my friends’ families before deciding the price,” Hu was quoted as saying.
The six women have also been detained while Chinese authorities investigate the case, according to the report.
The marriage trade, usually involving women from Southeast Asia, is becoming prevalent in parts of rural China, where it is increasingly difficult for men to find a local match. Decades of sex-selective abortions have caused a severe gender imbalance in the country, with men outnumbering women by 33 million in the end of 2017.
But the problem for men from remote, rural areas is compounded by money: specifically, their lack of it.
In the countryside, where more traditional mindsets proliferate, marriage can effectively be considered as a financial transaction whose purpose is to ensure the continuation of the (male) family line.
It is common in China for potential wives to demand “bride prices:” cash or pricey engagement gifts from the families of the grooms.
Grooms in poor areas unable to afford these gifts are turning to marriage brokers to bring women from Southeast Asia.
These women, or their families, also want to be paid. But often the bride price is much cheaper. On the Twitter-like platform Weibo, more than a dozen users are advertising services matching Chinese men with women from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Indonesia.
“If you have been single for too long, find a Vietnamese wife,” a user with the name “Qianqian Vietnamese brides” posted in April last year.
“Invest 80,000 yuan [$12,600], no house or car required, as long as you find a 3,000 yuan [$473] per month job for her,” it said. “she can sleep with you for life, and give birth to sons and daughters.”
The user did not respond to requests for comment.
While some women seem to be happy with their matches, many others have been either forced into marriage by their families or abducted outright. Some of them later disappear or flee.
In 2014, over 100 Vietnamese women were reported to have vanished from villages in in Hebei province, near Beijing. More than 10 Vietnamese women in Nanan city, Fujian province disappeared together in 2016, months after they married local men.
The US State Department listed China as one of the worst human trafficking offenders in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report last year, citing Beijing’s failure to protect foreign women and children from forced marriage or labor in China.
The Chinese government has said it is working with neighboring countries to crack down on human trafficking.