Chinese police broke up child-trafficking rings in 15 provinces and arrested more than 800 people after babies were auctioned off to the highest bidder for up to 50,000 yuan ($7,800).
Footage aired on Chinese television on Friday showed a police officer involved in the raids wresting a child away from a woman who had allegedly bought it. Suspects and other rescued children were also shown being taken away by police.
The July 2 raids involved 10,000 police and resulted in 181 children being freed and 802 arrests, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement on its website Thursday. China's one-child policy and a tradition of favoring boys have been cited as contributing to the nation's trafficking problems.
A doctor at a clinic in Hebei province organized a trade in which pregnant women sold their children for up to 50,000 yuan depending on the baby's gender and health, and its parents' appearance, the Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
A suspect who had allegedly helped in the trafficking of more than 100 children was also arrested, the ministry said in the statement. It said police first became aware of one child- trafficking ring in Henan province when four suspects were found on a bus traveling with babies they intended to sell.
China started a campaign in 2009 to combat trafficking, freeing 18,000 children and 34,000 women in that time. The US State Department's 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report said that while China has increased attention to trafficking of women and children, "the government did not demonstrate evidence of significant efforts to address all forms of trafficking or effectively protect victims."
Some families from rural farming communities sell their female babies for cash because boys are considered more valuable at home.