How Rural China Forms an Accomplice Network to Control Trafficked Females

Commentary Many analyses blame the Chinese human trafficking industry for the misery of a Xuzhou mother of eight. The stereotype of rural Chinese as simple and hard working people ignores the fact that the abducted females sold for marriage are faced with the oppression of the buyers, and even more so the oppression of the villagers, who are a small community of accomplices who keep the woman in bondage. Villagers, don’t believe what they’re doing is a crime. Females Sold for Marriage Can’t Escape There are two Chinese films giving a rough idea of how rural communities have evolved and become a serious taboo of the Communist regime. “Blind Mountain,” was a cinema release in 2007, and state media, CCTV’s propaganda program on law, “A College Girl Abducted for Marriage” aired in 2018. The CCTV program imitated lines and plots from the Blind Mountain film, and added two fictional characters, relatives of the buyer: a cousin Hai, and another cousin working as a police officer. The sympathetic Hai tried to help the girl escape, but failed; and the police officer did the righteous thing and punished the buyer. “Blind Mountain “was based on a real person named Zheng Xiuli. I saw the movie and researched the actual hardships Zheng experienced. After reading many similar cases, I have a certain understanding of how local communities form an accomplice network when a female is bought for marriage. The enabling is done by local villagers who prevent the wives from running away. The CCTV program deliberately omitted this very important fact, but portrayed the abducted women as isolated cases or a crime committed by a few poor farmers. The program gave an image of a communist rural life filled with fine farmhouses, clean and tidy farmyards, and many nice cars. “Blind Mountain” has all the elements of an abducted woman’s tragedy, whose situation was better than that of the Xuzhou mother of eight who was mainly raped and abused by the husband, and became a sex slave of many men in the village. Zheng Xiuli, a young woman from Northeast China, had a life far more devastating than the film showed. Zheng Xiuli, a college graduate, went south to work in Zhuhai in 1994. The trafficker, posing as a job broker, abducted her to Huaping Village, nearly 200 miles away, and sold her for 3,000 yuan ($431.88) to a 49-year-old villager named Guo. Zheng tried to escape the night she arrived at Guo’s house, but the entire village was mobilized to catch her, and so she was beaten badly by Guo’s family. That night, with the help of Guo’s brother and sister-in-law, Guo raped Zheng Xiuli. Zheng tried to escape many times, until she realized that everyone around her was an accomplice in her captivity. In the following two years, Zheng Xiuli gave birth to two children. Finally, the desperate and badly abused Zheng splashed sulfuric acid on both of Guo’s brother’s children, and injured five other students. Zheng Xiuli was not waiting to be rescued, but to be arrested by the police. In the end, she was sentenced to death for the crime of intentional injury, which was deferred. Some said that screenwriter Li Yang hoped to draw attention to the tragedy of abducted women with the movie. A woman reunites with her newborn baby who was sold by the doctor who delivered him at a hospital in Fuping County, central China’s Shanxi province on Aug. 5, 2013. Other such cases have been reported across China in recent years. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) Why Villagers Become Accomplices The incidents of Zheng Xiuli and the Xuzhou mother of eight reflect issues that are far beyond the scope of buying and selling women. One wonders why they could not escape. I recall the reports I read when I was in China that gave details of an abduction. The local police raided a village in the middle of the night. Otherwise, they would be surrounded by villagers and the mission would fail. The police were there to carry out a rescue, not to cause a mass event. So let’s look at why villagers would unite in fending off a police action. In remote rural China, it is not easy for men to get married. Generally speaking, women are reluctant to marry men in poor areas, and many farmers will exchange their own daughters for daughters-in-law. Those who have no daughters have to pay thousands of yuan, and even tens of thousands, for a marriage. This amount will drain the family’s entire resources. Thus, the brides the farmers buy are considered property that ought to be secured by the entire family—the buyers. Today’s Chinese villages have become a community of shared interest, whether they are single-surname villages or mixed-surname villages. Poor villages are filled with bachelors, who resort to traffickers to get a wife. To protect the property they paid for, villagers follow an unwritten rule to form a system of containment. For instance, they will notify the buyer if they learn of the abducted woman’s intention to escape; when police arrive, they  hide the abducte

How Rural China Forms an Accomplice Network to Control Trafficked Females

Commentary

Many analyses blame the Chinese human trafficking industry for the misery of a Xuzhou mother of eight. The stereotype of rural Chinese as simple and hard working people ignores the fact that the abducted females sold for marriage are faced with the oppression of the buyers, and even more so the oppression of the villagers, who are a small community of accomplices who keep the woman in bondage. Villagers, don’t believe what they’re doing is a crime.

Females Sold for Marriage Can’t Escape

There are two Chinese films giving a rough idea of how rural communities have evolved and become a serious taboo of the Communist regime.

“Blind Mountain,” was a cinema release in 2007, and state media, CCTV’s propaganda program on law, “A College Girl Abducted for Marriage” aired in 2018.

The CCTV program imitated lines and plots from the Blind Mountain film, and added two fictional characters, relatives of the buyer: a cousin Hai, and another cousin working as a police officer. The sympathetic Hai tried to help the girl escape, but failed; and the police officer did the righteous thing and punished the buyer.

“Blind Mountain “was based on a real person named Zheng Xiuli.

I saw the movie and researched the actual hardships Zheng experienced. After reading many similar cases, I have a certain understanding of how local communities form an accomplice network when a female is bought for marriage.

The enabling is done by local villagers who prevent the wives from running away. The CCTV program deliberately omitted this very important fact, but portrayed the abducted women as isolated cases or a crime committed by a few poor farmers. The program gave an image of a communist rural life filled with fine farmhouses, clean and tidy farmyards, and many nice cars.

“Blind Mountain” has all the elements of an abducted woman’s tragedy, whose situation was better than that of the Xuzhou mother of eight who was mainly raped and abused by the husband, and became a sex slave of many men in the village.

Zheng Xiuli, a young woman from Northeast China, had a life far more devastating than the film showed.

Zheng Xiuli, a college graduate, went south to work in Zhuhai in 1994. The trafficker, posing as a job broker, abducted her to Huaping Village, nearly 200 miles away, and sold her for 3,000 yuan ($431.88) to a 49-year-old villager named Guo.

Zheng tried to escape the night she arrived at Guo’s house, but the entire village was mobilized to catch her, and so she was beaten badly by Guo’s family. That night, with the help of Guo’s brother and sister-in-law, Guo raped Zheng Xiuli.

Zheng tried to escape many times, until she realized that everyone around her was an accomplice in her captivity. In the following two years, Zheng Xiuli gave birth to two children.

Finally, the desperate and badly abused Zheng splashed sulfuric acid on both of Guo’s brother’s children, and injured five other students.

Zheng Xiuli was not waiting to be rescued, but to be arrested by the police.

In the end, she was sentenced to death for the crime of intentional injury, which was deferred.

Some said that screenwriter Li Yang hoped to draw attention to the tragedy of abducted women with the movie.

Epoch Times Photo
A woman reunites with her newborn baby who was sold by the doctor who delivered him at a hospital in Fuping County, central China’s Shanxi province on Aug. 5, 2013. Other such cases have been reported across China in recent years. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Why Villagers Become Accomplices

The incidents of Zheng Xiuli and the Xuzhou mother of eight reflect issues that are far beyond the scope of buying and selling women. One wonders why they could not escape.

I recall the reports I read when I was in China that gave details of an abduction. The local police raided a village in the middle of the night. Otherwise, they would be surrounded by villagers and the mission would fail. The police were there to carry out a rescue, not to cause a mass event.

So let’s look at why villagers would unite in fending off a police action.

In remote rural China, it is not easy for men to get married. Generally speaking, women are reluctant to marry men in poor areas, and many farmers will exchange their own daughters for daughters-in-law. Those who have no daughters have to pay thousands of yuan, and even tens of thousands, for a marriage. This amount will drain the family’s entire resources. Thus, the brides the farmers buy are considered property that ought to be secured by the entire family—the buyers.

Today’s Chinese villages have become a community of shared interest, whether they are single-surname villages or mixed-surname villages. Poor villages are filled with bachelors, who resort to traffickers to get a wife. To protect the property they paid for, villagers follow an unwritten rule to form a system of containment. For instance, they will notify the buyer if they learn of the abducted woman’s intention to escape; when police arrive, they  hide the abducted woman; and when necessary, they intervene in police rescue efforts.

Don’t expect the party secretary of the village to stand up for justice. As a villager himself, the local party secretary is bound to guard his villagers’ interests.

There’s also a 2006 film, “The Story of An Abducted Woman,” based on Gao Yanmin, a woman abducted and sold to  a man in Xia’an Village, Hebei Province. The villagers were hostile to reporters who tried to interview Gao Yanmin after her story was made public. They blamed Gao for exposing the villagers’ buying wives and ruining their reputation. The village party secretary asked a reporter who went for an interview: “There are still more than 60 bachelors in the village, how can you help them?”

In the absence of intervention, the sex ratio at birth generally ranges between 103 and 107 male births per 100 female births, according to UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund). The preference for sons in rural China is very serious, which has created an extraordinary gender imbalance. In 2004, China recorded 121 boys born for every 100 girls; in 2019, it still remained at a ratio of 112 boys for every 100 girls. Chinese men are estimated to outnumber women by about 30 million for 30 years, according to a Party mouthpiece.

Rural China, harboring the majority of single men, has a huge demand for wife buying. This is the social background of China’s serious abduction and trafficking of women. Coupled with the regime’s general disregard for human rights, women’s rights are easily violated, and the buying of abducted women will only continue in rural China. Trafficking in females is exacerbated because the authorities ignore the issue.

Materialized Rural Development Under the Regime’s Ruling

More than 20 years ago, I concluded that Chinese society has morally collapsed in my book “China’s Trap.” Rural China became the epicenter of the phenomenon of moral collapse, filled with small communities of human trafficking criminals. This moral collapse is the result of the CCP’s land reforms after it came to power. Through a series of movements in land reform, the CCP completely destroyed the clan system dominating village autonomy, an ancient system prior to 1949; killed all local intellectuals and noblemen that governed the system; and instated communes run by bandits and gangsters.

Epoch Times Photo
A man reads the Chinese Communist Party’s Land Reform Law to peasants in 1950. The aim was to incite class hatred against landlords and use the supposedly disenfranchised to carry out a violent revolution. The campaign resulted in the mass killing of landlords, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. (Public Domain)

Rural reform under the CCP has focused on material infrastructure, and has nothing to do with civilization or humanity. In the 2005 meeting of its rubber-stamp legislature, the regime proposed to build a socialist countryside that fosters production, development, management, construction, mechanization, and agricultural standardization. In 2021 when Xi Jinping emphasized building a new socialist countryside “that is more beautiful and has better living conditions,” it was still focusing on material aspects.

After exposure of the Xuzhou mother of eight, the local government responded to the outraged public with a notice saying that this so-called “family” has received aid and medical insurance since May 2014, subsidies in reconstruction of housing from the government in 2021, and many charitable donations from society. However, there’s no mention of the woman constrained by a dog-chain on her neck, who was gang raped by the three men in the buyer’s family.

This is the new socialist countryside the regime has built. Women’s rights have been abused in a morally collapsed Chinese society.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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He Qinglian is a prominent Chinese author and economist. Currently based in the United States, she authored “China’s Pitfalls,” which concerns corruption in China’s economic reform of the 1990s, and “The Fog of Censorship: Media Control in China,” which addresses the manipulation and restriction of the press. She regularly writes on contemporary Chinese social and economic issues.