Advertisements offering babies for sale appeared this week on a Chinese website owned by Internet auction power eBay, a company official said on Thursday.
The ads were posted on the EachNet site on Sunday, promising babies under 100 days old from the impoverished central province of Henan at prices of 28,000 yuan for boys and 13,000 yuan for girls.
"The posting said it was meant to bring blessings to all families unable to have children across the country," Tang Lei, from Shanghai-based EachNet's public relations department, told Reuters.
The website, China's largest online auction platform, removed the posting immediately after hearing about it, by which point more than 40 people had browsed the advertisement without making any purchases, Tang said.
The sale of children and women is a nationwide problem in China, where stringent rules on family planning allow couples to just have one child, at least in cities.
The restrictions have bolstered a traditional bias for male offspring, seen as the mainstay for elderly parents, and have resulted in abortions or killings of baby girls.
Child trafficking is a capital offence in China where at least four people have been executed for kidnapping and related offences this year.
Tang said his company, which was bought out by U.S.-based online auctioneer eBay Inc. for $180 million, was working with Shanghai police to investigate the posting.
The word "baby" was not caught in EachNet's automatic screens for illegal content because of the large number of baby products pitched on the site, he said.
As a result of the incident, Tang told Reuters, the website was planning to screen every posting.
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