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18 Jun, 2007 03:20

Another forced labour case revealed in China

Police in northern China have rescued 217 people, including 29 children, who had been forced to work as slaves. The world's most populous country sees frequent reports of human trading, and child labour is thought to be common in the poorest and most remo

Since the first case was revealed in early June, newspapers and television broadcasts have been filled with images of wounded, emaciated and traumatised slaves. 

Children kidnapped from Henan province, shipped to nearby factories by human traffickers and forced to work in brick kilns. Lured away with promises of high-paying jobs but never paid wages, some of the children recovered in raids are as young as eight years old.

The latest scandal might not have come to light, had a group of 400 men with missing sons not sent out a collective cry for help on the Internet. So, government officials and police accused of turning a blind eye to slavery rings were forced to take action.

Not a new reality in China, this is a problem regularly topping tables when it comes to international reports on human trafficking and the slave trade. Ongoing labour shortages in the northern provinces is thought to be a major factor behind the use of forced labour and underage workers at mines and brickworks in the area. 

Despite this crackdown, hundreds more parents have yet to reunite with their children.

The scandal adds to other embarrassing revelations about the plight of Chinese workers, including reports that children were being used to make merchandise for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.