Crackdown on human traffickers reveals ‘Vietnamese bride’ trade

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/19 13:46:43

A young girl is spotted by local police officers at a railway station in Kunming, the capital city of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, which borders Vietnam. When they question the girl and the Chinese man accompanying her, he explains that she is unable to answer in Chinese, even though she carries a Chinese identification card. 

On closer inspection, her ID card turns out to be fake, and the man is found to be a human trafficker looking to sell her to a "Chinese husband" for tens of thousands of yuan.

Dozens of girls like this have been spotted by Chinese policemen in recent years, and all are from Vietnam, the Beijing News reported after the local police declared a crackdown on an international human trafficking group on January 29.

In this case, 33 Vietnamese girls have been rescued by the Chinese police, and 78 suspects involved in the trafficking business were arrested. Chinese police then handed over the Vietnamese girls back to Vietnamese authorities. 

The massive transnational organization includes both Chinese and foreign nationals, engaged in a human trafficking ring across several provinces in southwestern China. The case is being handled by the Ministry of Public Security of China, which has held a special meeting to boost cooperation between police bureaus from different provinces. 

The Vietnamese girls are mostly under 18, with the youngest about 13 to 14, and the oldest 20. They are abducted by Vietnamese traffickers and brought to China under the guise of travel or work, and are then sold to potential buyers in different parts of China to become "Vietnamese brides", police told the Beijing News.

Rural demand

The trading business of "Vietnamese brides" has been taking place since the 1990s in the border region, said a police officer from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region who requested anonymity. Guangxi also borders Vietnam.

"The main reason is probably China's fast economic development, which gives the traffickers a chance to lure the victims from Vietnam. According to most of the cases that we have solved, the reasons used most by human traffickers are travel and work, and many Vietnamese who lack education and live in extreme poverty become ideal targets for the criminal traffickers," the anonymous police officer told the Global Times. 

Chinese "husbands" are mostly from rural areas. According to, the official news portal of Nantong, a city in East China's Jiangsu Province, a Vietnamese bride was spotted in Hai'an county on December 21, 2017. A local male resident spent 40,000 yuan ($6,350) to buy her from her traffickers. 

The 20-year-old Vienamese girl had been brought to China illegally by her Vietnamese friends and was sold to the local resident to become his "wife". Locals discovered her in the street acting strangely after she escaped from the man's home, and also found her using a language that they could not understand. After they called the police, she was found to be carrying a Vietnamese ID card.

A similar case occurred in Yunnan in January. Police found that a suspect from East China's Zhejiang Province was constantly traveling to the border area between Vietnam and China, and always brought five to six girls back with him to Zhejiang's rural areas. The girls could not speak Chinese and traveled with fake documents.

Zheng Junyi, a senior police officer responsible for solving the case, told the Beijing News that the buyers were from different parts of China and were mostly rural residents without education. 

Due to the inability to speak Chinese and lack of familiarity with China, the Vietnamese girls had no choice but follow the instructions of the human traffickers, Zheng said.

Bad deal

"Some less educated people in rural areas who are under pressure to get married will be motivated to buy Vietnamese brides, and normally the prices are not very high, from 20,000 to 80,000 yuan, which is affordable for Chinese rural residents. In rural areas in provinces like Guangxi and Yunnan, the price could be even lower," the anonymous police officer from Guangxi said.

However, the girls don't get paid anything, Zheng told the Beijing News. "For instance, if a Vietnamese bride's price is 60,000 yuan, the agent in the buyer's province will take 10,000 to 20,000 yuan, and the Vietnamese human traffickers who brought the girl to China, or the person responsible for trafficking her will take the main share."

"Many 'Vietnamese brides' will try to escape after 'the marriage'. Some just disappear and some are spotted by the local people and sent to policemen, so this is not a good deal for the buyers at all," a businessmen surnamed Wei from Guangxi with experience in border trade told the Global Times.

Newspaper headline: Brides for Sale

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