A man in China has allegedly sold his newborn son for £18,000 to a stranger he met online after losing his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to reports.

The migrant worker father, who already had two sons, is said to have faced ‘immense’ financial pressure because of the job loss.

He allegedly persuaded his pregnant wife to agree to the illegal deal before trading his 40-day-old baby to a woman who was described to be desperate for a child.

A video released by Chinese news site Anhui Net shows the accused baby buyer, Ms Xu, being questioned by police officers in Hefei, eastern China, after acting suspiciously on a train
A video released by Chinese news site Anhui Net shows the accused baby buyer, Ms Xu, being questioned by police officers in Hefei, eastern China, after acting suspiciously on a train
<p class="has-drop-cap has-vivid-red-color has-text-color" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">The case was revealed on Monday by Chinese news site <a href="http://www.ahwang.cn/newsflash/20201109/2179212.html">Anhui Net</a>, which cited the local railway police. The case was revealed on Monday by Chinese news site Anhui Net, which cited the local railway police. 

According to the report, the unlawful transaction came to light after the accused buyer, known by her surname Xu, caught the police’s attention when she was riding a train with the baby on October 30.

Ms Xu was said to be travelling from Jiang’an County in south-western China’s Sichuan Province – where the baby’s biological parents live – to her home in Huoshan County in eastern China’s Anhui Province.

She was asked to get off the train in the city of Hefei for questioning after police officers found her behaviour suspicious.

Ms Xu initially told police that she had adopted the baby. But after further interrogation, she admitted that she had paid the so-called ‘nutrition fees’ in exchange for the boy.

The Hefei Railway Police immediately launched an inquiry and interrogated the baby’s biological parents on November 3.

The boy's father has been detained on suspicion of human-trafficking after allegedly selling his 40-day-old baby (not the one pictured, file photo) to a strange woman through the internet
The boy’s father has been detained on suspicion of human-trafficking after allegedly selling his 40-day-old baby (not the one pictured, file photo) to a strange woman through the internet

Upon investigation, the police found out that the baby’s father, Mr Liu, and mother, Ms Zhang, were migrant workers.

The couple already had two sons, aged seven and two, when Ms Zhang allegedly fell pregnant unexpectedly at the beginning of this year and had to stop working.

The police said that Mr Liu was unable to find work due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and found it difficult to keep paying his mortgage and affording his car.

The father-to-be allegedly wanted to reduce the family’s financial burden by selling his child.

After convincing his pregnant wife that the move was a good idea, Mr Liu approached his first potential customer, a woman of three girls who wanted to have a son.

The buyer-to-be, Ms Wu, agreed to pay Mr Liu 100,000 yuan (£11,410) after an ultrasound scan confirmed that Mr Liu’s wife was carrying a boy. She even arranged Ms Zhang to give birth. 

The deal fell through when Ms Wu failed to register the identity of the baby with the police because he was not her biological child.

The suspected baby buyer was questioned after police officers found her acting suspiciously on a train passing Hefei. Pictured, passengers walk out of Hefei Railway Station on October 8
The suspected baby buyer was questioned after police officers found her acting suspiciously on a train passing Hefei. Pictured, passengers walk out of Hefei Railway Station on October 8

Mr Liu then contacted the second interested client, 43-year-old Ms Xu, who also yearned for a baby but was not able to have one.

The police said that Ms Xu was so keen to take Mr Liu’s son home that she remortgaged her house to obtain enough cash as soon as she got to know him through the internet.

She then travelled more than 1,412 kilometres (877 miles) to Mr Liu’s hometown to meet the family, to whom she gave 163,000 yuan (£18,600), a gold necklace and a gold bracelet in return for the newborn.

Mr Liu, his wife Ms Zhang and the suspected buyer Ms Xu are currently under police detention on suspicion of child trafficking. The case is under further investigation.

Under the Chinese law, anyone who is found guilty of trafficking and selling children can be jailed for five to 10 years, but life sentences or death penalties can also be issued.