Girl, 12, is caught smuggling 142 blood samples of pregnant women out of China ‘for gender tests’

A 12-year-old girl has been caught trying to smuggle 142 blood samples of pregnant women out of mainland China for tests to help mothers determine the sex of their child.

In mainland China, it is illegal for doctors to tell mothers the gender of their unborn baby to prevent sex-selective abortions as Chinese culture traditionally favours boys.

The girl, who was not named, was caught on February 23 with the samples in her schoolbag at the Luohu Port in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, authorities said in a statement today. 

The girl, who was not named, was caught on February 23 with the samples in her schoolbag at the Luohu Port in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, authorities said in a statement today

The girl, who was not named, was caught on February 23 with the samples in her schoolbag at the Luohu Port in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, authorities said in a statement today

The girl, who was not named, was caught on February 23 with the samples in her schoolbag at the Luohu Port in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, authorities said in a statement today

Customs officers asked the girl to put her schoolbag through the x-ray machine, which revealed six packs of 142 blood sample tubes wrapped in tape

Customs officers asked the girl to put her schoolbag through the x-ray machine, which revealed six packs of 142 blood sample tubes wrapped in tape

Customs officers asked the girl to put her schoolbag through the x-ray machine, which revealed six packs of 142 blood sample tubes wrapped in tape

Customs officers became suspicious after noticing girl travelling alone and carrying a ‘very full’ backpack, according to Shenzhen Evening News.  

‘The girl’s backpack was so full, it looked like it was going to burst open,’ a customs official told video news site Pear.

Surveillance footage shows officers instructing the girl to put her schoolbag through the x-ray machine, which revealed six packs of blood sample tubes wrapped in tape. Application forms with the details of the samples’ owner were also found.  

Surveillance footage shows customs officers searching the girl's backpack. Officers became suspicious after noticing girl travelling alone and carrying a 'very full' schoolbag

Surveillance footage shows customs officers searching the girl's backpack. Officers became suspicious after noticing girl travelling alone and carrying a 'very full' schoolbag

Surveillance footage shows customs officers searching the girl’s backpack. Officers became suspicious after noticing girl travelling alone and carrying a ‘very full’ schoolbag

Six packs of blood sample tubes wrapped in tape were uncovered in during the inspection

Six packs of blood sample tubes wrapped in tape were uncovered in during the inspection

Six packs of blood sample tubes wrapped in tape were uncovered in during the inspection

The girl admitted that she was asked to smuggle the samples out of mainland China and would receive a 'transportation fee'. Her guardian was called to the checkpoint for investigations

The girl admitted that she was asked to smuggle the samples out of mainland China and would receive a 'transportation fee'. Her guardian was called to the checkpoint for investigations

The girl admitted that she was asked to smuggle the samples out of mainland China and would receive a ‘transportation fee’. Her guardian was called to the checkpoint for investigations

‘We immediately suspected it was the blood of pregnant woman who wanted to do gender tests outside of mainland China,’ the officer said. 

‘We transported the samples to a lab and on on March 18, tests results confirmed they were the blood of pregnant women,’ he said. 

The girl admitted that she was asked to smuggle the samples out of mainland China and would receive a ‘transportation fee’. Her guardian was called to the checkpoint for further investigations. 

'The girl's backpack was so full, it looked like it was going to burst open,' a customs official said

'The girl's backpack was so full, it looked like it was going to burst open,' a customs official said

‘The girl’s backpack was so full, it looked like it was going to burst open,’ a customs official said

This is the second case this year to involve the smuggling of blood products, according to China Customs, adding that the haul was the largest they had uncovered in the past two years

This is the second case this year to involve the smuggling of blood products, according to China Customs, adding that the haul was the largest they had uncovered in the past two years

This is the second case this year to involve the smuggling of blood products, according to China Customs, adding that the haul was the largest they had uncovered in the past two years

It is unclear if the girl would be penalised. Calls from MailOnline to China Customs and the Luohu Customs office went unanswered. 

This is the second case this year to involve the smuggling of blood products, according to a Weibo statement by China Customs, adding that the haul was the largest they had uncovered in the past two years. 

China’s controversial one-child policy, combined with the traditional preference for sons, have created a severe gender imbalance. As of 2015, there were 117 boys born for every 100 girls.  

China banned all sex identification exams done for non-medical reasons in 2001 in order to prevent sex-selective abortions. 

The girl was caught with a backpack full of blood samples at Luohu Port (pictured) in Shenzhen

The girl was caught with a backpack full of blood samples at Luohu Port (pictured) in Shenzhen

The girl was caught with a backpack full of blood samples at Luohu Port (pictured) in Shenzhen

The policy prompted many couples in mainland China to ‘mail’ blood samples to clinics in Hong Kong. The city has always been exempt from the one-child policy and has no regulations against determining the sex of an unborn child. 

At Hong Kong clinics, tests would be conducted to search for a Y-chromosome in a mother’s blood.

In a similar case in July 2017, a Shenzhen customs official was previously quoted as saying that they had seen an increase in the number of blood sample smuggles after the one-child policy was scrapped.

What problems has the one-child policy caused in China?

For about 40 years, couples in China were only allowed to have one child (file photo)

For about 40 years, couples in China were only allowed to have one child (file photo)

For about 40 years, couples in China were only allowed to have one child (file photo)

The one-child policy, combined with a traditional Chinese preference for having sons, has created a gender imbalance so severe that as of 2015 there were 117 boys born for every 100 girls.  

The one-child policy has also left China with a ticking time bomb: a rapidly ageing population.

The ambitious nation has apparently ‘got old before getting rich’, a frustrating factor for the world’s second largest economy. 

China is ageing more rapidly than almost any country in recent history, reported Forbes, citing the United Nations.

By 2050, China could face a serious labour shortage as the country’s dependency ratio for retirees could rise as high as 44 per cent by mid 21st century, according to the same Forbes article.

China had 222 million people aged 60 years or older as of 2015, according to Xinhua News Agency. The figure accounted for about 17 per cent of the nation’s entire population.

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