Shanghai police are investigating advertisements offering babies for sale on a Chinese Web site owned by Internet auction power eBay, state media said on Thursday.
The ads, which appeared on the Eachnet site on October 16, promised 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 China Daily said.
More than 50 people browsed the posting but no purchases were made before it was quickly removed.
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.
The ads, posted under the username of Chuangxinzhe Yongyuan, or "forever innovator," claimed to be offering the infants to help millions of couples around China unable to have children, the China Daily said.
Tang Lei, from Shanghai-based Eachnet's corporate relations department, said his company removed the posting quickly after it was discovered and explained the word "baby" was not caught in automatic screens for illegal content because of the large number of baby products pitched on the site.
As a result of the incident, Tang told Reuters, the Web site was planning to screen every posting.
The China Daily quoted Tang as saying the ad may have been a practical joke.
"If not, whoever is behind the Chuangxinzhe Yongyuan username could face years in prison or even the death sentence," the newspaper said.
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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