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Behind the Discovery of Hunan's Family Tragedy

It started four years ago when a close buddy who uses the pseudonym Yang Guang tipped me off.
"Bro, I got a sensation," he wrote in an online message. "A family planning agency somewhere has been taking away babies and selling them to an orphanage."

I laughed at what I thought was my friend's sheer paranoia. How could that be true? A parent will fight to the death if someone tries to take away his or her child.

Yang approached me again a few days later, reassuring me that his hunch was valid. It had happened in Hunan Province. Families had paid a heavy price.

At that point, I turned appalled by the limits of my own imagination. Things can indeed be absurd in this country. I should have known better than to question my friend.

In fact, though, a part of me never doubted Yang's words from the start. I wondered how on earth such anyone could behave so atrociously, yet I adjusted myself to believing that this in fact could and did happen in China.

Yang then gave me a smoking gun: He showed me a hand-written complaint against officials at a family planning agency in Hunan Province's Longhui County. It said the officials had allegedly confiscated babies, held them to coerce families into paying steep fees, and sent some to an orphanage in exchange for money.

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