China uses mobile app to recover hundreds of missing children

Child trafficking is rampant in China, where population control policies have contributed to a preference for male offspring. (Photo: AFP/STR/File)

Reuters – A mobile app helped Chinese authorities recover hundreds of missing children last year, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, in a country where child trafficking is rampant.

The Ministry of Public Security said 611 missing children were found last year, Xinhua said.

The “Tuanyuan”, or “reunion” in Chinese, app developed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd was launched in May and has allowed police officers to share information and work together.

Users near the location where a child has disappeared receive push notifications, including photos and descriptions. Notifications are sent to users farther and farther from the location of the disappearance if the child is still not found.

A new version of the app in November has expanded its reach through cooperation with other popular mobile apps, such as Alibaba’s online shopping website Taobao, search engine Baidu, Tencent Holdings Ltd’s instant messaging software QQ and mobile ride-sharing platform Didi Chuxing.

Child trafficking is common in China, where population control policies, although recently relaxed, have bolstered a traditional bias for male offspring.

Boys are seen as the main support for elderly parents and heirs to the family name. This has resulted in abortions, killings or abandonment of girls.

The imbalance has created criminal demand for abducted or bought baby boys, but also for baby girls destined to be future brides attracting rich dowries.

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