China

China police investigate 'vanished' Vietnamese brides

This photo taken on 29 July 2014 shows two Vietnamese brides embracing in a shop in Weijian village, in China's Henan province. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chinese men from rural areas often struggle to find a bride from the same area

Chinese authorities are investigating the disappearance of more than 100 Vietnamese women in the northern province of Hebei, local media report.

The women were married through a matchmaker to men living in rural villages near Handan, but vanished in late November, the reports said.

Their matchmaker, a Vietnamese woman living in China, had also left.

China's gender imbalance sometimes sees poorer bachelors seeking brides from South East Asian countries.

China Daily quoted an official as saying an "organised ring" may have been involved in the mass disappearance.

The bachelors had paid tens of thousands of yuan each to the Vietnamese matchmaker, named by local media as Wu Meiyu, who had been living in Hebei for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year she had gone around rural areas in Hebei looking for customers, promising them a Vietnamese bride for a 115,000 yuan ($18,600; £11,800) fee, the reports said.

On 20 November, the wives reportedly told their husbands that they were having a meal with other Vietnamese brides. They subsequently became uncontactable.

When the husbands went to Ms Wu's home to confront her, they found out that she had left a few days earlier.

Jinghua Daily reported that at least one bride subsequently returned. She claimed that she "lost consciousness" after the meal and awoke to find herself in a small house far from her husband's village of Quzhou.

She was told that she would be going elsewhere to "find another husband". The woman left the house and returned to Quzhou to file a police report.

China's longstanding one-child policy has created a gender imbalance as Chinese culture traditionally favours male babies over female.

Some poorer bachelors in rural areas have relied on matchmaking services to find brides from nearby countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar (also known as Burma).

Such demand has fuelled human trafficking. Last month, state media reported that authorities arrested a gang selling Burmese women and girls as wives in China.

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