By Beh Lih Yi
KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - China rescued more than 1,100 women trafficked into the country, many of them sold as brides, in a joint operation with Southeast Asian countries, police said in a statement on Friday.
Seventeen children were among those rescued in raids carried out with officers from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand between July and December 2018, the Ministry of Public Security said, announcing the operation for the first time.
China's decades-long one-child policy created a huge gender imbalance, leaving the country with far fewer women of marriage age than men.
"The police will continue to crack down so there is no room left for such crime," the ministry said in a statement on its official website.
A rising number of women, especially those from poor families in Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar, have been sold as brides in China in recent years, the United Nations has said.
They are usually approached by brokers in poor rural areas with promises of a job in the city, or they come to the city themselves, and are preyed on by traffickers.
Read More: One-Third of Trafficked Humans Are Kids, UN Says
Cambodia said in 2016 that about 7,000 women were living in forced marriages in China and that it had asked Beijing to tighten the number of visas it issued to single Cambodian women.
China eased its one-child policy in 2016, but anti-trafficking campaigners say the impact on trafficking and forced marriage will not be immediate.
(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)