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Sina News is a Shanghai-based news platform belonging to one of China's biggest online media company, Sina.
Kids playing in Hunan Province, China
China 2.0
Laura Lin

Child Thieves For Hire In China

A county in China long known for its poets and philosophers is now in the news for something far more notorious — renting out children as thieves for hire.

In Dao county in the southern Chinese province of Hunan, a child can be rented for 200 yuan ($29) a day, or 50,000 yuan ($7200) a year, according to a recent article in the online news outlet Sina.

The website reports that one reason for the popularity of the illegal practice is that parents used to be fined heavily for having more than one child, a Chinese politburo policy that was recently reversed. Renting out an older child was seen as a way to pay for a new arrival.

Recently, police caught three women and three children for stealing, Sina reports. The publication described their modus operandi as such: While one woman keeps an eye out outside the store being targeted, two others distract the store owner. Since no one pays attention to the children, they are free to grab cash and valuables from the cash register, before letting the women know it's time to leave. And if for example they manage to steal an iPhone, the rule is to switch it off immediately and then tug at the skirt of one of the adults.

Police haven't charged the women with theft in this case, Sina reports. Instead, the women involved are accused of inciting children to commit an offense — a more serious charge.

A scene from Go Princess Go

No Gays, Nothing 'Weird': China's New TV Censorship Rules

BEIJING — "No more homosexuality, extramarital affairs, or one-night stand content in Chinese television drama." Thus reads a general rule published jointly this week by China's Federation of Television Production Committee and the Chinese TV drama production Industry Association, Sina News reported.

The list is extended to anything that is "against scientific spirit," or which "promotes feudal superstitious beliefs," such as spirit possession, witchcraft practices or reincarnation. "Abnormal sexual relations" which "show pornographic and vulgar interests" such as incest, homosexuality, extramarital affairs or one-night stands are also prohibited. Even character portrayal is not allowed to be "weird and exaggerated."

In a country that boasts of having 57 minority groups, also banned from the small screen is anything suspected of "endangering national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity."

This latest news about censorship is, ironically perhaps, everywhere on China's social media. One screenwriter said to the Hong-Kong-based Apple Daily that "Not only has my superior told me that plots about a struggle between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law are politically incorrect, it is also immoral that in my story the mistress eventually wins the struggle with the man's wife."

Just last week, China's regulators took down a several very popular web streaming dramas including Hooked and Go Princess Go. The main theme and content of these online series are all about "Boys' Love" or "BL", a term describing gay-themed fiction, which has in recent years won a particular popularity in China among young women.