Do they eat babies in China? - Internet/Facebook Rumour
Rumours are circulating the Internet that apparently depict aborted foetuses or dead newborn babies being prepared to be eaten in either China/Taiwan. Versions of the messages claim such foetuses or babies are used in soup, and are consumed to increase sexual virility.
Believe it or not these rumours have circulated vigorously online since around 2000/2001 in various formats, and the notion that people of another country (or race, creed or religion) kill off their offspring or offspring of another group dates back thousands of years. (see Blood Libel)
Regarding the Internet rumours about Chinese consuming their babies, one of the earlier versions of this rumour started in 2000/1 after the below photos circulated apparently depicting a man consuming an aborted foetus.
After investigation however, it was discovered to be the work of a Chinese performance artist by the name of Zhu Yu in a piece called “Eating People”. Whilst Yu did claim the foetus was genuine, the FBI and Scotland Yard found no evidence of wrongdoing, leading many to suspect the artist merely feigned the incident, possibly using a chicken or duck carcass with a dolls head attached.
The photos of Yu circulated with a message asserting that the photos showed a man in a restaurant in China, eating a baby, which were readily available to eat in the country. Of course given the revelation of Zhu Yu, we know this to be false.
The rumours circulated on/off for over a decade before going viral again with the release of several other photos apparently showing babies being prepared for soup (photos at the top of the article).
Tracking down the sources of the photos leads to an article in Seoul Times, a site for "foreigners interested in Korea" that often features viewer letters or opinion pieces. The page that contained the photos is titled "Letters to the Editor" and contains a story (and photos) about how Chinese people prepare dead babies in soup to improve "overall health and stamina and the power of sexual performance" and the story asserts the incidents are occurring in Canton (Guangdong). The page is undated but external sources suggest it is at least two years old.
However the letter fails to provide any sources or evidence to back up the claims. In fact further research fails to uncover any legitimate sources to back up any of the claims made up in the message, as the story appears to have merely been republished on blogs across the Internet, all copying the same story from one another. The source of the newer photos is currently unknown.
The inherent problem with debunking a rumours like this is that given the size of China it is impossible to determine whether this has ever happened somewhere at some point in time by someone, but of course the same would apply to practically any country in the world.
What we do know is the despite the flooding of this story on the Internet for years now, it is nearly all down to sites copying the content of other sites in a game of online Chinese whispers (unintentional pun), and from what we can see no legitimate sources or evidence exist, which effectively discredits any notion that – despite what many of the rumours state or at least imply – that eating babies in China is a common practise or trend.
Just like most of the rest of the world, this act is prohibited in China, and until any source does come to light, we will earmark this as an unverified hoax.
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