BEIJING — Officials in southern China have been caught buying bodies from grave robbers in order to meet government cremation quotas, according local reports. Two Guangdong officials, who were in charge of meeting local city municipal requirements that a certain proportion of the areas’ dead be cremated instead of buried, were revealed to have purchased more than 20 corpses from the bordering Guangxi region, according to state news agency Xinhua.
The theft was first reported in late June when a resident in a Guangxi village noticed his grandfather’s body had been stolen from his grave. Police from a nearby city later caught a grave robber who confessed to digging up bodies and transporting them by motorcycle to Guangdong. The grave robber sold 10 bodies for 3,000 yuan ($485) to one of the officials, Xinhua reported. Traditional burial remains popular in parts of China where ancestor worship is still practiced and ancestors’ tombs are believed to bring happiness and good luck to the living.
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