Chinese Officials Buy Bodies to Make Cremation Quotas: Report

This picture taken on November 25, 2012 shows tombstones at a public cemetery that was built for the "flatten graves to return farmland" campaign in suburb Zhoukou, central China's Henan province. Zhoukou has halted a campaign to clear graves for farmland after the demolition of more than two million tombs sparked outrage in a country where ancestors are traditionally held in deep respect.
This picture taken on November 25, 2012 shows tombstones at a public cemetery that was built for the "flatten graves to return farmland" campaign in suburb Zhoukou, central China's Henan province. Zhoukou has halted a campaign to clear graves for farmland after the demolition of more than two million tombs sparked outrage in a country where ancestors are traditionally held in deep respect.AFP / AFP - Getty Images, file

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

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.

IN-DEPTH

- Ed Flanagan

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news