BEIJING (AFP) - The Chinese police are seeking more than 100 Vietnamese brides who vanished after marrying bachelors from a poor rural area, with reports saying on Thursday an "organised ring" could be behind the disappearance.
The men, from Quzhou in the northern province of Hebei, were introduced to the women by Ms Wu Meiyu, a Vietnamese bride who had lived in the area for 20 years, the China Daily said.
Ms Wu, who received payments of more than 100,000 yuan (S$21,230) if the introductions were successful, disappeared with the women, it added.
The state-run newspaper cited an unnamed local official saying an organised ring may have been involved in the mass disappearance. "With the advanced communication techniques of today, it's easy for all the brides to leave at the same time," he told the newspaper.
Buying wives from South-east Asian countries has become increasingly common in some of China's poor rural areas, where a gender imbalance has developed due to a traditional preference for sons and the country's family planning policies.
Across China, 118 males are born for every 100 females, according to government statistics.
In some rural areas, men can be expected to own a house, car and have considerable wealth before they can attract a Chinese bride, a cost the China Daily said could reach 400,000 yuan.
But with many unable to do so, the trade in overseas brides, which is often linked to human trafficking, has grown in China.