In an attempt to contend with their shortage of sperm donors in some provinces, Chinese sperm banks are looking to popular e-commerce site Alibaba, which has been offering a promotion from interested sperm banks of up to 5000 yuan (US $805) to donors. With the number of infertile couples in China currently numbering around 50 million and growing, the new measure has helped potential donors who may have been otherwise too timid to act.
Within three days of the offer, more than 22,000 men had signed up to participate and as part of the process, donors are required to show up within three months in order to pass a physical checkup. According to Alibaba, the provinces producing the most donors in descending order were Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangdong, also saying that the most prized features were good features and high intelligence.
In a related move, China’s infertility problem has led some to search for surrogate mothers among working-class women in the U.S. According to a February 2014 report, since 2012, the number of Chinese inquiries made to agencies matching couples from around the world has risen 10 times, and was expected to double again by 2016. Surrogacy is currently illegal in China, which is a big factor in the large number of Chinese inquiries and prices are considerable, ranging from $75,000 to $113,000 for the services of the surrogate mother. With the current infertility rate of 12.5% among all Chinese adults of child-bearing age, interested couples are clearly willing to go to great lengths to produce a family.
In March, China News reported that part of the reason for infertility among couples is rising work pressure in addition to social and environmental changes. Stringent qualifications for sperm donors also limit the potential field of sperm bank candidates. For example, in Shanxi province only 136 people out of 1,213 volunteers qualified, about 10%.