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Hanoi - Two Chinese men have been detained after attempting to traffic a 15-day-old Vietnamese baby across the border between Vietnam and China, a Vietnamese border security official said on Thursday.

Ly Bao Son, 43, and Vuong Nguy, 39, were caught by authorities while driving with the child in their car across Quang Ninh Province, which borders China yet is only five hours from Hanoi.

Lieutenant Colonel and border gate official Tran Xuan Khanh told dpa the arrest of the two human traffickers is part of an ongoing investigation.

"The two Chinese men claimed the boy was Vietnamese and was bought for 150 000 yuan [21 416 dollars] from a woman named Le Ngoc Hieu, who lives in Ho Chi Minh City," Khanh said.

Hieu admitted she was paid 12 080 dollars to act as a surrogate mother.

"She gave birth to the child in Ho Chi Minh City. Right after giving birth, the child was sent to the two Chinese men who brought the baby to China," Khanh added.

This is the first time Vietnamese border gate officials have dealt with a human-trafficking case relating to a newborn.

Human trafficking of Vietnamese citizens to other countries is a huge issue.

At the beginning of December, officials in Ho Chi Minh City announced that there have been as many as 3,476 Vietnamese victims of human trafficking since 2013.

Over 90 per cent of victims are women or children, often hailing from poor rural areas or from ethnic minorities who are preyed on by traffickers.

On October 23, 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in the back of a lorry in Britain.

dpa