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WUHAN, China — In a small conference room overlooking this city’s smog-shrouded skyline, Huang Jinlai outlines his offer to China’s childless elite: for $240,000, a baby with your DNA, gender of your choice, born by a coddled but captive rural woman.

The arrangement is offered by Mr. Huang’s Baby Plan Medical Technology Company, with branches in four Chinese cities and up to 300 successful births each year.

As in most countries, surrogacy is illegal in China. But a combination of rising infertility, a recent relaxation of the one-child-per-family policy and a cultural imperative to have children has given rise to a booming black market in surrogacy that experts say produces well over 10,000 births a year.

The trade links couples desperate for children with poor women desperate for cash in a murky world of online brokers, dubious private clinics and expensive trips to foreign countries.

“China’s underground market shows that there is a need for surrogacy in society,” said Wang Bin, an associate professor at Nankai University’s law school. “And where there is a need, there is... see more