TAIPEI–Parents in China that want to learn the gender of their unborn child have helped develop an underground market for baby gender determination, according to a recent Chinese news report.

Besides scheduling ultrasound scans for women, a number of agencies will even go as far as providing services to women who want to abort female fetuses that are as old as four months, the Southern Daily reported. As a result of an overwhelming preference for male children, China’s population is facing a widening gender imbalance, with experts predicting that China’s 30 million to 40 million men of marriageable age will be unable to find a wife in 2020, according to the report.

A Chinese lawyer Zhou Yuzhong was quoted in the report as saying that the easy availability of type B ultrasound machines was the main reason that the practice of gender determination could not be stopped. He pointed out that the machines could easily be bought without a license from certain unscrupulous store owners.

He added that sellers of type B ultrasound machines need to acquire special licenses to distribute the medical device, so they should be punished if they violate licensing and distribution regulations.

As for people that purchase these machines, Zhou said, they are engaging in an unregulated, illegal medical practice. The Chinese government should quickly establish a more comprehensive system governing the machine’s production, management,