Stricter rules planned for state orphanages

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2006, 12:00am

New rules to regulate government-run orphanages will be announced soon, according to the civil affairs minister.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National People's Congress yesterday, Li Xueju said the new regulations aimed to lay out standards for running government orphanages and to narrow the huge discrepancies among them.

'Some [government orphanages] are very good, while some are very bad. We have to think of ways to narrow the gap,' he said.

'Children should not have to eat bad food because an orphanage is located in a poor area and children should not have better food because an orphanage is in a wealthier place. There should be one standard for the entire country.'

Mr Li said the new regulations would lay down the minimum requirements for meeting the needs of children to ensure their healthy growth. The regulations would also specify the requirements for those operating orphanages.

'There should be strict prerequisites for the head or staff of an orphanage. Not just anybody can work in an orphanage,' he said.

China has more than 1,000 government orphanages, usually referred to as children's welfare homes.

China's orphanages are notorious for their poor conditions. They are also tainted by reports of operators participating in the illegal baby trade.

Last month a former head of an orphanage in Hunan province and nine baby traffickers were jailed for between one and 15 years for buying and selling abducted children to foreigners.

When asked how authorities would clamp down on such activities, Mr Li said that in addition to police crackdowns, the only way was to impose stricter guidelines on the staff working in orphanages.