Child beggars targeted in abduction crackdown

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 August, 2011, 12:00am


Mainland police have embarked on a nationwide background search of suspected child abductees as part of a crackdown on child trafficking.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, police officers will investigate the backgrounds of more than a dozen categories of children, including beggars, minors in the care of government welfare agencies, delinquents and adoptees, to see if they have been abducted. The officers will go through household registration, student, adoption, family-planning, and epidemic prevention records, as well as tip-offs from the public; take DNA from suspected abductees and compare the samples to those in a database of missing children.

Meng Jianzhu, the minister of public security, called on the public to contact the authorities with any information about trafficked children.

Meng said on Tuesday that the ministry would raise public awareness of child abduction and trafficking via the media and advertising.

Yu Jianrong, a rural expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who was briefed on the campaign, said it was 'the first time police launched such a large-scale drive against abduction'.

Yu said the normal practice was for police to simply hand children over to the care of welfare agencies under the Ministry of Civil Affairs if they could not find their parents.

The nationwide campaign comes after a high-profile effort earlier this year in which Yu and several other researchers encouraged people to take photos of child beggars, and post the pictures and details on his microblog. The effort helped reunite many of the children with their families.

Yu said the ministry's campaign would depend on co-operation between the police and other arms of government, such as education and health authorities, but the key factor was public involvement.

But some parents of missing children have doubts about whether officers on the ground will make the campaign a priority.

Ning Chengchuan, a farmer in Yulin, Guangxi province, said his son went missing a year ago but the police investigation was going nowhere.

Ning said he posted information of his two-year-old son in various forums and chat rooms but someone had since changed critical information in some of the posts, including the date the boy disappeared.

'I went to the police station to ask them to find out who [changed the details], but they have done nothing so far,' he said.

'They told me the websites didn't have time [to co-operate].'

Ning said the campaign would not be effective if local police had that kind of attitude.

There have been various campaigns launched against the abduction and trafficking of women and children since April 2009. State media reported that about 18,000 women and 9,400 children had been rescued by the end of last year as a result of the efforts.

Last month, police rescued 103 abducted children in raids on two child trafficking groups in 14 provinces.