Refuse bins in Guizhou showing the new local government warning. Picture: SCMP Photos

Official response to Guizhou child deaths invokes anger

Peony Lui
The deaths of five boys in a refuse bin in Bijie city, Guizhou province, last month has heightened concerns over the plight of China’s street children.

The boys succumbed to carbon-monoxide poisoning from burning charcoal.

One month after the incident, refuse bins in the city were painted with the words, “Entry forbidden to humans and animals; enter at your own risk, ”  reported China's Xiaoxiang Morning News on Thursday.

This action by local government caused uproar on the internet. “Kids don’t read well; animals are illiterate – only our government can read the slogan. They should be the ones entering the refuse bins!” said one Weibo user.

“Dumber than a pig,” said another. A third wrote, “In China, it is cozier inside a rubbish bin than out there in the real world.”

The slogan is inappropriate and irresponsible. "It is a simple and crude means to avoid the real problem," said Professor Wang Xuejie, director of Hunan Administration Institute Research Centre.

Wang maintained that the deaths of the five boys revealed shortcomings in local administration policy on public welfare and children’s rights.

While numerous officials were  sacked shortly after last month’s incident, the attitude of local government has disappointed many.
A commentary in the  Beijing News describes the slogan as “lacking humanity, common sense and responsibility”, and that banning entry to refuse bins is a “stop-gap solution”.

Xinhua confirmed that a total of twelve trash bins, all located in Heguantun town, were painted with the slogan. Town mayor Gao Dan openly apologized in response to public outcry.

“I sincerely apologize for the improper words on our town’s trash cans that hurt everyone’s feelings. We will rectify our fault immediately,” he said.
The district government had circulated a notice with criticism of Gao, according to Xinhua Viewpoint.

The sequential incidents in Guizhou highlighted the predicaments of China’s millions of homeless children. A widening wealth gap, rapid urbanisation and rising living costs are dividing families as increasing numbers of poor rural parents leave home to earn a living in larger cities.