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Refworld | Death By Default: A Policy of Fatal Neglect in China's State Orphanages

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When an orphan chosen in this manner was visibly on the point of death from . Shanghai's former mayor; Xie Lijuan, the city's deputy mayor; and Sun Jinfu, seek to determine whether the killing of infants through "summary resolution" or of the Ministry of Public Security, jointly sent to Chairman Mao, Premier Zhou, the. The Chinese Civil War was a war fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led government of the Conflict continued intermittently until late , when the two parties came . However, Chiang and Li Zongren, whose armies defeated warlord Sun . The Communists, under the command of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. der the gun from the transnational business commu- nity to get China into the WTO before the November ministerial meeting in Qatar, at which another at-.

In any case, the majority of abandoned children in China never reach the dubious security of a state-run orphanage. Many are sent instead to general-purpose state institutions, where they are confined indiscriminately with retarded, disabled, elderly, and mentally disturbed adults. Although the statistical evidence is unclear, the limited eyewitness information available suggests that death rates among children held in these facilities may be even higher than in China's specialized orphanages.

In addition, Chinese official records fail to account for most of the country's abandoned infants and children, only a small proportion of whom are in any form of acknowledged state care.

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The most recent figure provided by the government for the country's orphan population,seems implausibly low for a country with a total population of 1. Even if it were accurate, however, the whereabouts of the great majority of China's orphans would still be a complete mystery, leaving crucial questions about the country's child welfare system unanswered and suggesting that the real scope of the catastrophe that has befallen China's unwanted children may be far larger than the evidence in this report documents.

Sincea program of cosmetic "reforms" has transformed the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute into an international showcase for China's social policies, while an administrative reorganization of the city's welfare system has largely concealed the continuing abuse of infants and children.

Ironically, the Chinese government has praised Shanghai's municipal orphanage extensively as a national model for the care of abandoned and disabled children. In addition to frequent flattering coverage in China's official media, the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute receives considerable financial support from Chinese and international charities and hosts a steady stream of private and official visitors.

Behind the institution's glossy official image, however, lies a pattern of horrifying abuse. The brutal treatment of orphans in Shanghai, which included deliberate starvation, torture, and sexual assault, continued over a period of many years and led to the unnatural deaths of well over 1, children between and alone.

This campaign of elimination could be kept secret through the complicity of both higher- and lower-level staff, and because the city's Bureau of Civil Affairs, responsible for the orphanage, also runs the crematoria, where starved children's corpses were disposed of with minimum oversight, often even before a death certificate had been filled out by the attending physician.

In addition, officials of various Shanghai municipal agencies knowingly suppressed evidence of child abuse at the orphanage, persistently ignored the institute's high monthly death figures, and inquashed an investigation into orphanage practices. Conditions in the Shanghai orphanage came close to being publicly exposed in the early s as a result of pressure by concerned orphanage employees, local journalists and sympathetic Shanghai officials. Byhowever, virtually all the critical staff members were forced out of their positions and silenced.

The orphanage leadership was assisted in its efforts to cover up the truth by three of the city's top leaders: Wu, Huang, and Xie were fully informed of the abuses occurring at the Children's Welfare Institute, but took no action to halt them or to punish those responsible, acting instead to shield senior management at the orphanage and to prevent news of the abuses from reaching the public.

The cosmetic changes at the Shanghai orphanage since have been engineered by Han Weicheng, its former director. Although he was a major perpetrator of abuses there, Han was promoted to an even more senior position within the municipal welfare bureaucracy.

At about the same time, the orphanage was opened to visitors and large numbers of children from the city's orphanage began to be transferred to another custodial institution, the Shanghai No. Located on Chongming Island, a remote rural area north of Shanghai, the No. While the city government has aggressively promoted the adoption of healthy or mildly disabled orphans by visiting foreigners, reports from visitors to the orphanage in indicate that infants with more serious handicaps are generally diverted to the Chongming Island institution within weeks or months of their arrival.

Extreme secrecy surrounds the functioning of the Chongming Island institution, raising serious suspicions and fears as to the likely fate of children transferred there.

Perversion of Medical Ethics Some Western observers have charged that the phenomenally high death rates among China's abandoned children result from neglect and lack of medical training on the part of orphanage employees. Anecdotal evidence from foreign charity workers and adoptive parents has painted a grim picture of decrepit and poorly financed institutions run by demoralized and unskilled nursing staff. When an orphan chosen in this manner was visibly on the point of death from starvation or medical neglect, orphanage doctors were then asked to perform medical "consultations" which served as a ritual marking the child for subsequent termination of care, nutrition, and other life-saving intervention.

Deaths from acute malnutrition were then, in many cases, falsely recorded as having resulted from other causes, often entirely spurious or irrelevant conditions such as "mental deficiency" and "cleft palate.

Worse, the Shanghai orphanage's medical staff then used these supposed disabilities as a justification for eliminating unwanted infants through starvation and medical neglect. Such unconscionable behavior by doctors in China's most advanced and cosmopolitan city points to an ethical crisis of immense proportions in the country's medical profession.

This corruption of medical ethics reflects broader trends in Chinese law and health policy, including recent debates in the National People's Congress, the country's nominal legislature, on legalizing euthanasia for the incapacitated elderly. Official press reports indicate that the Chinese government may also have given serious consideration to allowing euthanasia for handicapped children, but has declined to do so for fear of the international repercussions.

The medical evidence suggests, however, that just such pseudo-eugenic practices may have been carried out at the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute. At the very least, the city's abandoned infants, even when not genuinely disabled, became the victims of a policy of deliberate and fatal neglect resulting in their wholesale death by default.

Reports from the Shanghai orphanage also indicate that medical staff there misused their authority in other ways.

Death By Default: A Policy of Fatal Neglect in China's State Orphanages

In several cases, children who were accused of misbehavior or were in a position to expose abuses at the orphanage were falsely diagnosed as "mentally ill" and transferred to psychiatric hospitals against their will; in one case, a teenage girl named Chou Hui was imprisoned for four months to prevent her from testifying that she had been raped by orphanage director Han Weicheng. Many other children were given powerful drugs without any apparent medical justification, in order to control their behavior.

The Need For A Worldwide Response The enormous loss of life occurring in China's orphanages and other children's institutions calls for immediate action by the international community.

The United Nations and its specialized agencies must take the lead in investigating conditions in China's child welfare system and in bringing these abuses to an end. Governments throughout the world must make the treatment of China's abandoned children one of their highest priorities as they continue to press for improvements in the country's human rights record.

Committee on the Rights of the Child in The Chinese government has thus submitted itself voluntarily to international monitoring on the treatment of its minor citizens. Nevertheless, the evidence compiled in this report shows that China's policies towards abandoned infants and children are in clear violation of many articles of the convention.

Specialized agencies working on children's issues in China, such as the United Nations Children's Fund unicef and the World Health Organization, should also make a thorough reform of the country's orphanage system their highest priority. We further call for an immediate investigation into abuses against institutionalized children in China by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, who investigates patterns of deliberate state action resulting in death.

Action by the United Nations and its agencies must be accompanied by a strong response from national governments. Bilateral pressure on China to ensure the rights of abandoned infants and children should be given at least as high a priority as demands to free political and religious detainees or to end torture and ill-treatment in the country's prisons.

Protecting the lives of China's orphans must remain at the top of the agenda in any future human rights dialogue with the Chinese authorities. Other branches of the Chinese government must hold the Ministry of Civil Affairs and its officials fully accountable for the atrocities being committed against China's orphans.

A list of the organization's recommendations follows. Ending Impunity in Shanghai Most Chinese citizens familiar only with official media reports on the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute accept the authorities' claim that conditions for the city's orphans are exemplary. This report shows that the fate of most abandoned children in Shanghai is, in fact, much the same as elsewhere in China. Untilthe majority of infants brought to the institute died there within a few months of arrival, and the minority who survived to older childhood were subject to brutal abuse and neglect.

Indeed, the only genuinely unique feature of the Shanghai orphanage appears to be its success since at generating revenue for the municipal Civil Affairs Bureau. The city's newly reorganized child welfare system now presents the municipal orphanage as its acceptable public face, serving as an advertisement for both charitable giving and profitable foreign adoptions, and a ban on negative media coverage of the Children's Welfare Institute has been in force since We fear that efforts to duplicate the Shanghai experience elsewhere in China are likely to further worsen conditions for the country's abandoned children, and to strengthen the vested interest of the Ministry of Civil Affairs in obstructing genuine reforms.

Any attempt to improve the treatment of Chinese orphans must therefore begin by reopening the official investigation into misconduct within the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, launched in and abruptly terminated the following year. Above all, such an inquiry would seek the widest possible publicity for any evidence of wrongdoing uncovered and would pursue appropriate legal sanctions against bureau employees found responsible for abusing children and causing avoidable deaths.

Such an inquiry will confront the fact that a number of people associated directly or indirectly with abuses at the Shanghai orphanage continue to hold positions of authority, and many have since been promoted or otherwise risen in status. The beneficiaries of this apparent impunity range from ordinary staff members such as the child-care worker Xu Shanzhen, certified as a "model worker" in early despite her brutal abuse of a retarded child, to the former Communist Party secretary of Shanghai, Wu Bangguo, who reportedly ordered media coverage of the scandal suppressed and has since been appointed vice-premier of China.

However, these obstacles make it all the more imperative that swift action be taken at the most senior levels to break the cycle of impunity. To demonstrate this commitment, the authorities should immediately reopen the inquiry into conditions at the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute.

The leadership of the new investigation should be entirely independent of both the Shanghai municipal government and the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Such an inquiry could be led by a specially appointed committee of delegates to the National People's Congress or the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Members of the committee should include medical and legal professionals and should be drawn from throughout the country. Pending the outcome of the investigation, all management personnel at the institution should be suspended from their positions and replaced by an independent leadership group, preferably including a number of qualified medical doctors, which would aid the authorities in gathering evidence about conditions at the orphanage.

Administrative authority over the city's custodial welfare system should be temporarily transferred from the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau to another government department, possibly the Shanghai Public Health Bureau. Criminal penalties should be applied as well to those responsible for administrative violations, such as falsification of medical records and unlawful disposal of corpses, which constitute, among others, the crime of "dereliction of duty" duzhi zui under China's Criminal Code.

In reopening the investigation, the authorities should place particular emphasis on the practices of "summary resolution" beforewhereby children were intentionally killed through deprivation of food and medical care. Public statements by senior officials should stress that all such incidents, where they can be verified, will be prosecuted to the full extent under Chinese law. Criminal charges of "dereliction of duty" should be brought against present and former city officials who appear to have knowingly suppressed evidence of child abuse at the orphanage.

At a minimum, these include: Special attention should also be paid to conditions for infants and young children secretly transferred to the Chongming Island institute sinceand should seek to determine whether the killing of infants through "summary resolution" or other similar methods is presently occurring there. A criminal investigation should be opened into the alleged rape and murder of a twenty-nine-year-old woman, named Guang Zi, at the facility in August The progress of the official inquiry, including any resulting criminal prosecutions, should be publicized without restraint by local and national media.

Public Accountability Despite the urgent need to resolve these outstanding problems in Shanghai, the above measures represent only the first stage of what should be a nationwide campaign to improve conditions for children in China's welfare institutes. A critical factor in the success of any such effort will be the Chinese government's willingness to expose these institutions to intensive public scrutiny, not only from concerned foreigners but, even more importantly, from China's own citizens.

The deceptive policy of "openness" introduced by the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute in must be replaced by genuine transparency in order to prevent future abuses from going undetected. These should give detailed figures on the number of abandoned infants and children discovered in each Chinese province in recent years, as well as the number of such children offered up for legal adoption, fostered with private families, and placed in institutional care. The ministry should also publish a list of all custodial institutions in China which care for unsupported minors, including specialized orphanages, urban "social welfare institutes," and collectively run "respecting-the-aged homes" in rural areas.

The list should include the location of each institution and its population on a specified date, as well as all available statistics on child intake and mortality rates in recent years. In future, such basic population statistics for each institution should be published on an annual basis. Since most abandoned infants and children in China are delivered to the civil affairs authorities by local police departments and hospitals, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Public Health should begin compiling and publishing regular statistics on child abandonment, including the sex and estimated age of each child discovered.

This will provide an independent check on the accuracy of intake figures submitted to the Ministry of Civil Affairs by individual institutions, and will prevent the under-reporting of intakes which allegedly took place in Shanghai during the s. The Ministry of Civil Affairs should ensure that journalists participating in these investigations receive full cooperation from institute staff, including unrestricted access to all children in each institution.

Any abusive or negligent conditions uncovered during the course of journalists' inquiries should be publicly exposed and promptly remedied. Objective reporting on conditions in China's child welfare system should remain a priority indefinitely. Local civil affairs authorities should encourage public involvement in the care of orphans, particularly by qualified medical personnel. Management Reforms Although the steps outlined above are likely to bring about a sharp reduction in some of the worst abuses within the child welfare system, basic changes in institutional management are equally important in order to guarantee that these initial improvements last.

These include administrative measures to strengthen the outside monitoring of children's treatment, as well as improvements in the selection, training and discipline of institute staff. The directors of welfare institutes where child mortality rates appear to be higher than expected, given normal levels of care, should be subject to investigation and dismissed if mismanagement is shown to be a contributing factor. The use of all-purpose "social welfare institutes" to warehouse orphans and other incapacitated persons should be ended as soon as practically possible.

All deaths of minors in institutional care should be treated as potentially unnatural, and hence subject to reporting, investigation and documentation requirements of the Public Security Bureau, as well as independent autopsies by qualified medical personnel affiliated with the Bureau of Public Health.

Local health bureaus which are notified of a significant number of children's deaths in welfare institutions within their jurisdiction should immediately call for an investigation by local authorities. The ministry should also promulgate a formal disciplinary policy to be applied by institute management in cases of misconduct by junior staff. Ordinary child-care workers should be trained in basic first-aid techniques, particularly to respond to cases of choking and accidental injuries, and in appropriate feeding methods for infants and small children, especially those with disabilities.

Doctors whose medical educations were interrupted, for example during the Cultural Revolution, should not be employed as institute medical staff unless they have completed the necessary remedial coursework. Abandoned infants requiring these relatively inexpensive procedures should receive them as soon as medically advisable, and should be given individual attention in the meantime to ensure that they remain adequately nourished.

Training programs for child-care workers should emphasize the importance of individual care, attention and stimulation for infants' normal mental development. Legislative Reforms The phenomenon of child abandonment is not unique to China, and many of the factors which lead parents to abandon their children are beyond the government's power to remedy, at least in the short term.

Rural poverty, prejudice against the disabled, traditional attitudes towards female children, and the pressures generated by the country's stringent population policy all contribute to the problem. It must be stressed, however, that whatever the reasons for the orphanhood or abandonment, once such children are accepted into state care, the government has an unshirkable duty to provide them with adequate care and protection.

For the foreseeable future, China will need to maintain a system of state-run foster care for some orphans, particularly the severely disabled. An effective domestic adoption program would eliminate the need for institutional care for virtually all of China's abandoned children.

Both the media and the State Commission for Family Planning should actively promote the adoption of orphans as an alternative for couples seeking larger families than China's population policies allow. In certain parts of the country, mainly the south, such welfare work was traditionally carried out by "benevolent associations" established by clans or extended families, often financed by endowments of farmland.

Elsewhere, charitable institutions funded by wealthy individuals and groups provided similar assistance on a more limited scale. Beginning in the nineteenth century, humanitarian work by foreigners, organized almost exclusively by the country's growing number of Catholic and Protestant missions, expanded dramatically and began to play a primary role in caring for Chinese orphans, particularly in the major cities.

After the revolution, China's privately financed charities were rapidly deprived of their economic basis, as land reform destroyed the financial power of the rural clans and the nationalization of urban business eliminated the old middle class.

Many people complained about the slow voting process, due mainly to the complicated procedure which required them to first complete the local government ballots before moving on to the 10 referendum questions. He said Taiwan was a global information and technology giant, but the ballot procedure was worse than that found in many third world countries. The most controversial referendums of the day concerned LGBT issues, a debate that has proved hugely divisive. The ballot included three measures put forward by the conservative group Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, which says its supports gay rights by wants seek to block efforts to introduce same-sex marriage and wants to ban lessons to teach primary and junior high school pupils about same-sex relationships.

But gay rights groups sought to counter this by asking voters to support changes to the civil code that would redefine marriage and include same-sex relations in school sex education classes. Three other votes on air pollution and nuclear power had also passed the 5 million mark.

But one supporter of same-sex marriage said she hoped society would become more tolerant.

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Another closely watched referendum is one that asks voters to choose whether its international sports teams should ditch their current designation as Chinese-Taipei and compete as Taiwan instead.

Not only would that move anger Beijing, but the International Olympic Committee has warned that the island could risk losing its right to compete if it seeks to change its name. Former Kuomintang outcast turns up heat on Taiwan election rival A woman surnamed Wang, 27, said she voted to keep the current name of Chinese Taipei.

Early political activities[ edit ] A young Zhou Enlai Zhou returned to Tianjin sometime in the spring of Zhou's "official" Chinese biography states that he was a leader of the Tianjin student protests in the May Fourth movement, [31] but many modern scholars believe that it is highly unlikely that Zhou participated at all, based on the total lack of direct evidence among the surviving records from the period.

His political activities continued to expand, and in September, he and several other students agreed to establish the "Awakening Society", a small group, never numbering more than It was in this society that Zhou first met his future wife, Deng Yingchao. Zhou was "Number Five", a pseudonym which he continued to use in later years. Zhou assumed more prominent active role in political activities over the next few months. As the boycott became more effective, the national government, under pressure from Japan, attempted to suppress it.

On 23 Januarya confrontation over boycott activities in Tianjin led to the arrest of a number of people, including several Awakening Society members, and on 29 January Zhou led a march on the Governor's Office in Tianjin to present a petition calling for the arrestees' release.

Zhou and three other leaders were themselves arrested. The arrestees were held for over six months; during their detention, Zhou supposedly organized discussions on Marxism.

All were immediately released since they had already been held over six months. After Zhou's release, he and the Awakening Society met with several Beijing organizations and agreed to form a "Reform Federation"; during these activities Zhou became more familiar with Li Dazhao and met Zhang Shenfu, who was the contact between Li in Beijing and Chen Duxiu in Shanghai. Both men were organizing underground Communist cells in cooperation with Grigori Voitinsky[40] a Comintern agent, but Zhou apparently did not meet Voitinsky at this point.

Amid trade war, Argentina sees opportunities with both US and China | South China Morning Post

Soon after his release, Zhou decided to go to Europe to study. He was expelled from Nankai University during his detention. Although money was a problem, he received a scholarship from Yan Xiu. Zhou left Shanghai for Europe on 7 November with a group of work study students, including friends from Nankai and Tianjin. Zhou and six other group members travelled to Europe in the next two years, and Zhou eventually married Deng Yingchaothe group's youngest member.

European activities[ edit ] Zhou's group arrived in Marseille on 13 December Unlike most other Chinese students, who traveled to Europe on work-study programs, Zhou's scholarship and position with Yishi bao meant that he was well provided for and did not have to do any work during his stay. Because of his financial position, he was able to devote himself full-time to revolutionary activities.

In the same letter, Zhou told his cousin that, regarding his adoption of a specific ideology, "I still have to make up my mind. In London in JanuaryZhou witnessed a large miners' strike and wrote a series of articles for the Yishi bao generally sympathetic to the miners examining the conflict between workers and employers, and the conflict's resolution.

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After five weeks in London he moved to Paris, where interest in Russia's October Revolution was high. In a letter to his cousin, Zhou identified two broad paths of reform for China: Zhou wrote that "I do not have a preference for either the Russian or the British way I would prefer something in-between, rather than one of these two extremes".

Concerned by financial problems and language requirements, he did not enroll, returning to France at the end of January. There are no records of Zhou entering any academic program in France. In springhe joined a Chinese Communist cell. Zhou has sometimes been portrayed at this time as uncertain in his politics, [45] but his swift move to Communism suggests otherwise.

Over the next several months, this group eventually formed a united organization with a group of Chinese radicals from Hunan, who were living in Montargis south of Paris. Unlike Zhou, most of the students in this group were participants in the work-study program. A series of conflicts with the Chinese administrators of the program over low pay and poor working conditions resulted in over a hundred students occupying the program's offices at the Sino-French Institute in Lyon in September The students, including several people from the Montargis group, were arrested and deported.

Zhou was apparently not one of the occupying students and remained in France until February or Marchwhen he moved with Zhang and Liu from Paris to Berlin. Zhou's move to Berlin was perhaps because the relatively "lenient" political atmosphere in Berlin made it more favorable as a base for overall European organizing. Zhou returned to Paris by Junewhere he was one of the twenty two participants present at the organization of the Chinese Youth Communist Partyestablished as the European Branch of the Chinese Communist Party.

It was in Zhou's capacity as general editor of this magazine that Zhou first met Deng Xiaopingonly seventeen years old, whom Zhou hired to operate a mimeograph copy machine.

After joining the KMT, they would work to lead and direct it, transforming it into a vehicle of revolution. Under Zhou's influence, most of the European branch's officers were in fact communists. Zhou's wide-ranging contacts and personal relationships formed during this period were central to his career.

Bythe Soviet-Nationalist alliance was expanding rapidly and Zhou was summoned back to China for further work. He left Europe probably in late July[54] returning to China as one of the most senior Chinese Communist Party members in Europe. Political and military work in Whampoa[ edit ] Establishment in Guangzhou[ edit ] Chiang Kai-shek center and Zhou Enlai left with cadets at Whampoa Zhou returned to China in late August or early September to join the Political Department of the Whampoa Military Academyprobably through the influence of Zhang Shenfu, who had previously worked there.

A few months after his arrival, possibly Octoberhe became deputy director of the Academy's Political Department, and later, possibly Novemberdirector of the department. While he was serving in Whampoa, Zhou was also made the secretary of the Communist Party of Guandong-Guangxi, and served as the CCP representative with the rank of major-general. Conceived as the training center of the Nationalist Party Army, it was to provide the military base from which the Nationalists would launch their campaign to unify China, which was split into dozens of military satrapies.

From its beginning, the school was funded, armed, and partly staffed by the Soviets. As a result, Zhou was a prominent figure at most Academy meetings, often addressing the school immediately after commandant Chiang Kai-shek. He thus recruited numerous new Communist party members from cadet ranks, and eventually set up a covert Communist Party branch at the academy to direct the new members.

The first was in January when Chen Jiongmingan important Cantonese military leader previously driven out of Guangzhou by Sun Yat-sen, attempted to retake Guangzhou. The Nationalist regime's campaign against Chen consisted of forces from the Guangdong Army under Xu Chongzhiand two training regiments of the Nationalist Party Army, led by Chiang Kai-shek and staffed by Academy officers and cadets.

When Chen regrouped and attacked Guangzhou again in Septemberthe Nationalists launched a second expedition. Nationalist forces by this time had been reorganized into five corps or armiesand adopted the commissar system with Political Departments and Nationalist party representatives in most divisions. Shantou was taken on 6 November, and by the end ofthe Nationalists controlled all of Guangdong province. Zhou's appointment as chief commissar of the First Corps allowed him to appoint Communists as commissars in four of the Corps' five divisions.

Political activities[ edit ] In personal terms, was also an important year for Zhou. The two married in Guangzhou on 8 August