|The Situation of Children in China|
I. Guarantee of Children's Rights and Interests
II. Children's Health and Care
III. Education for Children
IV. Protection of Disabled Children
V. China's Welfare Homes for Children
China is a developing country with a population of over 1.2 billion, of whom over 300 million are children under the age of 16, making up about one fifth of the total number of children in the world.
What is the situation of Chinese children today? The 1996 State of the World's Children Report of the United Nations issued a group of figures, which reflect concrete conditions in the following aspects:
-- The basic indexes on children. In 1994, the mortality rate of children under five in developing countries was 101 per thousand; that in East Asia and the Pacific region, 56 per thousand; and in China, 43 per thousand.
-- Children's nutrition. Between 1980 and 1994, children with low weight in developing countries made up 35 percent on average, 23 percent in East Asia and the Pacific region, and 17 percent in China.
-- Health care for children. In 1994, in developing countries, one-year-old children who were immune to the BCG vaccine totaled 87 percent; those immune to pertussis, diphthe"iria and tetanus, 80 percent; to infantile paralysis, 80 percent; and to measles, 78 percent. The immunity percentages for East Asia and the Pacific region were respectively 94 percent, 91 percent, 92 percent and 89 percent; and those for China, 94 percent, 93 percent, 94 percent and 89 percent.
-- Children's education. Between 1986 and 1993, the net attendance rate of schoolage boys of primary schools in developing countries averaged 87 percent, and that of girls, 80 percent. This compares to, respectively, 99 percent and 94 percent in East Asia and the Pacific region, and 99 percent and 94 percent in China.
To help the world toward a more comprehensive understanding of the situation of Chinese children, of how the Chinese Government and the whole society protect children's survival and development, and of the difficulties and problems on the development of children that remain to be resolved in a developing country like China, we now reveal to the public a range of relevant information about the condition of children in China.
Children are the future and hope of mankind. Today's children will be masters of the 21st century. Children's survival, protection and development, which are the basis for improving the quality of the population and the prerequisite conditions for the advance of mankind, directly concern a country and a nation's future and destiny. The Chinese nation has long cultivated the traditional virtues of ''bringing along the young'' and ''loving the young.'' An old saying, ''Love our own and others' children,'' is still very popular. The Chinese Government, with an earnest and responsible attitude, always shows great concern for children's survival, protection and development. It regards ''the education of children to improve the quality of the whole people'' as a fundamental policy for its socialist modernization program. The government educates society at large to ''protect and educate children, and set an example and do practical things for children.'' It spares no effort to create favorable social conditions for the progress of children's programs. Since the initiation of reform and opening to the outside world, children's programs in China have moved into social, scientific and legal tracks; and children's programs have become an important component part of the nation's construction and the duties of the whole society.
Children's Programs for the 21st Century
On February 16, 1992, the Chinese Government formally promulgated the Outline of the Program for Chinese Children's Development in the 1990s. The formulation of this program fully displays the Chinese Government's earnest and responsible attitude toward, and its concern for, the work impacting children. In accordance with the tasks and general objectives proposed by the Ten-Year Program for China's National Economic and Social Development and the Eighth Five-Year Plan (1991-95), the spirit of the two documents adopted by the Summit Conference on the Issue of World Children, as well as China's actual children's programs, the Outline, having the world, the future and China's modernization program in view, puts forward ten main objectives and tactics and measures for realizing these objectives. It states that the mortality rate of infants and that of children under five in 1990 will both be reduced by one third, and that disease occurrence in children under five caused by moderate and severe malnutrition will drop by 50 percent in 2000. All of the 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government in China have worked out development programs for children in light of the Outline and their respective local conditions. The measures and work for implementing the Outline are carried out in a down-to-earth and effective way throughout the country.
Protection Through Legislation
For many years, China has striven to protect children's legitimate rights and interests through legislation, endeavoring to place such protection on a legal and normal footing. In accordance with the actual conditions in China and by reference to relative legislation in other countries, especially to the laws and international documents on the protection of children's rights and interests, China has worked out a series of laws concerning children's survival, protection and development. With the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as the core, these provisions include the Criminal Law, the General Principles of Civil Law, the Marriage Law, the Education Law, the Compulsory Education Law, the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, the Law on the Protection of Juveniles, the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests, the Law on Health Protection of Mothers and Infants, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, and the Law on Adoption, in addition to a great number of other relevant regulations and measures. Hence a fairly complete legal system for the protection of children's rights and interests has been formed.
The Constitution of China clearly specifies: ''The state promotes the all-round moral, intellectual and physical development of children and young people,'' ''... child are protected by the state,'' and ''maltreatment of ... children is prohibited.'' Formulated according to the Constitution, China's relevant laws include comprehensive and systematic provisions on children's right to life, survival and development, as well as basic health and health care. Provisions also address children's family environment and substitutional care, education, free time and cultural activities and the special protection of disabled children. It is specified that criminal acts, such as maltreating, abandoning and deliberately killing children, as well as stealing, abducting and trafficking, kidnaping, selling and buying in children, should be severely punished. In addition, China's Constitution, laws and relevant administrative legislation also include comparatively complete provisions on the government's functions, the society's participation, work principles and corresponding legal responsibilities in the protection of children's rights and interests. From these it can be clearly seen that China's legal framework for the protection of children's rights and interests and its social guarantee mechanisms are effective in practice.
China's judicial procedure attaches great importance to the protection of juveniles' legal rights and interests, on which there are many important laws containing special provisions. To the juveniles who break the law and commit crimes, China adopts the policy of education, help and reform and adheres to the principle of relying mainly on education while making punishment subsidiary. While handling criminal cases concerning juve"iniles, public security organs, people's procuratorates and people's courts take full consideration of juveniles' physical and mental characteristics, respect their personality and dignity, and safeguard their legal rights and interests. Before criminals are tried, public security organs, people's procuratorates, people's courts and judicial administrative organs detain juveniles separately from adults; and juveniles who serve a sentence decided by the people's court are separately imprisoned from adult criminals and are treated differently. All criminal cases of persons aged 14 and 15 are not tried publicly by the people's court; and in general, criminal cases of persons aged 16 and 17 are not tried publicly. Before a criminal case of a teenager is judged, it is stipulated that the press, films, TV programs and public publications should not reveal the teenager's name, home address, photo and other identifying data.
To truly protect children's rights and interests, China's legislation, judicial and government departments concerned as well as mass organizations have set up corresponding mechanisms to supervise, effect and propel the healthy development of the work impacting children's protection.
As the highest organ of state power in China, the National People's Congress (NPC) has a Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs responsible for legislation for the protection of women and children's rights and interests and for the supervision and check-up of law enforcement. This committee has a special group for women and children staed with full-time working personnel. The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has a Subcommittee on Social and Legislative Aairs, one of whose responsibilities is to supervise and promote the implementation of the state's laws and regulations on women, youth and children and raise proposals on work in this regard to the state's legislation and administrative departments.
The State Council of China has set up the Work Committee for Women and Children, which consists of responsible persons from the concerned government departments and mass organizations, and a state councilor who serves as chairperson. This committee has as its tasks to coordinate and promote the governmental departments concerned with implementing the Outline of the Program for Chinese Children's Development in the 1990s; and harmonize and propel these departments to do practical things for women and children. Both the central and local government departments involving education, pub"ilic health, culture, public security, physical culture and civil administration have set up functional organs to take charge of the work for children. The provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have set up committees on women and children's aairs or juvenile protection committees to organize and guide the work of protecting local children's rights and interests. Some mass organizations also perform many tasks to guarantee the development of the work concerning children in China.
To promote international cooperation in the protection of children, the Chinese Government and society at large have taken an active part in global and regional international cooperation and exchanges regarding children's survival, protection and development while devoting themselves to this cause in a down-to-earth and effective manner. In recent years, China has achieved great success through cooperating with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in its work to protect children. In this regard, China has been highly praised by international organizations and authoritative persons in the child protection field.
Chinese Premier Li Peng, on behalf of the Chinese Government, signed the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and the Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s (both adopted by the World Summit for Children in 1990), which represent a solemn promise made to several hundred million Chinese children as well as to the international community. China actively participated in working out the UN Convention on the Rights of Children. When the convention was examined and approved at the 44th Session of the UN General Assembly in 1989, China was one of the co-sponsor countries that raised the draft resolution for the approval of the convention. On December 29, 1990, China formally signed the convention. The following year, the NPC approved the convention, which formally became effective in China as of April 1, 1992. The convention is a universally applicable standard worked out by the international community for the protection of children's rights. The Chinese Government has undertaken and conscientiously fullled the obligations specied in the convention.
The Chinese Government and various circles in Chinese society have paid great attention to the health and care of its children. Much painstaking work has been done in protecting children's lives and health. As a result of these efforts, remarkable success has been achieved.
Birth and Death
In 1995, China's birthrate was 17.12 per thousand and 20.63 million children were born, the natural growth rate being 10.55 per thousand.
The mortality of children under five years old is an important indication of the situation of children in a country. According to a national maternity and child-care monitoring report in 1994, the infant mortality of China decreased to 37.79 per thousand from 200 per thousand in the early 1950s and the mortality rate for children under five years old to 46.74 per thousand. From 1950 to 1980, the annual decrease rate of China's infant mortality was above five percent, higher than the annual decrease rate (2.5 percent) of the average infant mortality of developing countries in the same period and also higher than that (4.6 percent) of developed countries. In the 1990s, the annual rate of decrease of infant mortality in China is 6.50 percent and that of children under five years old is 5.85 percent. So far, no other country in the world enjoying an annual per capita income approximate to China has reached such a high level.
In order to realize the global strategic target whereby everybody would enjoy health care by the year 2000, a maternity and child hygiene service system commensurate with its national conditions has been established in China and a three-level network of medical treatment, prevention and health care has been developed in its rural and urban areas, providing health care and planned immunity services for children.
Using vaccines for children is an economical and effective way for preventing epidemic diseases and reducing children's deathrate. From the 1950s, China began to popularize the bovine vaccine and in the early 1960s, smallpox, an infectious disease seriously endangering children's health, was eliminated. After the 1960s, China began to inoculate BCG, pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, measles and poliomyelitis vaccines. In the 1970s, activities for immunity from diseases were carried out during winters and springs; and in 1978 work on planned immunity for children was started on a nationwide scale. All this has led to a great drop in the incidence of the relevant infectious diseases and the mortality from such diseases.
In the 1980s, readily responding to the proposal of the WHO to expand the country's immunity program, China unified children's immunity procedures, initiated the system of issuing inoculation certificates, established the Specialists Committee for Planned Immunity and strengthened technical guidance for planned immunity work. At the same time, China cooperated with the UNICEF in the cold chain development, carrying work in this respect further.
In 1985, the Chinese Government announced officially that its target for immunizing children would be realized in two steps, i.e. the inoculation rate of children would be 85 percent by 1988, counted at the provincial level, and again 85 percent by 1990, counted at the county level. In 1989 and 1991, the UNICEF, the WHO and the Ministry of Public Health of China jointly carried out two evaluations of China's work of planned immunity. The results showed that China had fulfilled, on schedule, its target on children's immunity and the inoculation rate of various vaccines was over 90 percent, counted at the county level.
In order to eliminate poliomyelitis, while strengthening regular work on immunity and the monitoring of poliomyelitis, China performed nationwide six rounds of reinforced inoculations on children under four years old, on December 5 and January 5 separately in each of the three years 1993-96, each round involving about 80 million children. In this way the timetable for eliminating poliomyelitis has been shortened.
Since the implementation of China's immunization program, great achievements have been made and the incidence of infectious diseases has sharply declined. A national report on the country's epidemic situation reveals that the number of cases of measles, diphtheria, pertussis and poliomyelitis in 1994 dropped by 96.4, 99.4, 99.3 and 97.5 percent respectively compared with 1978; the death rate decreased by 97.4, 99.3, 96.5 and 97.7 percent respectively. In 1994, the number of incidences of the above-mentioned four epidemic diseases fell by about 3.517 million and the number of deaths by about 13,000 as compared with 1978. In 1995, only one strain of a wild virus was found in the stool of a child suffering from poliomyelitis who came from abroad to Yunnan for medical treatment. No other poliomyelitis wild viruses were found in Acute Flaccid Paralysis cases.
China's immunization achievements have been highly praised by the international community. On October 16, 1989, a silver medal was awarded to the Chinese Health and Antiepidemic Department of the Ministry of Public Health by the then UNICEF executive director, James P.Grant, to commend China's achievements made in children's immunity work. On November 24, 1994 and August 8, 1995, Dr Hiroshi Nakajima, Director General of the WHO, and Dr S.T.Han, Director of Western Pacific Regional Office of the WHO, successively wrote letters to Li Peng, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, and Qiao Shi, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, in which they spoke highly of these achievements and, on behalf of the WHO, expressed their great satisfaction with China's work in eliminating poliomyelitis. They held that China had played an important role in the world public health field.
China considers reducing children's mortality caused by pneumonia and diarrhoea as an important and urgent task of its medical and health work for children. For this purpose the Chinese Ministry of Public Health has formulated the National Plan on Controlling Infection Children's Respiratory Tract (1992-95) and the Plan on Controlling Diarrhoea (1990-94) and implemented a series of measures, such as popularizing proper techniques, personnel training, health education and monitoring systems. These have all served to reduce infant mortality, especially rural infant mortality. Management projects on standard AIR cases had been expanded to 53 counties in 24 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and diarrhoea control projects had covered 17 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities by 1994. And at the same time, 360,000 township and village doctors from 300 poor counties have been trained on managing standard AIR cases and controlling diarrhoea.
Before 1949, tetanus was one of the main causes of death in China's newborn babies. Health centers for women and children were set up throughout China from the 1950s to the 1960s and new methods for child delivery as a major measure for controlling puerperal fever and tetanus neonatorum have been crowned with remarkable success. In 1993, the Ministry of Public Health of China put forward a new task to further reduce infant mortality caused by tetanus, so as to meet the 2000 international standard for eliminating tetanus. In 1995, the Ministry of Public Health promulgated the National Action Plan on Eliminating Tetanus Neonatorum. Basing on data gathered from investigation and monitoring, it designated areas highly susceptible to tetanus neonatorum attacks and, while continuing to popularize the new methods of child delivery and encourage hospital childbirths, strove to rapidly develop immunization work among women of childbearing age.
China has paid great attention to improving children's nutritional status and various medical and health measures have been adopted. In the early period after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the government handed out infant foodstuffs in some areas. From the 1960s to the 1970s, a scientific diet for children was popularized in China. The nutritional status of Chinese children has gradually improved since the supplementary food was developed in the 1980s and since breastfeeding was advocated and dietary scheme was optimized in the 1990s. Now it is rare to find cases of serious malnutrition caused by shortage of food or cases of serious vitamin-A deficiency.
Since the 1980s, a chart has been used in some areas of China to monitor children's natural growth and a community nutrition monitoring program introduced. If something abnormal is detected by such monitorings, timely guidance and treatment are given. Experience has proved that this is a proper method to maintain the health of children.
In response to the proposals of the WHO and UNICEF, various activities to promote breastfeeding and build "baby friendly hospitals" have been developed. China planned to bring the breastfeeding rate on the provincial level up to 80 percent by the year 2000 as a major target for the Outline of the Program for Chinese Children's Development in the 1990s and it also promised to build 1,000 "baby friendly hospitals" by 1995. To this end, the Ministry of Public Health issued the Notice on Strengthening the Work on Breastfeeding in May management of the sale of mother's milk substitutes, so as to impose restrictions on the sale of such substitutes. Under the leadership of governments at various levels, a "baby friendly program" with the establishment of baby friendly hospitals as the main part was carried out in a big way. By the end of 1995, 2,957 baby friendly hospitals had been constructed, ranking first in number in the world-a significant contribution to the world baby friendly program. These efforts have won for China the high opinion of the UNICEF and WHO.
At the same time, in order to improve the level of medical treatment and health care and the nutritional status of children in rural areas, measures for promoting the building of township clinics, county antiepidemic stations and county health centers for women and children have been adopted by the state. Since 1991, 300 million yuan from central finance has been allocated and 8.65 billion yuan from local financial administrations, collective economy and peasants had been pooled for input that direction. By the end of 1994, the conditions at 36 percent of the township clinics, 29.8 percent of the county antiepidemic stations and 27.7 percent of the county health centers for women and children have been improved by various degrees.
Investigations show that childer's nutritional status in China has improved considerably. Compared with 1990, the rate of malnutrition in children under five years old dropped by 23.82 percent in 1995, fulfilling, ahead of the time, the medium-term target envisaged in the Outline of the Program for Chinese Children's Development in the 1990s.
The Chinese Government always gives pride of place to children's education in the promotion of education in general. Thanks to the mutual efforts made by the government and society, children's education in China has seen great progress in the past few years, with many indexes higher than those of other developing countries and some indexes close to those of developed countries.
Vigorously Increase Input in Education
In recent years, China has established an educational fund-raising system, whereby financial allocations are the predominant source, with funds collected through other channels as a supplement. It is stipulated that the increase of allocations for education by the central and local governments should be higher than the increase of regular revenue, thus ensuring a year-by-year increase of average educational appropriations for every student.
According to statistics, in 1994 China spent 59.4 billion yuan on primary education, with operating expenses for public use averaging 89.47 yuan per student; 43.5 billion yuan was spent on ordinary middle schools, with operating expenses for public use averaging 239.89 yuan per student.
The Chinese Government pays great attention to educational development in remote and poor areas, as well as areas inhabited by national minorities. Since the 1980s, the state has appropriated school aid for the popularization of primary education, and subsidies for developing vocational education, normal education and education for national minorities. The State Education Commission and the Ministry of Finance have decided that in 1995-2000, the special funds allocated by the central government for the popularization of compulsory education, plus the supporting money provided by the local governments, should be used to implement the National Compulsory Education Project in Poor Areas. It is estimated that over 10 billion yuan will be put into the project. The money will be used mainly to improve conditions in primary schools and junior middle schools in poor areas.
China has been making great efforts in raising educational funds through various channels. According to incomplete statistics, during 1991-94, it collected a total of 33.8 billion yuan for primary and middle schools to buy more and better quality teaching aids, books and reference materials, sports requisites and campus facilities.
Develop Preschool Education
Mobilizing the whole society to develop preschool education in vari"ious forms and channels and encouraging not only government institutions and enterprises but also mass organizations and individuals to open kindergartens in light of relevant regulations--this is one of the principles adopted by China in developing preschool education. In recent years, due to the vigorous support and active participation of governments at all levels and society at large, China's preschool education has been developing steadily. A new era has dawned in which kindergartens are run by the state, the collectives and the individuals together. By 1995 China had 180,000 kindergartens, with an enrollment of 27.1123 million children. In all, 42.2 percent of children aged 3-5 years old go to kindergartens. In urban areas, full-time kindergarten is the dominant form of preschool education, with the boarding system and preschool classes as a supplement; in rural areas where the local economy is better-developed, central kindergartens can be found in every township and preschool classes in every village. In backward countryside, mountain and pastoral areas, which are remote and sparsely populated, while endeavoring to create conditions for running preschool classes, people are opening children's activities stations, games groups, mobile groups giving children guidance, and other nonregular forms of preschool education.
Higher Enrollment Ratio for Children of School Age
Popularization of compulsory nine-year schooling is the key goal of China's elementary education program. Thanks to the government's effort and powerful support from society, in 1995 the number of children attending primary school reached 131.95 million, with an enrollment rate of 98.5 percent for children of school age. In addition, only 1.49 percent of the students discontinued their studies and 90.8 percent of the primary school graduates entered a higher school. According to China's present standard on popularization of compulsory primary schooling, elementary education has been basically popularized in areas covering 91 percent of the country's population. UNESCO statistics show that the enrollment ratio of school-age children in China is much higher than in other countries of the same economic development level.
Education for girls is a key problem which faces developing countries in the field of children's education. When New China was firstly founded, the country's enrollment rate of girls was only 15 percent. The Chinese Government later took many measures so that great progress was made in education for girls and the gap between enrollment rates of boys and girls was reduced year by year. China therefore has solved a problem which remains unsolved in many other developing countries. According to statistics, in 1995 the enrollment ratio of school-age girls in primary schools was 98.2 percent, only 0.7 percentage point lower than that of boys; girl students accounted for 47.3 percent of total primary school enrollment.
Help for Children Unable to Go to School
In China's poor areas there are children unable to go on to school because of poverty. Governments at all levels have incorporated help for children from poor families to enter school in their help-the-poor programs and, at the same time, have taken various measures to help them return to school. In the mean time, thanks to the concern of and vigorous promotion by the government, people from all walks of life have been helping these children, enabling them to enjoy the fundamental right to education.
In October 1989, the China Youth Development Foundation initiated the Hope Project in Beijing. It provides grants-in-aid as long-term financial assistance to children in poor areas who dropped out of school because of straitened family circumstances, thus enabling them to return to school. In some poor rural areas, it also helps build or repair schoolhouses and buy teaching aids, stationery and books. It has sponsored the ''One Million People's Love Movement'' and the ''1 (family) + 1 (dropout) Help Movement,'' mobilizing the entire society to help dropouts return to school. By the end of 1995, the Hope Project had raised 690 million yuan, given financial assistance to 1.25 million children for continuing primary education and subsidized construction of over 2,000 Hope Project primary schools.
The China Children's Foundation began to carry out the Spring Buds Program in 1989. It established a special fund to help girls enter school, enabling girls in poor areas to receive charge-free compulsory primary education. In total, the Spring Buds Program helped 100,000 girls return to school in 1994 and 1995.
China has all along attached great importance to protecting disabled children, making great efforts to create favorable conditions for their survival and development.
Protection of Disabled Children's Rights and Interests
The Chinese Government has devoted much attention to guaranteeing the rights and interests of disabled children. Among children aged 14 and under, there are over 9 million disabled, accounting for 2.66 percent of children of the same age group in China. The Chinese Constitution and relevant laws contain clear statements regarding the rights and interests of the disabled, including disabled children. The Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons contains all-inclusive, systematic provisions guaranteeing the legitimate rights and interests of the disabled. It states clearly that the disabled enjoy equal rights with other citizens in all spheres: political, economic, cultural, social and family life; that discrimination, insult and harassment against the disabled are prohibited; that the state should develop disability prevention programs; and that the rights of the disabled to rehabilitation, education, labor, entertainment and welfare should be protected. While all these provisions also apply to disabled children, the law includes specific statements on special protection of disabled children.
In order to protect rights and interests of the disabled and promote their cause, the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF), an organization that represents the disabled, serves their interests and administrates the work concerning the disabled, has been established with the approval of the Chinese Government. One of its principal tasks is to protect the lawful rights and interests of disabled children. Also, local disabled persons' federations at the provincial (autonomous regional and municipal), prefectural and county levels have been established to serve the disabled, including disabled children in the region, and administrate their affairs.
Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation
Following the policy of putting prevention rst, the Chinese Government has adopted a series of measures to prevent children's congenital disability.
China has expended great eorts in strengthening the immunization program and in planned, large-scale replenishment of iodine for children. In order to further control endemic diseases and curb environmental pollution, it has taken effective measures such as replenishing iodine, improving soil and purifying water in regions where goiter, cretinism and Kaschin-Beck disease are rampant. The Marriage Law, the Law on Health Protection of Mothers and Infants and relevant regulations for preventing congenital disability have been strictly implemented by governments and medical and health institutions at all levels. In order to curb harmful heredity and improve prenatal, birthing and postnatal education and administration, services like premarital check-ups and education, prenatal examinations, heredity consultancy, birthing-process care, mother-baby care and early education have been strengthened.
The Chinese Government has expended great efforts and attained remarkable achievements in helping disabled children recover maximum health and in enhancing their abilities to participate in social life.
China has actively developed the ''Three Recoveries'' program (rectifying polio sequelae, training deaf children in hearing and speech and performing cataract operations). By the end of 1995, China had rectified 360,000 children of polio sequelae (a success rate of 98 percent), helped more than 60,000 deaf children recover their hearing and speech abilities (10 percent of which had entered regular kindergartens and elementary schools to receive regular education), had provided 30,000 poor-sighted children with sight aids and helped 100,000 mentally retarded children enhance their cognitive capacity and self-suciency. At present, China has established the National Rehabilitation Research Center for Deaf Children, in addition to 26 provincial-level rehabilitation centers for deaf children and over 1,000 rehabilitation stations, kindergartens and training classes for disabled children.
Community rehabilitation service systems for disabled children also have been set up. China has fully used the urban-rural three-level network of health services to develop community rehabilitation, helping most disabled children in grassroots areas enjoy basic rehabilitation services. Moreover, under the leadership of local governments at different levels, community rehabilitation leading groups have been founded, consisting of public health departments, civil administration departments, disabled persons' federations and other relevant departments, which coordinate and cooperate with each other to mutually formulate community rehabilitation plans and manage their implementation.
In 1982, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs started to cooperate with the UNICEF in the Community Rehabilitation for Disabled Children project. By the end of 1994, the rehabilitation network for disabled children covered 32 cities and counties in 23 provinces of the country and systematically trained disabled children's parents and rehabilitation instructors. These efforts were successful in effectively improving the management of the rehabilitation work for disabled children.
Education for Disabled Children
Regarding disabled children's education, the Education Law, the Compulsory Education Law, the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons and the Regulations for Disabled Persons' Education clearly and completely state the duties, characteristics, guiding principles of development, channels for running schools and methods of instruction, etc. According to relevant laws and regulations, the education of disabled children is compulsory.
After years of efforts, China has formed a compulsory education set-up for disabled children, which takes special-education schools as the backbone and special-education classes attached to, and attendance of individual disabled students in, ordinary schools as the main body. By the end of 1995, China had set up 1,379 special-education schools for the disabled, an increase of 400 percent over 1980; there were also 6,510 special-education classes attached to ordinary schools with 296,000 disabled students (including those attending regular schools), an increase of 800 percent over 1980. In 1995 the national average school enrollment rate of blind, deaf and mentally retarded children reached 60 percent; in the economically developed areas enrollment reached 80 percent.
The Chinese Government has done a great deal of work to mobilize various circles in society to care for, in various manners, the development of disabled children, to greatly encourage the spirit of unceasing self-improvement among disabled children and to advocate the social virtues of unity, friendship and mutual aid. The Chinese media actively reports on the life conditions of disabled children and the work concerning the disabled. Virtually all radio and TV stations offer specific programs for disabled children, compounded with sign language and captions. To create a favorable social environment for disabled children's survival and development, China has worked out and gradually implemented Standards for the Design of Urban Roads and Buildings for the Disabled's Convenience, which require obstacle-free structures when municipal works and various buildings are constructed.
Since 1991, the Chinese Government has legally established National Helping-the-Disabled Day on the third Sunday in May every year. Children actively take part in Young Pioneers Helping the Disabled activities while young people enthusiastically participate in Volunteers Helping the Disabled activities. Meantime, the broad masses of people all over the country also widely participate in various activities to help the disabled. Closely looked after by the government, disabled children have also been receiving many types of help and services from various circles in society.
China's welfare homes for children play a special role in the country's efforts to care for children. The welfare homes and some social welfare institutions that also accept orphans oer guardianship and rearing mainly to children who have lost their parents during natural disasters or accidents, and also to those abandoned by their parents because they are seriously or almost irremediably disabled mentally or physically, or because they have contracted a serious illness. Currently, there are about 20,000 such children under the guardianship and rearing of welfare institutions, accounting for five per one hundred thousand of the total number of juveniles in China.
Rearing Under Guardianship
In China, such rearing and emplacement of orphans or children abandoned for physical disability are under the charge of civil administration departments.
These are the ways that orphans are reared under guardianship in China: social welfare institutions set up by the government or collectives oer guardianship and rearing to some of the orphans till their adult age and give life support to idiotic and seriously disabled orphans under their care; some orphans are brought up in citizens' homes under the guardianship of welfare institutions; some orphans are adopted by domestic citizens and a small number by foreign citizens according to relevant laws.
By the end of 1995, there were a total of 73 welfare homes for children set up by local governments, oering guardianship and rearing to 8,900 orphans and abandoned ill or disabled children. More than 1,200 social welfare institutions in urban areas and some homes for the aged in rural areas have also oered guardianship and rearing to orphans and abandoned ill or disabled children. Some orphans and abandoned ill or disabled children are under the care of or legally adopted by common people. Moreover, there are a total of nearly ten thousand organizations serving orphans and disabled persons in communities throughout China, such as schools for orphans, rehabilitation centers, training classes for mentally retarded children, rehabilitation stations for disabled children and community rehabilitation stations, as well as about a hundred social welfare institutions established by individuals or organizations.
Apart from welfare institutions set up by the government and the society to take care of orphans and abandoned children, China encourages citizens to adopt these children so that they can enjoy a normal family life and grow up sound of body and mind. In order to protect legal adoption and the legal rights of the persons concerned, and to benefit the care and growth of adopted juveniles, the NPC Standing Committee of China stipulated the Adoption Law. According to this law, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, with the approval of the State Council, published for implementation the Procedures for the Adoption of Children by Foreigners in the People's Republic of China. The adoption of orphans in China has laws to go by and is in full accord with the principles put forward by the United Nations in the Convention on the Rights of Children.
All adoption procedures are done strictly according to law. Both Chinese citizens and foreigners shall meet the conditions required by law and go through all necessary procedures. While handling the adoption procedures for the person concerned, the related departments of the Chinese Government charge the fees strictly according to law. As required by law, the adoptor shall pay to the welfare home the cost for upbringing of the adoptee, which will then be used to improve living conditions for other children in the institution. This cost is determined mainly through negotiations between the two parties.
Most of the funds for China's welfare homes for children come from appropriations by state and local financial departments (the funds being budgeted as full operating expenses for welfare homes in the financial report of each year), supplemented by other means, such as collective fund raising, welfare lotteries and donations. From 1990 to 1994, local financial departments had appropriated a total of 515 million yuan directly to urban welfare homes for children (of this total, 40 percent being used directly for the livelihood of the children), at an annual increase rate of 25.5 percent, thus guaranteeing the basic needs of the children. During this period, the state appropriated 740 million yuan specially for the improvement of welfare homes for children, including 240 million yuan raised from welfare lotteries published by central and local governments, 150 million yuan from local financial departments and 350 million yuan from donations.
The funds received by each welfare home around the country are different due to the various levels of economic development in each area. In economically developed areas, the average expense per child per month is 400 to 500 yuan while in the less developed areas, the amount is 200 to 300 yuan. Living expense of the children in the welfare homes is usually no lower than that of local citizens, in view of the fact that prices are comparatively low in China.
China's welfare homes for children have adopted a fairly complete, systematic administrative system. The system requires that the children shall be under a two to three month observation period before they are accepted. During the observation period the related departments search for the child's parents or confirm his or her identification while at the same time the child is given a comprehensive physical examination and isolation is practiced on children suffering from infectious diseases. The system also requires that there shall be a certain number of specialized personnel in each welfare home -- the specialized personnel in first-level state welfare homes shall account for above 70 percent, and in second-level, above 65 percent, of the total welfare home staff. Each welfare home for children has drawn up strict rules and regulations concerning every aspect of internal management and of the children's lives -- upbringing, nursing, medical care, rehabilitation, scientific research, community rehabilitation, training, and supporting service.
To supervise the implementation of these administrative procedures, the civil affairs departments have carried out regular inspections. Units that perform well are commended and those units or individuals who seriously violate regulations are penalized.
The Principle of Combining Upbringing, Treatment and Education
The welfare homes for children in China practice the principle of combining upbringing, treatment and education.
Due to the special care given to China's helpless orphans and abandoned ill or disabled children, many of them have grown up and found jobs. With help from the government and people from all circles, the more than 4,200 orphans left in the 1976 Tangshan earthquake -- from a few months to 16 years old, except for those adopted by their relatives -- were all settled in the Xingtai Welfare Home for Children and at orphans' schools in Tangshan and Shijiazhuang. Most of their living and study expenses were borne by the state. In October 1995, Wang An, the last ''Tangshan earthquake orphan,'' left the welfare home that had oered him guardianship and rearing to work in a hospital. The Jilin Provincial Welfare Home for Children in Changchun has brought up 2,478 orphans since its establishment 38 years ago.
When they come to welfare homes, most children are suffering from serious illness or inherent disabilities. Welfare homes have paid much attention to treating these children to the most degree. Ill or disabled children in serious condition are sent to local hospitals for better treatment. In 1995, the number of the children nursed back to health exceeded 200. Welfare homes for children boast doctors, rehabilitators, nutritionists, as well as clinics, rehabilitation rooms, emergency treatment rooms, laboratories and pharmacies, giving timely treatment to ailing children. With help from the government and from people in all walks of life, many welfare homes own fairly advanced medical equipment to meet the basic needs of their children. At present, China has a professional staff who are devoted to the well-being of orphans and disabled children; medical personnel account for 32 percent of the total welfare home staff.
Since 1995, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Pub"ilic Health have jointly launched health projects for disabled orphans throughout the country. Under the project, large hospitals give free hospitalization to orphans who need to undergo operations, and charge half of the normal surgical operation and treatment fees. Disabled children in welfare homes take part in various rehabilitation training programs, and some of them have recovered or basically recovered from disability.
At welfare homes, children with normal intelligence, no matter if they are physically handicapped or not, receive compulsory education like other children. Blind, deaf and mentally retarded children are sent to special education schools. In addition, the state has set up over 30 schools especially for orphans. These schools educate children according to their physical and mental abilities and characteristics; some schools even combine compulsory education with vocational education to enhance the students' career opportunities. For seriously disabled children, every welfare home has set up a special education class that teaches self-sufficiency. In 1989, the government established a separate fund for special education. In 1995, the fund totalled 23 million yuan, of which 1.1 million yuan was appropriated to special education classes at welfare homes.
Mass Movements to Help Orphans
The Chinese Government encourages activities to help orphans and has called upon the whole society to show concern for orphans. In recent years, mass movements to help orphans have blossomed.
-- A mass campaign encouraging kindness to orphans is now wide"ispread and volunteers are numerous. In Shanghai and Beijing, campaigns such as ''Let kind-hearted people give orphans a big hug,'' ''Offer your affections to orphans and disabled children and bring health to them,'' ''Help orphans in every way'' and ''Link your hearts to orphans' hearts'' are enthusiastically responded to by people from all walks of life. In these campaigns, many urban families take children from children's welfare institutions and let them stay in their homes during holidays or at ordinary times so that these children can enjoy the warmth and affection of a family.
-- The China Charity Federation was established to promote charities and extensively collect donations. By the end of 1995, the China Charity Federation had recruited 44 local organizations throughout China as group members and it had collected donations of over 100 million yuan. A considerable amount of the money was used to support orphans in vocational trainings and perform corrective surgical operations on disabled children.
-- People from all walks of life show much concern for children's welfare institutions. They donate money and materials to help the institutions improve their conditions. This allows the institutions to improve the quality of their care and education. Welfare funds for orphans have been established in Qingdao, Shandong Province, Cele County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and other places. In 1994 and 1995 the Shanghai Municipal Welfare Home for Children received 4.4 million yuan in donations. At present, 8,000 orphans throughout China are financially supported in their school education.
-- Individuals are becoming ever more enthusiastic about running children's welfare homes and non-governmental welfare homes are on the increase. In Guangzhou the number of beds in social welfare institutions run by individuals now account for 10 percent of all social welfare institution beds.
China has made great efforts to support the survival, protection and development of children. The UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO and other international organizations and public figures all made positive comments on China's achievements in this connection. Of course, the Chinese Government is sober about the fact that since China is a developing country with a large population and since its economic foundation is still comparatively weak, its per capita income is in a rather rear position in the world per capita income listings and its development level is unbalanced between city and countryside and between different areas, there is much difficulty in the work for children and therefore much room for improvement. Take medical care for children, for example. The incidence of disease among children in the countryside is high and in some poor areas children's nutrition is below the normal level. As for children's education, the teaching conditions in some outlying and poor areas are not up to par and the phenonmenon of primary and middle school children discontinuing their studies still exists. As for the protection of disabled children, the state is not able to amass in a short period enough money to fully satisfy the actual needs in the protection of these children. Since the level of economic development varies from area to area, some welfare homes are better run than others with economic diculties. Therefore, as China develops economically and socially, an important task facing the Chinese Government is to constantly improve children's conditions and promote activities and programs to help children. The Chinese Government will continue to work persistently toward this end, as it has done in the past, and the cause of children will surely develop further as a result.
The Description and Accusations About China's Children's Welfare Institutions by Britain's Channel Four and the Human Rights Watch/Asia Do Not Hold Water
The British commercial television station Channel Four broadcast ''Secret Asia, the Dying Rooms'' on June 14, 1995, and ''Return to the Dying Rooms'' (a refurbished version of the former) on January 9, 1996. Using clumsy tricks, the programs stated that in China's children's welfare homes there were dying rooms where children were abused to death. An investigation proved that the so-called dying rooms in the program ''Secret Asia, the Dying Rooms'' refer actually to a warehouse in the Huangshi City Social Welfare Home in Hubei Province and that the major part of the program is fabricated.
Kate Blewett, producer of the program, and others visited the Huangshi welfare home, disguising themselves as staff members of the American Children's Fund. After Blewett, et al arrived, recalled Liu Qiuliang, nurse of the welfare home, she found one of the foreigners, a man, filming in a warehouse at the back of the courtyard. At that time, there were some old beds in that warehouse and some other articles were lying around. The cameraman untied the articles, spread them on the bed and began to shoot. Liu came to the warehouse and asked him what he was doing. He just grunted and came out. This is the warehouse which was later labeled as the ''dying rooms'' in the television program. The ''Dying Rooms'' claimed that in 1994 more than 80 children died in that house. This is sheer fabrication. The welfare home's statistics record and the list of children taken in or identified and adopted shows that there were 161 children in the institution in 1994 and 128 were adopted later in the year. How come more than 80 children died? Claiming that the empty beds formerly used by children who were later adopted or identified and so left the welfare home were the beds of dead children and further referring to the warehouse as the ''dying rooms'' is deliberate distortion of facts.
The ''Dying Rooms'' recounted a story about a ''nameless,'' seriously ill child who was left unattended without any medical treatment, waiting for death. The shots were taken by Blewett and others at Duanzhou District Welfare Home, Zhaoqing City, Guangdong Province. As far as we know, the sick child was found on February 20, 1995 on the street by someone from a local police station; the child was then sent to the welfare home. The child was seriously ill when admitted to the welfare home, and the welfare home immediately gave the child medical treatment. Yang Jinying, the nurse who was responsible for looking after the ''nameless'' child, said that after Blewett and others entered the sick child's room, they told Yang to stay outside. Contrary to fact, the television program claimed that nurses hardly ever went into that room. It was winter and after Blewett and company entered the room, they removed the sick child's warm cotton-batting quilt and unbuttoned the latter's clothes. Yang tried to stop them. She said that it was cold and the child was sick. But Blewett said it did not matter. Wearing a fur coat, Blewett had the sick child stripped to the waist and shot for 15 to 20 minutes. After they finished shooting, they left the child undressed and didn't even cover the latter with the quilt. The sick child later died despite medical treatment. By playing up the condition of the sick child, Blewett and others intended to say that girls were systematically abused to death in the welfare homes. Using wanton fabrication to cheat and mislead viewers cannot but arouse indignation among the people.
The ''Dying Rooms'' made up another ''miserable story'' about a woman's forced abortion. It said that when the police were informed that a certain woman was pregnant with her second child (without having obtained prior permission), she was forced to have an abortion and a sterilization operation. The facts are as follows: The woman, named Xie Lianfeng, lives in Jinyang Village, Yangshuo, Guangxi. Blewett and company followed Xie's mother-in-law to Xie's home and asked Xie how many children she had. When Xie told them she had a boy and a girl, Blewett and others asked if she could have any more children. Xie answered, ''I had a ligation of the oviduct. I cannot bear children now.'' Xie said that she had never had an abortion, nor had her two sisters-in-law who lived with her. When the kind-hearted and honest Xie was told how Blewett, et al distorted her story, she said furiously, ''They are talking rubbish!''
Jiang Zhenghua, council member of the IUSSP, pointed out, ''As far as what we have seen is concerned, of the many things described in the telefilm some are sheerly concocted out of thin air and some are distortions. I felt strange when I saw the film. How could an institution which parades professional ethics for news coverage have produced such a film. Many of my scholar friends are also furious about the film.''
Britt-Marie Nygren, chief executive of the Family Association for Intercountry Adoption, Sweden, said, ''We were furious after we watched this film. There are 130 families in our association that have visited China and adopted children there. Many of them think that this film is an unjust report on China's welfare homes....I have visited many countries and seen their institutions responsible for adoption, so I can compare the conditions at institutions in different countries. That's why I reacted that way to this film's unjust reporting of the situation in China's welfare homes.''
Blewett and others may fabricate lies to cheat some people for sometime, but not for a long time. China, which has opened its door to the outside world, now receives millions of foreign visitors every year. They have opportunities to see the true situation, one which is completely contrary to what's described in the ''Dying Rooms.''
The Human Rights Watch/Asia made a gratuitous accusation in its report, published on January 7, 1996, on the situation of children's welfare homes in China. Many parts of the report are cooked up based on distorted and exaggerated matters.
The censure of the report on the ''maltreatment'' of disabled children by the Shanghai Municipal Welfare Home for Children is not based on facts. The Shanghai children's welfare home is a social welfare charity institution directed by the Shanghai Municipal Government. The institution now oers guardianship and rearing to more than 500 children, most of whom are disabled, including over 100 disabled children entrusted to its care by the society. It has a staff of 320 members, including 42 medical personnel, 23 teachers and 220 nurses. The orphans in the welfare home receive food, medical treatment and education. Regarding the food supply for the orphans, the emphasis is placed on nutrition and nursing; the food menu, designed to meet the needs of growing children, is worked out by a nutritionist according to the physical conditions and ages of the orphans. As a result, the nutritional status of the children is good overall. With regard to medical care and rehabilitation, the welfare home has set up an in-patient department and a children's rehabilitation center. Sick children are taken care of in the welfare home or sent to larger hospitals in the city for treatment, and physical check-ups are conducted for those recovered from illness twice a year. Those who are suitable for rectification are sent to the city's major hospitals to receive the operation. In the last two years 87 disabled children have received surgical operations. Rehabilitative training has been practiced on children suffering from impaired or abnormal motion, with the recovery rate reaching 90 percent.
In education, school-age children with physical deformities but normal mental conditions are sent, at the welfare home's expense, to study in ordinary primary or middle schools, while the blind and deaf-mutes are sent to special schools. There are 32 children who study outside the welfare home. In order to strengthen their education, two teachers are designated to instruct and take care of them after class. In addition, funded by the public, the welfare home has set up a school with 2,500 square meters of floor space and a sportsground of 1,200 square meters to provide the orphaned and disabled children who can not go out to study in ordinary schools with an excellent education environment. Judging from the above, the legal rights of the disabled in the Shanghai children's welfare home are well protected.
The Human Rights Watch/Asia said many parts of its report were written according to data provided by a woman named Zhang Shuyun. It was learned, after investigation, that Zhang Shuyun came to the Shanghai Municipal Welfare Home for Children in September 1988 to work as a laboratory tech"inician for testing liver functions; she left the job in June 1993. During her time there she was criticized a great deal by her leaders for not setting her mind to her work and for disobedience regarding her work arrangement. For this, she harbored resentment and, while she was still an employee of the institution, resorted to fabricating a story about the ''problems'' that existed in the welfare home. After a careful investigation, the allegations present in her report were refuted by the relevant department in Shanghai, but she still quibbled over it, continuing to make up and spread rumors about the leaders of the welfare home and launching personal attacks against them. Dozens of staff members expressed their indignation and jointly criticized her several times. When the party concerned in the matter brought a lawsuit to the court, Zhang Shuyun resigned her post and left for the United States via Hong Kong. In the United States, Zhang continued her prevaricating, spewing stories slandering the work in the Shanghai children's welfare home. Obviously, she did all this with ulterior motives. How can people give credence to the materials provided by such a person for the purpose of slandering China's welfare institutions?
The Human Rights Watch/Asia in its report plays up the photograph of a sick child, claiming the death of the child was caused by his being maltreated in the welfare home. It was learned, after investigation, that the child, given the name of Jianxun by the welfare home, suffered a serious illness caused by mental retardation; after he entered the welfare home, on February 24, 1988, he put on weight under meticulous care and medical treatment. Later, his illness deteriorated and affected the vomiting center, which caused frequent vomiting after feeding. As a result, the patient grew thinner and thinner, but the doctors still persevered in their efforts, feeding him milk and giving intravenous injections. However, because of the serious handicap in his assimilating function, the treatment ended in failure and he died on July 17, 1992. The patient's medical treatment and care can be documented by the medical records kept. Han Weicheng, who was the principal of the children's welfare home at that time and himself a physician with 11 years standing, states that Jianxun's malnutrition was caused by malabsorption resultant from diseases of the central nervous system, certainly not by starvation. That the death of Jianxun was due to deliberate starvation, as claimed by the Human Rights Watch/Asia and Zhang Shuyun, is just a story made up by them to cheat and fool the public.
As for the scene in the photograph where Jianxun's hands are tied up and his chest exposed: Zhou Zhuqing, the present principal, and Han Weicheng, the former principal, of the welfare home deny this ever occurred, pointing out that it would have been utterly illogical to treat Jianxun like that, as there was no need to take any protective, restraining measures on this patient, who was very weak; and there were no signs that he would take any actions to injure himself. Even if there was a case in which a patient needed to be restrained, it would be handled strictly by regular medical means. There has never been a case at the Shanghai children's welfare home in which a patient was tied up with ropes. This photograph was obviously arranged. An investigation into Zhang Shuyun's history shows that she was criticized by her leaders and colleagues at the Shanghai children's welfare home due to her work quality. Later it was found that she often directed one of the young orphans at the welfare home, Ai Ming, to take photographs for her in secret. Before taking pictures Ai Ming put sick children in special poses and asked two bigger children Zhan and Zhai to help him. Zhan later reported that the camera had been supplied by Zhang Shuyun and that Zhai had been told to help to unfasten the clothes of the sick children. Therefore, it is Zhang Shuyun who knows most clearly how the photograph published by the Human Rights Watch/Asia was produced. Would any upright and decent person adopt such despicable means and create such spurious stories and rumors?
The Human Rights Watch/Asia report also alleges that the Shanghai Municipal Welfare Home for Children maltreated their children by transferring dozens of the seriously sick orphans to the Shanghai Second Social Welfare Home on Chongming Island. The fact is that this occurred when the old houses of the children's welfare home needed large-scale renovation. As a result, some of the orphans were sent to the social welfare home temporarily, which was only normal. In fact, the same thing had happened before. Once, for instance, when the houses of a social welfare home for the aged in Shanghai needed major repair, some of the seniors there were transferred to the Shanghai Municipal Welfare Home for Children. Is this the maltreatment of children? The children in the Shanghai children's welfare home are transferred when they grow up at the age of 16. Some are sent out to take up jobs, while some, whose mental retardation prevents them from taking up jobs, are sent to four other welfare institutions in the city or on Chongming Island, the one on Chongming taking in more than those in Shanghai. Obviously, the claim that children with serious illnesses were sent to the social welfare home on Chongming Island, which is alleged in the Human Rights Watch/Asia report, is sheer nonsense.
The report also says that most of the funds slated for China's welfare homes for children are used as sta salaries and bonuses -- and only a small part is used for buying food, clothing and other daily necessities of the children. In fact, the sum for bringing up children in urban welfare institutions of various kinds in China allocated by China's financial departments at different levels in 1994, for instance, totalled 169 million yuan, of which about 40 percent was used for the living expenses of the orphans and disabled children; about 20 percent was spent on equipment maintenance, staff training and daily operating expenses; finally, about 40 percent was used for staff salaries and bonuses and for retirement pensions. From the above figures it can be clearly seen that the claim that most of the funds were used for salaries and bonuses is inaccurate. Moreover, the average monthly living expenses for each child in urban welfare institutions in 1994 was 281.7 yuan, while that for each urban citizen was 264.9 yuan. This shows that the average daily expense for each child in the welfare institutions for buying daily necessities was higher than that of each urban citizen. The accusation of the Human Rights Watch/Asia, therefore, has no ground to stand on.
On January 8, 1996, nearly 30 reporters from 20 news agencies from the United States, Britain, Germany and other countries went to visit the Shanghai Municipal Welfare Home for Children. There they were shown around and talked with some of its staff members for four hours. On January 25, officials from the consulates general in Shanghai of ten countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Japan, visited the Shanghai Second Social Welfare Home. Afterward, American reporters visited it too. What they saw and understood is completely different from that described in the report published by the Human Rights Watch/Asia. When faced with the facts, a lie is always nothing but a lie. Therefore, the description of China's welfare institutions and the accusations hurled at them in the Human Rights Watch/Asia report and the ''Dying Rooms'' telefilm shown by the British commercial TV station Channel Four inevitably have met with criticism and condemnation from people in the United States, Britain and many other countries.
China's children's welfare homes accept visitors and welcome the exchange of experiences as well as cooperation with other countries. Nearly every day people go to visit these institutions; some work as volunteers. It is neither reasonable nor responsible that governments and political figures in some countries should denounce the Chinese Government merely on the basis of the report cooked up and dished out by the Human Rights Watch/Asia.
Information Office of the State Council Of the People's Republic of China
April 1996, Beijing