The deaths of five boys in a dumpster in Bijie city, Guizhou province, last month has heightened concerns over the plight of China’s homeless children.
The five boy having no enough clothes took a dumpster as refuge to keep warm on a cold rainy night in Bijie city. An official investigation reported that they kept a fire burning inside the trash box to keep themselves warm, but died from carbon monoxide poisoning instead.
One month after the tragedy, officials that had been criticized for ignoring the plight and poor livelihood of children in their jurisdiction, after thoroughful introspection, attribute the boys' death to the street dumpsters and take counter measure: paint warnings on all the street dumpsters: “Entry forbidden for humans and animals; Violaters are at their own risk.”
But to their disappointment, their counter measure has not only deeply disappointed the public, but earned them new wave of condemnation, just as the criticism of their indifference to the miserable livelihood of homeless children has waned down.
“Kids don’t read well; animals are illiterate – only our government can read the slogan. They should be the ones entering the trash bins!” said one Weibo user named @胶东县令
“Bijie: what is more dirty than the dumpsters is our officials' slacking at work” said @TV哇哇.
“No entry for humans and animals. How can you compare humans and animals! It is more like new version of 'No entry for Chinese and dogs‘“, said @叶雨打个酱油
“Dumber than a pig,” cursed a Weibo user.
On the afternoon of Dec. 19, after report on the dumpster warnings has led to public outcry, authority in Bijie took a quick investigation into the matter. According to the official Xinhua report, a total of twelve dumpsters, all located in Heguantun town, have been painted with the slogan. Town mayor Gao Dan openly apologized in response to public outcry.
“I sincerely apologize for the improper words on our town’s trash cans that hurt everyone’s feelings. We will rectify our fault immediately,” he said.
The livelihood of left-behind children in rural Guizhou is worse than most Chinese can imagine
The sequential incidents in Guizhou highlighted the predicaments of China’s millions of left-behind children. A widening wealth gap and rising living costs are driving increasing numbers of poor rural parents to look for jobs in remote large cities, leaving their children behind.
According to statistics of Chinese ministry of education, as many as 58 million Chinese children are left-behind children, one or two of whose parents are working in remote areas. Among the 58 million children, 22 million have none of their parents at the side. Some of these children, due to lack of care and tutelage of their parents, end up as vagrant or homeless children.
Bijie City is a mountainous territory in the northwest of Guizhou Province in southwestern China. Guizhou is one of the poorest hinterland provinces of China. 80 percent of its territory is mountains and hills. As many as 70% of the population live on hills with very poor transportation conditions. The rapid development of China during the last three decades has changed Guizhou a lot, but compared to coastal areas of China, the change is minimal, especially for those living in rural Guizhou.
It often rains in winter and it usually takes a dozen days following a rain for the muddy road to dry up. Though the temperature in winter is higher than northern China, the high humidity make people feel even colder than in the north of China.
But it is the indifference and slacking attitude to children care of the Guizhou officials that chill the Chinese nation.