Microblog campaign aims at rescue of abducted Children

Updated:Fri, Feb 11, 2011 08:41 AM   By Bernd Chang

Child beggar,Abducted Children

A child beggar on North Avenue in Anyang City of Henan province photographed by a netizen.

China has become gripped by an internet microblog campaign to trace children abducted and forced to become beggars, and reunite them with their families.

 

February 11, Beijing — An online campaign to gather photos of Chinese kids begging on the streets is helping reunite families riven by kidnappings.

China's top police authorities have responded to the country's microblog initiative to free child beggars from their plight, vowing to verify every clue that might lead to the solving of human-trafficking cases.

Chen Shiqu, Director of China's Public Security Ministry's Anti-human Trafficking Department, recently wrote on his microblog that he would keep the online communication channel open and welcome people to provide clues that would be checked by his department, Xinhuanet.com reports.

The police response came following widespread media attention that focused on a microblog campaign urging netizens to post photos of child beggars in the hope that their parents would recognize them and government authorities would take action to address the problem.

Yu Jianrong, of the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, initiated the microblog campaign on January 26. The blog has since gathered 1,000 pictures, 100,000 followers and made several families happy.

On Tuesday, Peng Gaofeng, a migrant worker in Shenzhen, was reunited with his son who was kidnapped three years ago. Five other children whose pictures were posted on the blog were also identified by their parents, Chinese state media said on Wednesday.

Hosted by popular social networking site Sina Microblog, Mr Yu’s blog has led to other similar ones appearing on the web in China.

Many initiatives that spread through microblogs in the country quickly turn into confrontations with the government, because they tend to centre on abuses by local officials. However, in this case, the authorities appear to have jumped on the bandwagon, with state media reporting Mr Peng’s reunion with his son. Police in some cities have also joined the online campaign.

China estimates 20,000 children are abducted every year. Some are forced to beg by crime syndicates, while others are sold to couples who cannot have children, or are made to work in factories.

Mr Yu, a researcher at the respected Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has tapped into an online push by parents of abducted children in China. Organisations such as “Baby Come Home” or “The Ark” run websites with information on missing children.

However, his campaign, which marks the first time microblogs have joined the cause, has taken the movement to a new level. The social networking tool has spread rapidly in China during the past two years, cranking up the speed at which information travels and helping support the country’s fledgling civil society. “Everyone has a microphone,” Mr Yu told local media in December.

 

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