Bureau tried to 'borrow' orphans from temple

Updated: 2013-01-15 03:28

By Li Wenfang in Guangzhou and He Dan in Beijing (China Daily)

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The Rongcheng district government apologized on Monday evening for "borrowing" orphans in a failed ruse to pass the inspection of a childcare facility.

The district in Jieyang, Guangdong province, has now promised to put 3 million yuan ($482,000) toward caring for orphans, People's Daily reported.

Bureau tried to 'borrow' orphans from temple

Shi Rutong (left), 3, and Da Di, who are both orphans, warm themselves by a stove in the kitchen of Zifeng Temple in Jieyang, Guangdong province, on Saturday. [Sun Junbin/For China Daily] 

The district also announced that the director of its civil affairs bureau, Lin Xiangbiao, was dismissed.

The Guangdong provincial civil affairs department had required a check of orphans across the province after a fatal fire in an unlicensed orphanage in Lankao county, Henan province, earlier this month.

The Rongcheng civil affairs bureau had told their superiors that they had a social welfare home for orphans, as required by provincial authorities.

However, they were not operating such a facility.

A video posted on a micro blog last week showed a worker representing the bureau asking to borrow a dozen orphans from Shi Yaokai, a Buddhist abbot at the Zifeng Temple.

The abbot refused the request.

Zifeng Temple has the largest number of abandoned babies among local non-governmental bodies.

There are 185 orphans in Rongcheng, with 70 living on government subsidies and 115 cared for by individuals and non-governmental bodies, according to the bureau.

The way the workers of the bureau checked and handled the orphans at Zifeng Temple was wrong and irresponsible, it said.

The man in the video who asked to borrow orphans, Huang Jianwei, was working temporarily at the bureau and was returned to his original office at the administrative service center of the district.

The bureau's offices in the social welfare home building have been asked to move out so that the division for children could go into operation by the end of June, said Huang Shenghui, director of the general office of the bureau.

Lankao aftermath

The fire that left seven dead and one severely injured in a private orphanage in Lankao this month aroused public anger over the fact that many orphans live in hazardous situations due to insufficient government support.

Media accused the local government of Lankao of spending 20 million yuan ($3.2 million) on building a center for its finance bureau while local officials complained about funding difficulties to set up a public welfare home for orphans and abandoned children.

Wu Changsheng, deputy head of the county, admitted that the local government failed to attach great importance to satisfying vulnerable children's needs, in a program on China Central Television on Sunday.

The construction of a public welfare house for children had been listed on the local government's agenda before the blaze and the central government had approved 900,000 yuan for the project last year, said Dong Hui, Henan province's civil affairs official.

The Lankao government vowed to put the house into service in August.

"Although the government is improving its work for children, our debt is too high," Dong said. "Our public services have fallen behind children's needs."

Nationwide, county-level child welfare homes have yet to be established.

Statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed that only 64 out of 2,853 counties in the country have child welfare homes. The ministry pledged to help 500 counties to build childcare homes by the end of 2015.

Contact the writers at liwenfang@chinadaily.com.cn and hedan@chinadaily.com.cn