Reports of forced child-begging probed

Updated: 2014-03-20 09:07

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou (China Daily)

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Authorities in Dongguan, Guangdong province, vowed to investigate recent media reports that criminal gangs were disabling abducted children and forcing them to become street beggars, said a senior government official.

"The city's public security department, urban management and civil affairs bureau have promised to work together to investigate these alleged crimes after holding a joint conference on Tuesday," said Yang Dongru, director of the Dongguan bureau of civil affairs.

Over the weekend, TV and newspaper reports revealed that many people, including children, were allegedly sold to criminal gangs in Dongguan and intentionally injured, even disabled, by gang members to work as beggars in the streets of Dongguan. Most of the victims were formerly homeless people or children abducted from their hometowns before they were sold to the city's gangs.

Reports of forced child-begging probed

Police have since verified the media reports and said some of the victims have been placed in temporary shelters.

Authorities said they have created "special plans" to help police prevent people from forcing victims into beggary in Dongguan, said Yang, who did not reveal details of the plans because police investigations are underway.

Yang said on Tuesday that city departments will make greater efforts to help rescue the city's beggars, particularly children, over the next few months.

The official, who said his bureau takes these cases seriously, urged locals to actively help police with tips or leads when they witness criminal activities in the city. The local public security department did not comment on Wednesday.

Zheng Fenming, director of the Institute of Modernization Strategy at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said those who injure and disable people and force them to beg have committed a serious crime.

"And they have also committed fraud because they use the sympathy of society to turn a profit through forcing the wounded or disabled to beg," Zheng said on Wednesday.

He urged police across the country to fight and seriously punish this criminal activity.

"Civil affairs and other government departments should also make investments to help rescue the beggars, particularly children beggars, and introduce advanced welfare systems for the children who come from poor families in rural areas," said Zheng, who is a member of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"With the country's rapid and sustainable economic growth, Guangdong and many other local governments have the ability to improve their welfare systems for children and for the unemployed," he said.

Chen Hongyan, an office worker in Guangzhou, said authorities should intensify their crackdown on the criminal activity in the months ahead.

"The growing number of beggars who usually beg in the cities' busy areas have bruised the image of the country at home and abroad," she said.