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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                 

People’s Republic of China

The Chinese government faces numerous economic development challenges, including: (a) strengthening its social safety net, including pension and health system reform, to counteract a high domestic savings rate and correspondingly low domestic demand; (b) sustaining adequate job growth for tens of millions of migrants, new entrants to the work force, and workers laid off from state-owned enterprises deemed not worth saving; (c) reducing corruption and other economic crimes; and (d) containing environmental damage and social strife related to the economy's rapid transformation.

Description: China


Economic development has been more rapid in coastal provinces than in the interior, and approximately 200 million rural laborers and their dependents have relocated to urban areas to find work.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in China.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Gene ID cards issued to help Chinese street children find parents

Xinhua News Agency, XI'AN, Jan. 3, 2008

[accessed 28 April 2011]

With specially-made ID cards containing their genetic information, 14 street children in northwest China's Shaanxi Province are likely to find their own biological parents sooner.  Medical workers from the Fourth Military Medical University of Chinese People's Liberation Army have issued 14 gene ID cards, the first such cards in Shaanxi Province, to the children accommodated in government-sponsored relief center in the provincial capital of Xi'an.

The card, with 15 gene loci (gene locations), can represent the full biological characteristics of a person, and has no chance to be identical with another one among the 6 billion population in the world, Wu said.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Juvenile crime increased sharply, prompting calls to establish an independent, nationwide juvenile justice system. During the first seven months of the year, 23 percent more juveniles were convicted of crimes than during the same period in 2004. From 2000 to 2004, the annual increase in juvenile crime was 14 percent. Authorities arrested 69,780 juveniles in 2003, and approximately 19 thousand juveniles were incarcerated in formal prisons. Abolition of the system of custody and repatriation in 2003 reduced the number of children detained administratively. Nonetheless, more than 150 thousand homeless "street children" lived in cities, according to state-run media. Many did not live with their parents and survived by begging.

New life for hapless kids

Wang Ru, China Daily, 2008-10-16

[accessed 28 April 2011]

When Zeng was 5, her father abandoned her after her stepmother had a baby. She was given to a couple and brought to Jiangxi.  This couple only adopted her to exploit her as a bread winner. They trained Zeng to do acrobatics and treated her like a circus animal.  For two months after she escaped this hell, Zeng performed on the streets to beg and slept at bus stations.

Number of homeless centers to double in China

Guan Xiaofeng, China Daily, 2008-09-13

[accessed 6 January 2015]

Gao said a national relief system aimed at helping vagrants, both adults and children, was set up in August 2003, following a scandal in which Sun Zhigang, a native of Hubei province and a worker at a garment company in Guangdong province, was beaten to death by eight patients at a penitentiary hospital just hours after being arrested as a vagrant for not carrying his ID.

Under the system, adult vagrants can apply for free board and lodging for up to 10 days at relief stations, she said.  In that time, local civil affairs bureaus, which oversee the stations, will help people to make contact with their families and will also pay for their bus or train ticket home.

Before the system was set up, homeless people were subject to the old system of "compulsory custody and repatriation", under which police had to jail vagrants and beggars, and send them back to their hometowns, Gao said.  "The establishment of the new relief system is a major step forward for human rights protection in China."

As of March of this year, the system had helped 588,500 street children nationwide, she said.  "Most of them left home because of poverty, improper parenting, or because they were trafficked," she said

Behind the scenes in Beijing

Catherine Sampson, Guardian, 3 August 2008

[accessed 29 January 2011]

At the bottom of the heap are the street children. At a residential school, I met some of the children plucked from the streets. An 11-year-old boy who preferred that I call him by his English name, Nicholas, told me that he had lived with his younger brother and older sister in Henan. His father was frequently in trouble and a mother was both pitifully poor and unable to cope with her uncontrollable children. One day the boss of a beggar gang arrived scouting for children. He offered the mother 3 yuan (20p) per day per child if she would allow him to take them away to beg, which she did. He said he would hand over this money in a lump sum once a year at Chinese New Year.

During the months that followed, Nicholas said, he earned between 100 and 600 yuan per day (between £7 and £40) for his boss. Nicholas kept trying to run away. When the boss beat his younger brother for not earning enough, Nicholas swore at his boss. Because of this, when the boss took the children home at spring festival, he gave Nicholas' mother only 30 yuan (£2) for her son's labour. htsc

Kelly Road grad doing research in China

Bernice Trick, Prince George Citizen, 10 May 2007

[accessed 16 January 2017]

She said the majority of street children are males. Many are children of migrant workers who've become lost in job shuffles, some have run away or been pushed out of their homes, others have been sold or stolen, and many are orphaned due to parent deaths form disasters like floods and drought.

Man joins beggars to learn cruel story about street kids

Zhang Liuhao, 2006-12-21

[accessed 16 January 2017]

Motivated by the plight of injured street children, a man became a beggar for two months in Shenzhen to learn about their circumstances.

He visited a man, who was considered the richest beggar in Shenzhen. The man always controlled three to four sick or handicapped children, intimidating them into begging.

Cao said the man broke arms or legs of the children he had abducted to make them look miserable. The more miserable it looked, the more people would give to these children, the man believed.  When the children turned seriously ill, they often disappeared mysteriously and some new cruelly injured children would appear, Cao said.

Not scorned, street kids get new life in imitation family


[accessed 16 January 2017]

Home meant anything but warmth to Wang Qi when he, then 12 years old, was rejected by his divorced parents four years ago.  But an imitation family program is reshaping the boy’s idea, if more, perhaps, his life.

China to set up aid centers for street children in cities

Xinhua News Agency, ZHENGZHOU, May 17, 2006

[accessed 28 April 2011]

China will set up more aid centers for street children in cities, a senior official has said.  As one of the most vulnerable groups, street children need special care and protection so that their rights are better safeguarded, said Zhang Mingliang, head of the Social Welfare and Social Affairs Department of the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Currently street children have access to food and accommodationat relief stations, which also provide help for adult vagrants.  The street children's centers to be established across China will offer not only room and board but also basic education.  Civil affairs authorities help as many as 150,000 street kids every year. Experts estimate that there are a total of 1 million street children in China.

At the Margins: Street Children in Asia and the Pacific

Andrew West, 2003 -- Asian Development Bank ADB, Poverty and Social Development Papers

[accessed 28 April 2011]

The Asia-Pacific Region is home to nearly half the world's children, including large numbers of street children.  This paper provides an introductory snapshot of issues concerning "street children" in this vast and culturally diverse region.  Major characteristics of street children include homelessness, separation from family, poverty, and being out of school with a need to work, which are further linked to vulnerability, to exploitation and risk. This is a thorough review of the situation of street children in the region, which explores meanings and definitions, the causes and reasons for moving to the street, daily life issues and risks and perceived benefits of street life. It also presents examples from across the region, frameworks and methods for intervention before concluding by reviewing the roles of governments and NGOs.

Information About Street Children - China [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for East and South East Asia on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 12-14 March 2003, Bangkok, Thailand

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 September 2011]

There are an estimated 150,000 street children in China, but this number may exceed 300,000 taking into account children of migrant workers who spend the day on the streets but go back to their parents at night.  Out of the 150,000 children who have been served and helped by the Street Children Protection and Help Centers, 70% are boys.

The Migrant's Story: Contours Of Human Rights Abuse

Human Rights Watch Report, "The Invisible Exodus: North Koreans In The People's Republic Of China", Vol. 14, No. 8 (C), November 2002

[accessed 28 April 2011]

CHILDREN WITHOUT A FUTURE - Humanitarian workers also reported to Human Rights Watch a significant and growing problem of North Korean street children in China. The migration of children is caused by similar factors to that of adults, with the additional element of a breakdown in the school system and absenteeism in the provinces of North Korea most affected by food shortages.  These young people are known in Korean as kkot-jebi (child vagrants) and sometimes are described as "orphans," but it is more precise to say they are unaccompanied minors, some of whom have lost one or more parents, or whose parents are incapable of caring for them. Most appear to be boys, aged ten or older.

Getting children off the street in Baoji

Médecins Sans Frontières MSF, May 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 28 April 2011]

Since January 2005, Marg Ward, an Australian nurse from Ballina, has been working with street kids in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Baoji Children's Center in Shaanxi Province, in northern China.  In cooperation with authorities in Baoji, MSF has been running the center since March 2001.  This is Marg’s fourth mission with the medical aid organization.

China to Help More Street Children

Xinhua News Agency, March 7, 2005

[accessed 28 April 2011]

Zhang stated that there are at least 150,000 homeless children wandering the country's cities, most of them from underdeveloped rural areas.  "Most of these children are suffering from inadequate daily necessities and have no chance to receive a normal education, which has a lifelong negative impact on their physical and mental health. Some of them even become criminals," Zhang said.

Providing AIDS Care And Helping Street Children

Médecins Sans Frontières MSF, International Activity Report 2004

[accessed 28 April 2011]

[accessed 27 November 2016]

MSF continues to provide psychosocial support to marginalized children in Baoji city, Shaanxi province. In China, homeless children living on the street are becoming a growing problem. Having escaped from or having been rejected by their families, these children have often been exposed to physical and psychological trauma, neglect, abuse, hunger and social rejection.

Chinese Street Children Struggle To Survive News Staff, Feb. 12 2005 -- With files from CTV's Steve Chao

[accessed 8 Aug  2013]

When Joseph Song was a young boy, he was one of many Chinese children who roamed the streets working for the little money he would never see.  These days, the 19-year-old helps run a sanctuary for street children.

New study reveals nationwide system of arbitrary detention

Human Rights in China, Inc., September 29, 1999

[accessed 28 April 2011]

To "prepare" for the National Day celebrations, for some months police in cities across the country have been detaining people in a "clean-up" campaign to clear the streets of those deemed undesirable by urban authorities. The vast majority of detainees are ordinary migrant workers. Other prime targets include China's street children, homeless, mentally ill and mentally disabled. Most are locked up under a form of arbitrary detention called Custody and Repatriation (C&R).

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