Chinese Orphans And The Dark Side Of "Loving Mothers"

Chinese Orphans And The Dark Side Of "Loving Mothers"
Sun Le


BEIJING - Recently, a fire killed seven children in a private orphanage in the Eastern Chinese town of Lankao.

The woman who runs the Henan province orphanage, Yuan Lihai, called “Loving Mother” by locals, became a controversial figure overnight, even though she has cared for more than 100 abandoned children over the past 20 years. Is she to blame? If not, who could be responsible for this tragedy?

Yuan is a kind mother, who has currently 34 children in her care. There is nothing wrong about wanting to adopt and care for unwanted and disabled children. Rare are those, in our society, who have the courage to do what she does, and her 25-years of charitable deeds are worthy of respect.

However, good intentions don’t necessarily produce good results. When one chooses to adopt children, one also takes on responsibility of being their guardian. Out of the seven lives lost, six were not even five-years-old and the youngest was only seven-months-old. Though it was innocent child play that caused the fire, Yuan, as their guardian, cannot escape blame.

Lankao authorities should take their part of responsibility in this tragedy. Yuan is well known to them. Not only do the civil affairs service donate clothes to her children, the local police also send her abandoned children.

As an illiterate person, Yuan’s deeds are based on goodness, without after thoughts. Lankao’s officials should have realized that it was unacceptable for Yuan all alone to take responsibility for so many children. The Lankao authorities are claiming that neither the county nor the nearby cities have any welfare homes. This excuse is absurd – as big as China is, we can’t even provide proper shelter for these children?

The fundamental cause of this tragedy is that the Chinese government does nothing to help these abandoned orphans.

In the past 25 years, many of the children that Yuan adopted have died prematurely. The death rate of her wards is almost 30 %. Had the local government reacted and provided better care for these poor children, they might have made it to adulthood. These children were abandoned a first time by their parents and then, abandoned a second time by their country.

Scarce welfare vs. adoption

This is a tragedy that could have been avoided. Were the relevant government departments more responsible and the children’s guardian more aware of her own limitations, the outcome wouldn’t have been so tragic. It was just a few days ago that the Supreme People’s Court – the country’s top court – issued a judicial interpretation on dereliction of duty. Government officials found guilty of dereliction of duty leading to fatal accidents will face harsh punishments. Hence, shouldn’t the Lankao local government assume criminal responsibility for what resulted from its omission to act?

It took the death of these orphans for children’s welfare and security issues to finally enter the government’s field of vision. According to data from the ministry of civil affairs, there are currently 615,000 orphans in China, less than 110,000 of who are in public orphanages. Out of the country’s 2853 counties, as few as 64 counties – 2% – have child welfare institutions.

Lankao’s “Loving Mother” is not the only one. There are many others like her across the country, like Wang Xiafen in Hebei who has adopted more than 30 abandoned toddlers in the past 28 years, and Yang Yunxian in Shanxi who has cares for 40 disabled children. Though Lankao authorities have now promised to set up a proper orphanage, what about the rest of the country?

The response is doomed to be inadequate if the government tries to manage everything on its own. It should allow the participation of civil forces and to encourage family adoptions.

Rather than counting on local governments, who have limited financial abilities to handle child welfare, China should set up civil adoption channels. It should provide more information for prospective adoptees and make adoption easier to help orphans find suitable adoptive families. Welfare organizations should be the last fallback. If our society fails to improve in this area, what child will ever want to be born in this country?

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Protests against gasoline price hikes in Lebanon

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Wai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where leaked documents show how some countries are lobbying to change a key report on climate change, Moscow announces new full lockdown and the world's first robot artist is arrested over spying allegations. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt looks at the rapprochement between two leaders currently at odds with Europe: UK's BoJo and Turkey's Erdogan.

[*Bodo - India, Nepal and Bengal]


• Documents reveal countries lobbying against climate action: Leaked documents have revealed that some of the world's biggest fossil fuel and meat producing countries, including Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia, are trying to water down a UN scientific report on climate change and pushing back on its recommendations for action, less than one month before the COP26 climate summit.

• COVID update: The city of Moscow plans to reintroduce lockdown measures next week, closing nearly all shops, bars and restaurants, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a nationwide seven-day workplace shutdown from Oct. 30 to combat the country's record surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. Meanwhile, India has crossed the 1 billion vaccinations milestone.

• India and Nepal floods death toll passes 180: Devastating floods in Nepal and the two Indian states of Uttarakhand and Kerala have killed at least 180 people, following record-breaking rainfall.

• Barbados elects first ever president: Governor general Dame Sandra Mason has been elected as Barbados' first president as the Caribbean island prepares to become a republic after voting to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

• Trump to launch social media platform: After being banned from several social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, former U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would launch his own app called TRUTH Social in a bid "to fight back against Big Tech." The app is scheduled for release early next year.

• Human remains found in hunt for Gabby Petito's fiance: Suspected human remains and items belonging to Brian Laundrie were found in a Florida park, more than one month after his disappearance. Laundrie was a person of interest in the murder of his fiancee Gabby Petito, who was found dead by strangulation last month.

• Artist robot detained in Egypt over spying fear: Ai-Da, the world's ultra-realistic robot artist, was detained for 10 days by authorities in Egypt where it was due to present its latest art works, over fears the robot was part of an espionage plot. Ai-Da was eventually cleared through customs, hours before the exhibition was due to start.


"Nine crimes and a tragedy," titles Brazilian daily Extra, after a report from Brazil's Senate concluded that President Jair Bolsonaro and his government had failed to act quickly to stop the deadly coronavirus pandemic, accusing them of crimes against humanity.


Erdogan and Boris Johnson: A new global power duo?

As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too, write Carolina Drüten and Gregor Schwung in German daily Die Welt.

🇹🇷🇬🇧 According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey. The country has long felt left out in the cold, at odds with the European Union over a number of issues. Yet now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is setting his sights on another country, which also wants to become more independent from Europe: the UK.

⚠️ Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel always argued for closer collaboration with Turkey. She never supported French President Emmanuel Macron's ideas about greater strategic autonomy for countries within the EU. But now that she's leaving office, Macron is keen to make the most of the power vacuum Merkel will leave behind. The prospect of France's growing influence is "not especially good news for Turkey," says Ian Lesser, vice president of the think tank German Marshall Fund.

🤝 At the UN summit in September, Erdogan had a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the recently opened Turkish House in New York. Kalin says it was a "very good meeting" and that the two countries are "closely allied strategic partners." He says they plan to work together more closely on trade, but with a particular focus on defense. The groundwork for collaboration was already in place. Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU, and gave an ultimate proof of friendship after the failed coup in 2016.

➡️


"He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin's regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life."

— David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter, following the announcement that imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Union's highest tribute to human rights defenders. Navalny, who survived a poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin, is praised for his "immense personal bravery" in fighting Putin's regime. The European Parliament called for his immediate release from jail, as Russian authorities opened a new criminal case against the activist that could see him stay in jail for another decade.



Chinese video platform Youku is under fire after announcing it is launching a new variety show called in Mandarin Squid's Victory (Yóuyú de shènglì) on social media, through a poster that also bears striking similarities with the visual identity of Netflix's current South Korean hit series Squid Game. Youku apologized by saying it was just a "draft" poster.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Anyone want to guess Trump's first post on his upcoming social media platform...? Let us know how the news look in your corner of the world — drop us a note at!

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