Help a Child in Lijiang

Last night I got an email from Rachel Beitarie, journalist and blogger at Bendi Laowai. Because I don’t know anything more about the situation than what she sent in her email, I’m going to post most of it verbatim here:

I took the attached photos this afternoon near the entrance to old town in Lijiang, Yunnan province. It’s a street very busy with traffic and pedestrians, mainly tourists.

This boy is a contortionist beggar, doing some rather appalling and dangerous spins. We couldn’t see where the person handling him was.

Talked to the kid briefly: said his parents were home in Henan, he is seven years old and got to Lijiang all by himself (which is almost certainly a lie) he said he’s only got here yesterday and people who pass this street everyday confirmed he’d only arrived recently. I’m not sure I can place his accent accurately as Henanese but think he’s from somewhere in the North, definitely not from Yunnan or Sichuan.

This is all we know. There are several other kids around doing the same thing. One of them is older and has been here several years (that one has two broken legs and wouldn’t let me take a photo of him). Some locals said they have contacted the police and the mayor’s office but nothing was done about this.

So if you can think of a way to help identifying and helping this kid and other like him please do so: add few words in Chinese, post this or send to more friends in the media or the blogsphere or anything else that you think might be helpful in making noise and shaking some government or police butts.

And while you’re making noise about this, don’t forget that sadly, it isn’t just a local issue. Child beggars are everywhere, and it’s not uncommon to find them with no adults in sight. A few weeks ago, I myself ran across a girl begging in the Chaoyangmen subway station in Beijing who could not have been older than 5. She was not accompanied by any adults, although thankfully a caring passer-by had stopped and was trying to figure out where she was from and where her parents were.

This is something the police and the government should be paying attention to. Of course, the chengguan are happy to kick these people off the streets whenever they find them, but I get the feeling no one looks much deeper into the situation. Rachel’s email seems to confirm that plenty of people know about these kids, but no one really seems to care.

0 thoughts on “Help a Child in Lijiang”

  1. Unfortunately, there are kids like this all over China and especially in tourist areas. It drives me crazy to see the foreign backpackers and other tourists giving the kids money, blissfully unaware that the kid will not see one cent of it.

    You may not see the adults but they are out there and they are watching. After all, they have invested heavily in these kids, most of whom have been kidnapped.

    The acrobats, the rose sellers, and the straight beggars. All slave labour. Do not support this human trafficking by giving them money. Heart breaking as it may be, giving them money does nothing for the kids and makes it more likely more will be kidnapped.

    Round here (Guangxi), about once every couple of years, they round up a kid or two, ship them home amid loads of publicity for the local cops and their brilliant detective skills in tracing the parents. At the same time, the downtown area is swarming with many more and the brave cops are ignoring them. Business as usual.


  2. I agree with Liuzhou Laowai. I often saw kids in similar situations in Xi’an’s city center. Seeing exploited kids and horrifically disabled beggars on a regular basis was one of the more disturbing aspects of living in China for me.


  3. Unfortunately, kids are exploited in anywhere in any country. Recently in the news they have teenage girls got lured by pimps to prostitute …. in Portland Oregon. At least it is not as bad as in some of the Eastern European countries.


  4. Thanks Custer,
    Yes, this is sadly a very common sight in Chinaand seems to be getting worse.
    The point in sending out those photos, however, wasn’t actually to solve the problem of all the abused children in China (or in Portland Oregon) but to pass on whatever scanty details I got about this boy specifically in the hope that he might be identified by someone and maybe helped.
    It’s little or nothing I know, but it’s the only course of action I could think about.


  5. It’s heartbreaking that this sort of site is so common, even in Beijing.

    @ pug_ster:

    “Unfortunately, kids are exploited in anywhere in any country.”

    The situation in Portland is awful, but what happens in Chinese cities is of an entirely different scale. The situations are not at all comparable.


  6. Child exploitation is everywhere. Nobody know what the circumstances of why Children is exploited. It could be very well that gangsters are involved. It could also happen when parents of the child are destitute and the only way to make money is to use their children. I hope when central and western China gets more developed that this kind of thing would be the thing of the past.


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