Orphanage-scandal probe starts
By Tom Qian
A JOINT work team including family planning, civil affairs personnel, police and Party disciplinary officials are investigating a scandal in which babies were taken from parents and sent overseas for adoption from southwest China's Guizhou Province, an official told Xinhua news agency yesterday.
Yang Jiesheng, deputy secretary general of the Qiandongnan Prefecture government and deputy head of the work team, said that the public orphanage in Zhenyuan County in Guizhou is suspected of violating rules in accepting "abandoned" babies.
In the Zhenyuan case, at least three babies were taken from the homes of their relatives or even their own parents.
The orphanage has taken in 81 "abandoned" babies since June 1995, with 60 of those adopted by foreign families, said Han Hui, deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China committee in Qiandongnan Prefecture.
The orphanage was awarded US$3,000 for each child placed with a foreign family.
It wasn't clear whether there would be any attempt to retrieve the children who were improperly sent out for adoption.
Six local party and government officials were punished this week for their roles in the scandal, Han said.
They received warnings from the Party or administrative punishments from the local government.
Among the officials are the former Party secretary of Zhenyuan County's Jiaoxi Town, Pan Jianguo, former town Director Wu Changqing, Vice Director Tian Rongbao and former Assistant Director Wang Daohua. The other two are family planning officials.
They were accused of asking parents who violated family planning regulations to pay 10,000 yuan (US$1,460) for each extra child.
Those who couldn't afford the fine were ordered to give their child to a local orphanage, the Guiyang Evening Post reported yesterday.
Lu Xiande, a farmer in Zhenyuan, had his fourth daughter taken by the orphanage in June 2004, according to the report.
Lu's daughter was born in December 2003. Family planning official Shi Guangying approached Lu's wife, Yang Shuiying, and told her that the government would take her daughter because she couldn't pay the fine, the paper said.
Shi and another family planning official sent the girl to the orphanage in Zhenyuan, and the couple told the newspaper that they never saw the child again.