Chinese cities roll out measures to guarantee well-being of left-behind children during Spring Festival
Published: Feb 02, 2021 08:10 PM

Photo: Xinhua

Chinese cities have rolled out measures to guarantee the well-being of left-behind children, arranging for at least one qualified person to look after them who live apart from their parents during the upcoming Spring Festival holidays, the first time that China suggests people not to travel due to the COVID-19 epidemic. 

By the end of August 2018, there were 6.97 million left-behind children in rural areas, though the number was down 22.7 percent from 9.02 million in 2016, according to statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

As China has called on all residents to minimize travels during the traditional holiday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many children will not be able to reunite with their families. Grassroots officials will make more efforts to make sure these children can enjoy the holiday, experts reached by the Global Times said. 

The Ministry of Civil Affairs required at least one qualified person to look after a left-behind child and provide communication channels between children and their parents. Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province has started to make efforts to implement this task, the provincial government said on Monday.

Heilongjiang has set up a hotline for children and will make sure the needs of left-behind children are heard, the provincial government said. 

Longnan city in East China’s Jiangxi Province has mobilized volunteers to send gifts to left-behind children as one way to comfort them. The city has more than 3,000 left-behind children, some of whom cannot be with their parents during the holidays. 
Li Jianmin, a professor at the Institute of Population and Development at Nankai University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the “stay put” policy for Spring Festival will result in left-behind children needing more care than ever. 

Spring Festival is the only time for many of them to reunite with their families, as many of their parents only return to their hometowns during this special holiday, Li said. Giving them extra care is important and will pose a challenge to local officials. 

Guided by the policy released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Guangzong county government in North China’s Hebei Province is ascertaining the number of left-behind children and will mobilize efforts to take care of them, a local government official told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The number of left-behind children in the county is not very big, but local officials will still attach importance to the work, government officials said. They will regularly visit these children and aged people with no one to take care of them to learn their needs and provide assistance in a timely fashion.