China po­lice prob­ing sib­ling deaths

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Chi­nese po­lice on Thurs­day were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ap­par­ent sui­cides of four young sib­lings aged five to 13 who had been aban­doned by their par­ents in one of the coun­try’s poor­est re­gions.

The four were found Wed­nes­day night at home in a vil­lage on the out­skirts of the city of Bi­jie af­ter ingest­ing liq­uid pes­ti­cide, state me­dia re­ported. At­tempts to re­sus­ci­tate them failed and they were de­clared dead at hos­pi­tal.

The chil­dren’s mother had aban­doned them three years ago and their fa­ther had moved away to find work, the of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency said. They had dropped out of school a month be­fore and their only sus­te­nance was corn flour ground from last year’s crop, Xin­hua said.

Bi­jie, in im­pov­er­ished Guizhou prov­ince, was the scene of a sim­i­lar tragedy al­most three years ago when five run­away boys as­phyx­i­ated af­ter light­ing a fire in a garbage bin where they were shel­ter­ing from the cold.

Those cases have re­newed con­cern over “left-be­hind” ru­ral chil­dren who are of­ten placed in the care of aged grand­par­ents while their fa­thers and moth­ers seek work in far-away cities, of­ten re­turn­ing only once a year.

Faced with un­der­funded schools and in­ad­e­quate so­cial ser­vices, such chil­dren are con­sid­ered highly vul­ner­a­ble to emo­tional, phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuse on top of lone­li­ness, bore­dom and hope­less­ness.

China has been widely lauded for rais­ing 600 mil­lion mostly ru­ral peo­ple out of poverty since the in­sti­tu­tion of eco­nomic re­forms in the early 1980s. De­spite that, more than 82 mil­lion ru­ral Chi­nese con­tinue to live be­low the poverty line, set by China at 2,300 yuan (US$376) or less, or US$1 a day.

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