Totalitarian countries are often the scene of cruel social experiments that deeply hurt their citizens, and one of them is the Chinese regime’s rigid birth control policy in China.

This now generates a humanitarian crisis that plagues millions of children and adolescents, victims of abandonment who suffer in the flesh, the consequences of hunger, malnutrition, and a long series of mistreatment and abuse of their basic human rights. 

“The orphanages of death”

Some pioneers in publicizing the inhumane situation that causes suffering to orphaned and abandoned children under the Communist Party of China (CCP) are investigative journalists Kate Blewett and Brian Woods.

Blewett, Woods, and cameraman Peter Woolridge traveled undercover in China and filmed in 1995 what became known as the “orphanages of death,” where they found “severe abuse and neglect.”

Kate recounted, “It was the smell which hit us first, the eye-watering stench and then the eerie silence.” 

She continued, “Babies were smothered under heavy blankets, toddlers tied up with their legs splayed over makeshift potties and not one of them made a sound. They had given up crying as they knew no one would come. They all rocked relentlessly, their only form of stimulation..”

While that was the prevailing scenario in the poorer orphanages, the most heartbreaking situations were found in one of the better-located ones in a wealthy suburb of Guangdong City, Canton Province.  

They were very depressed to find, in the absence of the ‘caretakers,’ the ‘death rooms,’ where children were left to starve to death. There they took pity on a little girl they called Mei Ming. 

“The staff did not go in there. When I ventured in I saw this poor baby girl, her face shrunken to a skull, so close to death.,” explained Kate, about the girl featured in her documentary The Dying Rooms. 

The researchers overcame their revulsion and filmed the dying girl. “Documenting it was painful, but we had to do it to reveal the institutionalised cruelty and murder of girls,” Kate argued. 

The researchers’ global impact from their documentary was so significant that it sparked a groundswell of people interested in adopting Chinese children. They also created a foundation to raise funds to help them. 

Nevertheless, Kate continued her campaign, denouncing the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese regime.

She noted last year: “State officials would take pregnant women out of their homes and perform forced abortions and sterilizations, and aborted babies would be thrown into a bucket.”

She added: “When you see a policy that allows huge-scale gendercide, not just through the state orphanages, but forced abortion and sterilisation, it never leaves you,” adding, “These abuses haven’t gone away, they have simply changed shape.”

On the other hand, it is argued that one of the causes of many minors being abandoned in orphanages or on the streets is the one-child policy imposed by the CCP in 1979, then extended to two in 2015, and more recently, up to three children. However, these modifications have not substantially changed the situation. 

The Chinese regime’s one-child policy has created a race in which most families want boys, and thus parents are forced to abandon their daughters when they are babies, who in some cases are considered “rice worms.” 

In this regard, one-child regulations and widespread social suffering lead to child abduction and trafficking. 

The co-founder of the Golden Phoenix Foundation, Beth Nonte Russell, dedicated to ending child abandonment worldwide, believes that even the CCP violates The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, to which it is a signatory. 

The treaty provides, “Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.”

Parallel to the abandoned baby crisis, the calculated figures on induced abortions under the communist regime are chilling. 

“In 1989, 10.6 million abortions were performed, down from a high of 14.4 million in 1983 (Population Bulletin June 1992, 12).” In other words, if the same pattern as in 1989 is followed, 106 million babies will be denied life in a decade. 

Moreover, according to the 2000 census data, there was a ratio of 117 boys for every 100 girls under five years of age, which would make it possible to calculate some 60 million girls were “missing” from the population at the end of that decade.

The sufferings of parents with ‘illegal’ children

“The miracle of childbirth is a wonderful thing, few things can compare to the moment a parent finally holds their baby in their arms, their first breath, their first cry their, first laugh, all of these things are immeasurably beautiful,” describes Irish presenter Diane Jennings. 

So to say that parents who abandon their daughters don’t necessarily love them is not necessarily the case; many of them are terrified of the consequences of being caught infringing on one of the CCP’s fiercest campaigns. 

One of the alternatives found by anguished parents is the tendency to secretly hand out children to relatives or neighbors who voluntarily wanted to receive them, which family planning officials also pursued. 

To crackdown on this movement, a national adoption law was passed in 1991 that “codified the regulations used by birth planning officials to prevent and punish people for using adoption to … hide out-of-plan births,” says author Chelsea Follett in 2019. 

Follett recalls in her article the distinguished pioneer in the disclosure of the painful situation suffered by abandoned children in China: Kay Ann Johnson, who was a professor of Asian studies and political science at Hampshire College in Amherst (Massachusetts).

Johnson published in 2016 the book China’s Hidden Children: Abandonment, Adoption, and the Human Costs of the One-Child Policy, in which she chronicles the tragedy of illegal children. The work refers to children who were born despite that policy, whose existence was prohibited by that law. 

Moreover, it was illegal for parents to take their ‘extra’ children to orphanages. It was also illegal for a child to be placed for adoption except for parents who were childless and over the age of thirty-five, which was lowered to thirty in 1999.

Thus arose parents’ distressing “strategic abandonment,” which consisted of leaving a child in a basket full of baby items in a crowded outdoor place where someone would soon notice the child. 

The sufferings of abandoned children

While, on many occasions, children born outside the ‘quota’ (which was one until 2015) allocated by the government would find shelter and food by being received illegally by outsiders, the nightmare of lacking official recognition would begin for them.

It should be noted that to obtain the right to attend school, work, marry and, one day, receive a birth certificate, the communist regime is required to give people an official document or hukou.

But ‘illegal’ children were not granted the compulsory hukou, so they became a kind of ‘throwaway caste’ and were called heihaizi (black children), marginalized from society, and deprived of all human rights.

One mother, Bai Xiuling, a former factory worker, who managed to shelter her second daughter, Li, said her daughter used to cry when the other children went to school.

“She wanted to study at school, but she couldn’t. My child has already missed the nine-year compulsory education. After acknowledging that her daughter Li lacks the hukou, “no money can buy her time back,” she lamented.

In many cases, wealthy parents obtain hukou by paying heavy fines. Youshui Wu, director of the Zhejiang Bi Jian law firm, noted that in 2012 alone, Chinese authorities collected more than 20 billion yuan ($2.95 billion) in fines from parents.

He added: “None of the governments were able to account for how the money was spent,” after investigating 24 provincial governments. This assessment highlights another major problem affecting the CCP, which is corruption. 

On the other hand, “A 2015 study by the Macroeconomic Research Academy of the National Development and Reform Commission revealed that nearly half of China’s unregistered citizens were illiterate or lacked formal education.”

It adds, “Quite a lot of unregistered children in China have grown up and started their own families, creating the second generation of unregistered children,” adding to the negative results of the CCP’s experiment with the citizens’ birthrate. 

Also, a 2010 census recorded the existence of 13 million unregistered citizens, which is almost 1% of the population, although some demographers believe the actual figure could be as high as double.

Wenzheng Huang, a demographer and former associate professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says: “The government has recognized having so many citizens unregistered is a serious problem. It not only takes a toll on social development, but has caused huge pain to many families.”

As if that were not enough, the health problems suffered by abandoned children are also of concern, given that they lack care due to lack of hukou, but the situation of those who have it is also poor. 

A study of abandoned children in poor rural areas found in 2108 that in six provinces in China: “The prevalence of stunting was 13%,” and that: “Only 53% of abandoned children were stunted.

And that: “Only 53.9% of abandoned children could eat meat frequently,” adding that: “The percentages of children who had a safe family environment were 22.5%”.

Another significant risk that the minors made invisible by the CCP experiment run is being kidnapped and trafficked. An estimated 70,000 children are abducted in China, although the Chinese government reported fewer than 10,000 abductions. 

It should be noted that childless parents pay as much as $18,000 to purchase a child, creating a profitable demand for criminals.  

The kidnappers’ procedure is basic: they take a child from the street and put it in a vehicle or snatch it from an elderly grandparent who cannot chase them to get their grandchild back.  

Even newborns are stolen from institutions dedicated to maternity hospitals, where employees and doctors are involved.

A 70-year-old woman from Henan became famous after kidnapping “more than a hundred children. The harmless-looking old woman would approach the children on the street, offer them drugged candies, and then hand them over to her accomplices, who would keep the kidnapped child hidden.”

In addition, “Some children are reported to have been sold into adoption overseas. The adoption agencies of China receive considerable donations from foreign parents when they adopt, sometimes as much as $5,000; such agencies have been known to purchase children from human traffickers, although such cases are usually rare.”

Disabled children are rejected

In addition to the population mismatches described above, there is one more cause of suffering for young children, and that is rejection for having a disability.

“In the last 20 years, the number of children with birth defects has jumped 70 per cent. These days some 900,000 children with disabilities are born in China each year,” warned author Desmond Ng of Channel News Asia in 2017. 

He added: “Many are abandoned by their parents because they can’t afford the long-term medical cost and the country has little social security for the disabled.”

The producer, Hoe Yeen Nie, commented that many of these congenital disabilities could easily be treated with surgery. Still, due to ignorance or cost, they end up in orphanages. And once there, it is difficult for them to be adopted.

A China Child Welfare Assessment Report noted that about 100,000 children are abandoned each year, most of whom suffer from disabilities or are girls, according to the CCP Ministry of Civil Affairs and UNICEF, 2010 publication. 

The Communist Party secretary of the Lanzhou Child Welfare Institute, Bai Luzhou, stated, “More than 90 percent of the children in our orphanage have been abandoned and suffer from serious birth abnormalities such as heart defects, cleft lip, cerebral palsy, autism, spinal bifida, seizure disorders, and others disabilities.” 

Moreover, a 2001 nationwide sample survey revealed that nearly 35% of disabled children under six had not received any rehabilitation services. 

Children victims of religious persecution

No less painful is the life of millions of children who have lost their parents because of the religious persecution carried out by the Chinese regime against believers who do not bow to the pressures of atheism promoted by the CCP. 

While the human rights violations suffered by ethnic minorities such as the Uyghurs and the Tibetans are well known and are classified as genocide by several countries, the atrocities perpetrated against the practitioners of the ancient discipline, Falun Dafa, are no lesser. 

“Millions of Chinese children have been in difficulties since the Chinese Communist Party initiated the persecution on July 20, 1999. Some of them lost their parents. Some are in prison with their parents. Some have been expelled from their schools,” reports Minghui.org, an international media outlet specializing in China, about Falun Dafa practitioners. 

It also refers to the situation of the orphans: “On this very day, they live alone without their parents and some are wandering about homeless. Some of them are just beginning to learn to walk, walking with unsteady baby steps with their arms wide open to their parents, who, sadly, have already perished as the result of persecution.”

Likewise, Yi Rong, president of the Global Center for CCP Renouncements, denounced in July of last year, “For 22 years, the CCP mobilized the power of the entire country in its genocide against Falun Gong and forced the removal of their organs. The CCP has broken up countless families, killing countless practitioners—leaving behind many orphans.” 

Other problems exacerbating the population crisis

On the other hand, many homeless people in China reflect another of the problems plaguing the general population. 

Among the causes that leave hundreds of thousands of citizens living on the streets are frequent natural disasters, migration, and discrimination. 

People migrate from their rural homes to the cities in the hope of a better life. Although there are slums, even housing can be unaffordable for the unfortunate. As a result, they have no choice but to settle for a life without a home.

The tragedy of street dwellers is compounded because: “In mainland China, due to the imperfect relief policy for the homeless, they are often treated unfairly and carelessly.”

During the pandemic, the strict measures adopted by the CCP aggravated the lives of the homeless.

“The strategy preferred inhumane efforts, such as driving the homeless away rather than providing more humanitarian aid to improve the lives of the homeless.” However, state-run shelters exist, and an investigation published on Frontiers.org last year described them. 

In addition, the vast economic gap between urban and rural dwellers exacerbates the crisis for people in China. It could even plunge the country into an economic crisis with disastrous repercussions for all in the medium term. 

For some analysts, the economic momentum experienced by China in recent decades rests on: “… the deeply unequal and exploitative system, centered around low-wage migrant workers from rural areas, that has fueled much of the country’s economic growth,” according to the author Mary Hui.

From the perspective of the University of Montana Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center member Dexter Roberts, it is crucial to pay attention to the hundreds of millions of migrants who make up the country’s largest source of labor. 

“Unless its government can address the profound inequalities that have made China’s economic miracle possible, he argues, the miracle will be nothing but an empty myth,” warns Roberts.

Thus, the experiments to regulate the population against the will of the people could not be considered successful but, on the contrary, in addition to causing great suffering to its victims, it has generated social dislocations that could be insurmountable in the short term.

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