Chinese Blogger Demands Answers over Funding to Help ‘Left-Behind Children’
Zhou Xiaoyun, a well-known blogger, took legal action against the governments of Bijie city and Guizhou province, demanding that they reveal what happened to a one hundred and eighty million yuan provincial fund established to help ‘left-behind children’ (liushou ertong), a term that generally refers to children currently living in the Chinese countryside without the daily care of their parents, who have migrated to other areas for work. The government of Bijie established the fund in 2012, after the death of five boys who had tried to shelter form the cold in a trash container had sparked a public debate over whether the local authorities were doing enough to help these disadvantaged children. The fund should have been used toward improving the living conditions and medical care of left-behind children. However, when four more Bijie children killed themselves in June 2015 by drinking pesticide, blogger Zhou Xiaoyun decided to file a request to the local government to disclose details about how the fund had been used. After being told that such information did not exist, Zhou filed another request and again the government only provided general figures. Zhou’s additional demand that the Guizhou provincial government intervene to ask the Bijie government to publish documents about the fund was similarly dismissed. Finally, in late December 2015, Zhou filed an administrative lawsuit against the two governments at the Guiyang Intermediate People’s Court. The lawsuit was accepted and the case was heard in court in June 2016, but Zhou’s request was denied. In mid-February, the State Council released a guideline on the protection of left-behind children, requiring local governments and village committees to pay close attention to the situation of these children and ensure they are properly taken care of.