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February 10, 2011

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Six children rescued in beggar campaign

SIX children abducted by human traffickers and forced to beg on the streets for their captors have been rescued as a result of an online campaign.

The microblog initiative launched last month asks the public to photograph child beggars and post their pictures online in a bid to reunite abducted children with their parents.

Some child beggars have been snatched from their parents and forced into begging.

The blogs at and, created by Yu Jianrong, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, have gathered 154,000 followers and 1,200 photographs have been posted.

And by Tuesday, six abducted children had been rescued after someone recognized them. Their pictures were viewed by 570,000 web users, according to China National Radio.

But the campaign has also created concerns after child beggars "vanished" from the streets of Shenzhen City in south China once their photographs were published.

Their disappearance has raised fears that the children may have been hidden, disfigured or killed by traffickers.

Beggars had gone into hiding with the children they held after they found their pictures online, the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper reported yesterday.

Reporters checked the Lake Botanical Garden in Shenzhen on Tuesday after being told that many child beggars were to be found around there.

The children, aged only four or five, could not walk as their legs were broken, netizens said.

But when the reporters arrived at the garden, they found only one boy begging.

A security guard said there used be six or seven child beggars led by adults around the garden, but they all disappeared overnight after their photographs were published.

Such disappearances have heightened concerns expressed by some web users who opposed the child beggar campaign.

They have questioned whether it could have negative consequences, for once traffickers find pictures of children they are holding online, they would hide the children or even disfigure or kill them.

However, these voices were drowned out by supporters of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Anhui Province police have carried out investigations in Taihe County after media reports that traffickers were abusing children they held by burning their faces with acid and beating them.

Police announced yesterday that they had found several traffickers abusing children, but were still looking for their hideout.

Taihe government has issued a notice telling child traffickers to turn themselves in within 10 days or face severe punishment.


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