Nineteen central government departments yesterday launched a national
campaign to provide better protection for minors, a major part of which is to
crack down on the use of child labor.
At its opening session, Gu Xiulian, vice-chairwoman of the NPC Standing
Committee, said the protection of minors was "a requirement necessitated by the
construction of a harmonious socialist society".
China has more than 340 million minors who account for 26.1 percent of the
The fight against the use of child labor is an integral part of the revised
Law on the Protection of Minors, which will go into effect on Internattonal
Children's Day next Friday.
"Enforcement mechanisms and legal responsibilities were not clearly defined
in the past," Zhang Xiaoliang, head of the Communist Youth League Central
Committee's rights protection division, told China Daily. "This undermined the
operability of the law, and caused a series of other issues."
"They are now," he said.
The current law on the protection of minors has been effective since 1992.
Its amendment began in 2003, and was passed by the nation's top legislators in
the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee last year.
In conjunction with criminal laws, legislators clarified for the first time
the respective responsibilities of law enforcement agencies, and strengthened
punishment for employers of child labor, Zhang said.
"Child labor is a serious problem and an acute issue," he said, without
providing official figures on the current number of child workers in the
An earlier research report by Lu Shizhen, vice-president of the China Youth
University of Political Sciences, suggested that the country had about 2-3
million child laborers (aged under 16) at the end of the 1990s.
Although the number of child laborers declined over the past decade, there is
still widespread employment of children in some manufacturing companies,
especially in South China.
The television program News Probe on China Central Television, revealed in a
May 2000 program that 84 minors under the age of 14, from Rongshui County in the
southwestern autonomous region of Guangxi, were detected as being illegally
employed at a lamp mill in Dongteng, Zhejiang Province. During a clampdown
operation, inspectors stopped a man who was allegedly about to take 31 children
he had kidnapped from Rongshui to the Zhejiang mill.
"These things still happen but people are working very hard to stop them from
happening," Zhang said.
(China Daily 05/25/2007 page3)