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x-in-jiang local government plan to help children beggars|
URUMQI - China's westernmost x-in-jiang Uy-gur autonomous region has vowed to find and bring home all of the children native to the region who are strays in other parts of the country, some of whom steal or beg for a living.
From Saturday to May 1, the regional government will send teams of investigators to search for vagrant children in 19 provinces and municipalities that regularly offer aid to x-in-jiang, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, the region's top official Zhang Chunxian said on Thursday.
"We'll work closely with these provinces and cities. We hope to bring these children back as soon as possible," said Zhang, secretary of the x-in-jiang regional committee of the Communist Party of China.
Zhang said the regional government will also send more investigation teams to other parts of China to help bring the vagrant children home.
Once back, the children will be placed in government-run shelters to protect them, Zhang said, adding that they will receive schooling.
The initiative is aimed at helping x-in-jiang's vagrant children resume normal lives and restoring the reputation of the far-western region, which is known in many cities as a source of "young robbers and thieves".
"Speaking about x-in-jiang, we all know its beautiful landscape, as well as the thieves who roam the streets of my city," said Qu Weili, an office worker in Wenzhou, a prosperous coastal city in East China's Zhejiang province.
Qu told Xinhua News Agency that her purse had been stolen by vagrant children from x-in-jiang three times.
But many people have sympathy for the youngsters. "They are victims themselves," said Li Yongliang, a resident of Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi province.
Li said he once saw a boy try and fail to steal a man's wallet. "A middle-aged woman who seemed to be his employer then slapped him in the face. He was about 10 years old and looked like an Uy-gur."
It is unclear how many stray children from x-in-jiang are roaming around China, but about 3,000 have been sent back to x-in-jiang every year in recent years, said Zhang Yang, an official with the regional civil affairs department.
A report from the x-in-jiang Academy of Social Sciences said that at least 90 percent of these children are victims of kidnapping. Most of them are from underdeveloped areas in southern x-in-jiang, including Hotan, Aksu and Kashgar, where child-trafficking is rampant.
Many of these children receive little schooling and are too young to give detailed addresses or contact information to authorities.
When they are caught stealing in the city, there is little police can do because the children are underage. Many of them do not speak or understand Mandarin.
This year, x-in-jiang plans to spend 50 million yuan ($7.7 million) on a training center for vagrant children. Minors who are willing and able to learn can receive free education and training, the relief management office of the region said in a statement.
"We will step up cooperation with vocational schools in x-in-jiang in the hopes that these youngsters can continue their education later on," it said.
In the past five years, the central government has spent 34.6 million yuan on 15 shelters, which can altogether accommodate more than 1,500 vagrant children in Hotan, Kashgar and Aksu.