BEIJING - A special fund to provide long-term help for a nationwide crackdown on child begging will be set up in the near future, a prominent campaigner announced over the weekend.
Yang Peng, secretary-general of the Shenzhen-based One Foundation, announced on his sina.com.cn micro blog on Saturday that a dedicated fund will be established and affiliated to the charitable organization.
The rescue campaign "needs to be more sustainable and more organized, which demands management and money", Yang was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.
The fund will help "transfer warm-hearted people's enthusiasm into sustainable aid", Yang wrote on his micro blog.
The move was announced after the development of the rescue campaign was discussed by more than 30 activists, including lawyers, scholars and celebrities, in Beijing on Saturday, according to the Xinhua report.
"We'll try to work out the details of this special fund including its missions and projects by March 8," Li Chengpeng, a critic and member of the preparatory committee of the fund, told China Daily on Sunday.
The fund will mainly sponsor child beggars returning to school, offer help to communities that receive the children, and provide basic financial support for volunteers participating in the campaign, Li said.
One Foundation has promised to allocate at least 200,000 yuan ($30,340) as the initial fund for the project, said Yu Jianrong, initiator of the campaign and a professor with the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Six organizers of the campaign have already pledged to donate 10,000 yuan each for the fund, he said.
Both civil affairs and public security departments are welcome to send their delegates to join the management team of the fund, he added. This would help facilitate cooperation and information sharing with the government, explained Yu.
Yu started an online appeal in late January asking netizens to take snapshots of child beggars on the streets and share the photos via micro blogs, as a way to help parents find their missing children.
The campaign soon attracted considerable attention from the public. With the support of police across the country, six abducted children have reportedly already been reunited with their families.
However, the root cause of child begging should also be considered when designing measures to help child beggars, Li said.
"This campaign cannot be called successful if it just stops at banning child begging and ignores the problems of child beggars," Li said.
"Poverty, no access to education and many other factors that force children into begging should be addressed, otherwise those children will be left in a worse situation."
A proposal to ban child begging and help those who have been rescued will be handed in during this year's plenary sessions of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee and the National People's Congress (NPC) to be held in March.
Given that abducted children are a significant source of child beggars, the proposal discussed on Saturday will suggest amending the current Criminal Law and setting harsher punishments for both child traffickers and sellers, according to media reports.
"Our main purpose is to increase the awareness of the country's top legislative organs on this issue and to call on different government departments to take concrete measures to guarantee all children's rights and send child beggars back home and make sure they can live a normal life again," Yu said.