http://www.unicef.org/rightsite/sowc/pdfs/panels/Child%20rights%20in%20China.pdf (44 KB)
The remainder of this post presents information about recent developments, the status of China's periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child and links to documents in English on Chinese Government websites.
Children's rights in Taiwan
After defeat in 1949 in the civil war against the Communist Party, Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Party (the Kuomintang) retreated to Taiwan and declared separate sovereignty as the "Republic of China". The People's Republic of China doesn't accept Taiwan's separate status and used its Veto at the United Nations to prevent Taiwan from joining the UN. Nevertheless, the Taiwan government has adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the basis for its Child Protection laws:
China / Macau / Hong Kong — Periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child
China ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in March 1992, followed by 2 optional protocols:
• Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (December 2002).
• Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (December 2007).
China: Initial report, May 1996. First periodic report, September 2005. The second periodic report was evaluated in September 2013, during the Committee's 64th session:
Macau: In 1887 Macau became a colony of the Portuguese empire. Sovereignty was transferred back to China in 1999. No reports for Macau were submitted by Portugal.
Hong Kong: In 1842 Hong Kong became a British colony. Sovereignty was transferred back to China in 1997. The United Kingdom submitted an initial report for Hong Kong to the CRC Committee. It was evaluated in September 1996.
The One Child Policy
It would be unwise to rely on secondary sources to learn about China's One Child Policy. It's a controversial topic, even within China, and has often been misrepresented by organizations in the West. The Population and Family Planning Law was first introduced in 1978, and a revised version came into force in 2002. There are exceptions to the rule of 'one child', as outlined by a minister from the Family Planning Commission in an interview on China's government authorized portal:
The text of the 2002 Population and Family Planning Law of the People's Republic of China can be found here:
During 2013, China's Ministry of Health and the National Population and Family Planning Commission will be merged. Responsibility for population policies will be transferred to the existing National Development and Reform Commission.
Child protection laws
China's administrative units are based on a three-tier system, dividing the nation into provinces, counties and townships:
Each administrative unit has its own statutes which conform to national laws. In 1991, the Standing Committee of the Seventh National People's Congress approved the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors, with some new Articles added to the Law in 2006:
Three Articles were re-worded in a 2012 amendment:
Corporal punishment and "disguised corporal punishment" are banned in all schools throughout the country. The term "disguised corporal punishment" is a shorthand for various forms of public humiliation. It originated in a directive authorized by Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution, as described below:
“Similar injunctions against the use of force were contained in a directive issued by the Military Affairs Commission on 28 January , a document said to have been drafted under the sponsorship of such senior military officials as Yeh Ching-ying, Hsu Hsiang-ch'ien, and Nieh Jung-chen, and then approved by Mao. The directive declared: "Arresting people at will without orders is not permitted; ransacking homes and stealing of doors at will is not permitted. It is not permitted to carry out corporal punishment or disguised corporal punishment, such as making people wear tall caps and black placards, parading them in the streets, forcing them to kneel, etc. Earnestly promote civil struggle, resolutely oppose struggle by force."”
The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 15, pp 175-6.
Editors: R. MacFarquhar and J.K. Fairbank.
© Cambridge University Press 1991.
Unlike some countries which have similar laws that are not enforced, the authorities in China take action when violations are brought to their attention. Here are two newspaper reports as examples: (1) China Daily, (2) People's Daily.
The rural / urban divide
UNICEF's 20th Anniversary edition of The State of the World's Children concluded its summary on China by saying:
“China faces the challenge of consolidating its gains in child rights and ensuring that growth is accompanied by diminishing disparities. In particular, it faces the task of meeting the material and protection needs of rural children, children affected by migration, and those living in the poor areas that are rapidly expanding around the major conurbations.”
The Ministry of Education has announced a nationwide assessment of conditions in elementary and junior
high schools with the aim of narrowing the gap in educational levels among the regions, commencing in May 2013 (source).
It has also been announced that city universities will allocate quotas for students from rural areas, including those residing with their migrant worker parents (source).