|A 2021 trial for a murder case, which was livestreamed on China Court Trial Online. Image credit: Kaifeng Intermediate People's Court, Henan Province|
|Year||No. of Acquittals of ESS Crimes|
|A 2021 trial for a murder case, which was livestreamed on China Court Trial Online. Image credit: Kaifeng Intermediate People's Court, Henan Province|
|Year||No. of Acquittals of ESS Crimes|
|Three Chinese nationals were executed in a public sentencing rally in Wa State, a Chinese-speaking region in Northern Myanmar on May 14, 2020. Image credit: The Paper|
|A group of 14 drug traffickers were sentenced in what a Shenzhen court called a “public sentencing rally” on June 23, 2020. Image credit: Shenzhen News Network website|
|Four defendants received judgments in a public sentencing rally convened by the Pingnan County People’s Court of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region as part of the campaign to combat environmental pollution. Photo image: Pingnan County People’s Court website|
|Twenty-two criminal suspects were hauled into a sentencing rally attended by over 200 people in Yancheng, Jiangsu on October 28, 2020. Image credit: China Central Television|
|(Top to bottom) Dozens of Hainan school students, all seen wearing uniforms and face masks, sat in rows in a public sentencing rally held at the Danzhou District People’s Court on April 24, 2020. Image credit: The Paper|
|An outdoor rally in Donglan County, Guangxi, on June 28, 2020, during which alleged criminals were publicly arrested and sentenced. Image credit: Wei Hao / Weixin|
|Junhong Lu giving the “Grand Dharma Talk” in Singapore’s National Stadium in 2017. Image credit: Ginny Gray / CC BY-SA 4.0|
In March 2022, Dui Hua released a study titled “The Persecution of Unorthodox Religious Groups in China” identifying 41 religious groups whose members are at risk of arrest and imprisonment. Dui Hua has since uncovered another unorthodox religious group called Xinling Famen (心灵法门) that is facing similar repression. Other recently uncovered unorthodox groups include Corporate Christ (团体基督), which is thought to have splintered from the Church of Almighty God (全能神), and the House of Joseph (约瑟家), which originated from the Spirit Church (灵灵教).
Xinling Famen, also known as the Guanyin Citta Dharma Door, is among the newly emerged Buddhist groups which have gained traction in China and overseas. Its founder Lu Junhong (卢军宏, aka Richard Lu) was born in 1959 in Shanghai, studied in Sydney, and eventually obtained Australian citizenship. After graduating from university in the 1990s, Lu promoted Buddhism and traditional Chinese culture while serving as a director of Australia Oriental Media Group, a Chinese-language radio station operated in Sydney. In 2010, Lu founded Xinling Famen. The group has gained popularity among Chinese immigrants in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
According to public statements made by Chinese government agencies, Xinling Famen has attracted three million followers. The group, however, claims to have as many as seven million members worldwide, and hundreds of thousands tune in daily to listen to Lu’s ideas online. Lu’s teachings were reportedly introduced to China in 2009, one year before the group was founded.
While Xinling Famen describes itself as a Buddhist group, its worship style is similar to that of some Pentecostal churches and charismatic healing cults, according to Chinese Religions Going Global. Adherents are said to burst into tears with their arms outstretched as Lu performs spiritual healing. Lu instructed his followers to read different combinations of sutras from Buddhist canons known as “little houses” to get rid of bad karma. He also provided a list of specific rules that followers must abide by in order to maximize good karma.
Nevertheless, China’s anti-cult propaganda accuses Lu of appropriating Buddhist terms to mobilize a cultic movement centered on his personality. Lu called himself a reincarnation of Guanyin Bodhisattva and said that he had divine power to read one’s totems (referring to Chinese zodiac signs) in heaven and see a person’s past, present, and future. Lu is also said to have amassed a fortune by selling “little houses” and charging exorbitant apprenticeship fees. China imposed an entry ban on Lu before he passed away from illness in November 2021.
|A Xinling Famen center in Ashfield, Australia. Image credit: Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door Facebook page|
Xinling Famen also stirred up controversy overseas. Buddhist communities from Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong have claimed that Lu’s healing power is a complete fabrication and that his so-called divine power deviates from mainstream Buddhist ideology. Despite the controversy, China remains the only place in the world where Xinling Famen members are arrested and imprisoned.
Promoting the “Chinese Dream”
Lu’s Australia Oriental Media Group (AOMG) had an intricate relationship with Chinese state media in its infancy. Prior to the radio station’s official launch in December 2007, state media including China News Service lauded it as a new force of the ever-expanding Chinese language media in Australia and the first such radio station operated in Sydney established by a mainland Chinese immigrant. Less than two years later, in the summer of 2009, China National Radio (CNR) announced that it had signed a content collaboration agreement with AOMG, under which AOMG would broadcast some CNR regular programs and conduct local interviews for CNR special programs.
|Agreement signing ceremony between CNR and AOMG on July 4, 2009, in Sydney. Zhao Hui, then vice president of CNR (standing) and Lu (seated left of Zhao) attended. Image credit: CNR|
In October 2013, Lu and Xinling Famen appeared in an interview profile conducted by a former People’s Daily correspondent for Aust333, another Chinese-language media outlet based in Sydney. The profile mentioned that Lu received a “British Community Honours Award” in 2012, repeating Lu’s false claim that it was awarded by the UK House of Lords. In fact, the award is given by a UK-registered charity that holds the ceremony at the House of Lords. The profile also praised Lu for promoting Chinese culture through his radio station and his Buddhist organization.
The interview ended by asking Lu how Xinling Famen would contribute to Xi Jinping’s idea of the “Chinese Dream.” Lu responded with talking points typically seen in Chinese propaganda, saying that the realization of the dream was “of greater and far-reaching significance to those of us overseas Chinese living overseas and leaders of overseas Chinese circles” and that “only when the country is strong, we overseas Chinese will be prouder and not be bullied.” He further stated that realizing the dream “requires the selfless dedication of Chinese people all over the world” and closed by discussing Xinling Famen’s recent event in Taiwan as an example of how the organization could promote cross-Strait understanding and would contribute to the realization of the “Chinese Dream.”
|Lu (second from left) with a group of Chinese delegates during a visit to Sydney: Zhan Yannong (third from left), then president of People’s Daily; Ambassador Li Huaxin (fifth from left), then Chinese Consul General in Sydney, and Xue Meng (far right), then head of People.cn Australia. Date unknown. Image credit: Aust333|
Within two years of the interview, the relationship had soured. State Media started to label Xinling Famen as a cult, Lu’s books were banned, and his dubious awards came into question.
Conviction under Article 300
The first known case of imprisonment involving Xinling Famen was concluded in Inner Mongolia in 2015. The Ewenki Minority Autonomous Banner People’s Court convicted a woman surnamed Meng of “organizing a cult to undermine implementation of the law,” and gave her to a suspended sentence of three years. This is the only case with information in Dui Hua’s Political Prisoner Database in which a Xinling Famen member was convicted of Article 300.
The court judgment stated that Meng converted to Xinling Famen in July 2014. In December, police searched her home and found 133 “cultic” books and 37 copies of CD-ROMS she stored in a refrigerator and a cupboard. That same month, police confiscated 100 copies of publicity materials that Meng was preparing to mail out from a supermarket.
The punishment in this case is considered lenient because Meng admitted her guilt. The court mitigated her prison sentence also because the books and publicity materials had not yet been publicly circulated.
Illegal Business Activity Convictions
Dui Hua has obtained three more court judgments involving Xinling Famen members. They were convicted not of Article 300, but of conducting illegal business activity which is typically used against the printing of the Bible and other religious publications. The three cases were all concluded in December 2016.
In the first case, five Xinling Famen members received criminal punishment ranging from suspended sentences to five years in prison in Neixiang County, Henan, for printing 101,480 copies books worth ￥276,494. Although the publishing company owned by one of the defendants only made a profit of ￥28,480, the court ordered that each of the defendants pay a fine of ￥30,000.
The longest prison sentence of five years was given to Zhang Jianping, an apprentice of Lu Junhong. He admitted to printing books without a license. He stated in his defense that his original intent was to promote Buddhism and guide people towards a good path. He pleaded for leniency because his books were not reactionary, nor did he intend to profit from them financially. Guo Hui (郭辉), considered another principal offender in the case, received a four-year prison sentence. All the defendants have completed their prison sentences as of this writing.
The second case, also concluded in Neixiang County, involved three defendants: Wang Xiaoyan (王小燕), Xia Songzhi (夏松芝), and Li Kehua (栗克华). Only Wang was known to be an adherent of Xinling Famen; she completed a five-year prison sentence on January 5, 2021. She received a remittance of over ￥300,000 from Xinling Famen members across China and entrusted Xia and Li to print 154,230 copies of books.
Xia and Lu were the print shop owners and each of them received a suspended sentence of three years. Available sources did not state whether Xia and Lu were members of Xinling Famen.
|A screenshot of Xinling Famen materials offered through the organization's website. Image credit: Xinling Famen eBooks|
The third case in Taiyuan, Shanxi only involved one male defendant. Liu Shuangjian (刘双建), also a printshop owner, was accused of printing 13,260 copies of Xinling Famen sutras and 3,780 copies of Buddhist books which were not related to Xinling Famen. The Taiyuan Intermediate People’s Court ruled that only the Xinling Famen sutras, but not the Buddhist books, were illegal. Liu received a ￥5,000 down payment for the order to print the Xinling Famen sutras. The standard of conviction does not necessarily require an intent to establish a profitable business, but in this case the court did not accept the other Buddhist books he printed as evidence because he did not gain any profit from them. Assuming Liu served his full term without a sentence reduction, Liu was released from prison on July 15, 2018.
Arrests & Prosecutions
Dui Hua’s research into legal documents also found three cases involving Xinling Famen illegal religious books. The fate of these individuals remains uncertain because Dui Hua is unable to confirm whether they were convicted and given fixed-term prison sentences.
In December 2016, Zhao Kun (赵坤) and Guo Hongmei (郭红梅) were prosecuted for illegal business activity in Tongshan District, Jiangsu. Zhao was accused of printing 30,000 volumes of Xinling Famen books worth approximately ￥60,000, while Guo allegedly printed 20,000 copies also worth around ￥60,000.
Evidence suggests that Xinling Famen has made inroads with Chinese ethnic minorities. A Hui mother surnamed Ma and her son surnamed Han were indicted in Ji’nan, Shandong, also for illegal business activity on May 17, 2018. The prosecutors alleged that they sold 175,467 copies of Xinling Famen books worth ￥534,889.85 in the 14 months since May 2016. When the duo was detained on July 4, 2017, police also discovered 103,838 copies of Buddhism in Plain Terms, a book authored by Lu Hongjun, in their residence, storeroom, factory, and vehicles. Given the large number of publications which had been in public circulation, they are unlikely to have been given lenient punishment.
|An outreach event in Malaysia. Image credit: Guan Yin Citta Dharma Buddhism Twitter account|
In the third case, Fan, a Han Chinese who resided in Urumqi, was criminally detained for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” on June 25, 2020, but the charge was changed to Article 300 on July 9. The indictment stated that Fan organized an illegal religious activity for Krishna, a major deity in Hinduism. Police found in his residence 127 copies of Yuandun Famen propaganda and six “cultic” Xinling Famen publications. (Yuandun Famen 圆顿法门 is another unorthodox Buddhist group which has been banned by the Chinese government since December 1999). Available sources did not explain a connection between Xinling Famen and the Hindu deity.
The cases discussed in this post indicate that Xinling Famen members accused of printing and selling religious books written by Lu Hongjung face criminal charges, including violating Article 300 and illegal business activity. These cases likely only represent a small portion of criminal cases, and Dui Hua believes that many more Xinling Famen members may have been prosecuted and sentenced in China, the only place in the world which criminalizes this unorthodox Buddhist group.
|The logo for the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which monitors compliance with the Convention, both of which are abbreviated as CEDAW. Image credit: UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights|
The number of women incarcerated in Chinese prisons has grown faster than the population of incarcerated men over the past decade, and women are disproportionately represented in criminal cases involving unorthodox religious groups. These are the main points highlighted by Dui Hua in its submission to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)’s review of China.
CEDAW, which also stands for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and is sometimes described as an “international bill of rights for women,” is the treaty and human rights instrument adopted by the United Nations that provides guidance for nations to combat discrimination faced by women. Nations that have signed and ratified CEDAW – which includes all but six UN member states – are required to submit reports to the Committee on their compliance with the Convention every four years. NGOs are invited to make submissions informing country reports, which Dui Hua did for China’s, considered during CEDAW’s 85th session in the week of May 8, 2023.
Dui Hua’s statement largely focused on female prisoners charged under Article 300, “organizing or using a cult to undermine implementation of the law.” The statement noted that women account for 8 percent of the prison population in China – a figure similar to that of the United States – but are thought to make up more than 40 percent of prisoners incarcerated for violating Article 300 from 1998-2016. More so, court records suggest that sentencing for these cases is comparatively harsh and that instances of clemency are rare. (The statement notes that there may have been an increase in clemency over the last two years but the lack of consistent data and transparency in legal processes makes this difficult to confirm.)
Charts 1 and 2: Gender breakdown of unorthodox religious prisoners accused of violating Article 300 in the PPDB as of March 31, 2023.*
|*Gender is not known for all cases. Image credit: The Dui Hua Foundation|
The submission builds on the research Dui Hua initially published in its report “The Persecution of Unorthodox Religious Groups in China,” which identified a gender imbalance in sentencing under Article 300. Dui Hua’s Political Prisoner Database (PPDB) holds records on 11,400 women who have been subject to coercive measures for violating Article 300 due to their participation in unorthodox religious groups, which the Chinese Communist Party regards as cult organizations practicing non-state sanctioned faiths.
The statement also noted that women are the main target of negative stereotypes in China’s anti-cult propaganda. This messaging often relies on stereotypes of middle-aged, rural women being “weak-willed and psychologically vulnerable” and more vulnerable to “coercion or monetary enticements from cult organizations.” Such messaging, which comes from both national and regional organizations, itself seems to violate Article 5 of CEDAW which mandates that state parties take all appropriate measures to eliminate “prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.”
|An image from the opening session of CEDAW’s 85th session on May 8, 2023. Image credit: UN Web TV|
Another focus of Dui Hua’s submission to China’s state report was the decline in judicial transparency. Dui Hua ended its submissions by recommending that the Chinese government increase the use of non-custodial measures and clemency for women prisoners and improve judicial transparency, writing:
Dui Hua urges the Chinese government to resume providing meaningful access for the public to judicial documents, including indictments, court judgments, and decisions of all cases, regardless of the criminal offense involved. Transparency is particularly lacking in provinces with high populations of ethnic minorities. It also helps the public understand the reasons why women are placed in custody for peacefully pursuing their religious faith and other criminal offenses.
This is not the first time Dui Hua has made a statement to a UN body concerning China’s treatment of female prisoners. Dui Hua previously made submissions to CEDAW during China’s previous review in 2014 and, more recently, to the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice in June 2019.
Of the 193 UN member states, 189 have ratified CEDAW, binding them to the treaty and mandating that they participate in regular review every four years. The United States has not ratified CEDAW, placing it among a small group of countries – Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga, Palau – and the Holy See that have yet to bind themselves to the treaty.
|Barkhor Square in Lhasa, Tibet, on 22 September 2008. Image credit: Reurinkjan / CC BY 2.0|
Protests swept across the Tibetan plateau ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. More than a decade later, China continues to track down and punish pro-independence protesters who took part in the unrest, some episodes of which turned deadly. An indictment uncovered by Dui Hua reveals how one protester was ultimately found and punished years after their alleged crime.
This case revolves around a Tibetan known by the name of Kelsang Cheron (格桑谢郎) who was accused of robbery. He was formally arrested on October 18, 2019 in Zhuoni County, Gansu, for a crime he allegedly committed 11 years ago during the Tibetan protests that began on March 17, 2008. The case was transferred to the procuratorate for prosecution on January 7, 2020.
|Cropped image of the indictment confirming that arrest of Kelsang Cheron in October 2019 for robbery. His name was partially redacted, but the full name was revealed later in the indictment.|
|Cropped image of the indictment showing the facts pertaining to Cheron’s crime of robbery. There is no evidence that Cheron engaged in looting or using force or intimidation, important requirements for the crime in many other jurisdictions outside of China.|
Similarly, the indictment did not say whether the Tibetan monks looted anything valuable. However, evidence is cited of them damaging public property. They allegedly set fire and threw bricks and stones, destroying more than four million yuan worth of property such as fences, gates, computers, televisions, vehicles, and various data files. During the destruction, some protesters entered a primary school where they lowered the Chinese national flag and replaced it with the Snow Lion flag, which remained hoisted for days until police took the flag down on March 20.
|In May 2008, Tibetans in Dharamsala, India, protest China’s occupation while holding the Snow Lion flag. Image credit: Kiran Jonnalagadda / CC BY 2.0|
The case of Cheron calls into question of the allegations of robbery, a crime many Tibetan monks were also accused of violating in 2008. Official accounts of his case bear resemblance to some of the problematic evidence about “beating, smashing, looting and burning” by pro-democracy protesters in 1989, with a notable example being Wang Jun (王军). Wang, 18 years old at the time, was caught at the scene during the April disturbance in Xi’an. In May, the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court convicted Wang for arson and robbery and sentenced him to death for the two crimes. Upon appeal, the Shaanxi High Court, following the review instruction from the Supreme People’s Court, revised the combined sentence to death with two-year reprieve. The crime of robbery, which afforded him a life sentence, stemmed from Wang allegedly “taking advantage of the unrest and stealing an electronic calculator, cassette tapes, and pens.” Wang ultimately spent a total of twenty years in Shaanxi’s Fuping Prison before he was released in May 2009.
Common charges against Tibetan protesters who participated in the 2008 unrest include robbery, arson, and gathering a crowd to disturb social order or to attack state organs. In the same year, the number of people tried for splittism nationwide doubled from 459 in the previous year to 926. By now, many of these Tibetan protesters are believed to have completed their prison sentences, but the fate of Kelsang Cheron remains shrouded in mystery. Dui Hua has been unable to find the judgment of his case. Given the abysmally low acquittal rates and his refusal to confess, it is likely that Kelsang Cheron is still behind bars for a disputable crime that he committed 14 years ago.
|Image credit: The Dui Hua Foundation|
The revised Law of the People’s Republic of China on Protection of Minors (hereafter Protection of Minors Law) came into effect in June 2021, introducing 60 new articles into law. During Dui Hua’s Joint Program on Child Welfare Laws (JPCW) webinar in April 2022, experts from the United States and the Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC) discussed best practices for child protection legislation and the revisions to the Protection of Minors Law across six protection areas. Part I explored the roles of family and schools in child protection. This installment looks at the roles assigned to broader society, online content providers, government, and the judiciary.
Child Protection Online
China’s regulation of youth gaming online drew international attention, partly because these measures were among the first of their kind. Even countries that balk at online censorship and lack of user privacy have expressed positive attitudes towards China’s efforts to set limits on youth online consumption.
Much of this has been necessitated by the nation’s high internet penetration. According to the white paper Youth of China in a New Era, at the end of 2020 the number of netizens in China aged 6 to 18 reached 180 million, with the internet available to 94.9 percent of minors nationwide.
|Number of Chinese minors and internet accessibility rate from 2018 to 2020. Source: China Daily, Full Text: Youth of China in the New Era|
|Former Facebook product manager Frances Heughen testifying to Congress on the effects of social media on youth mental health. Image credit: C-Span YouTube account|
|(Clockwise top left) Judge Wang, Deputy Director Li, Judge Song, and Committee Member Chen during the JPCW. Image credit: The Dui Hua Foundation|
In 2021, Beijing News reported that 24,035 criminal cases involving the infringement upon the rights and interests of minors (including trafficking, child molestation, and forced begging) were tried nationwide between 2016 and 2020. Of those cases, 24,386 offenders received punishment. From 2016 to 2020, more than 1.2 million civil cases involving the upbringing and guardianship of minors were brought to trial.
The amendments to the Protection of Minors Law speak to an increased awareness by the Supreme People’s Court and the Chinese government that China’s youth face new challenges to their welfare that require novel approaches. These amendments also call on government social service agencies to improve the quality of support received by minors without guardianship. Li Chen, speaking during the JPCW shared that in 2021 13 authorities including the Ministry of Civil Affairs – which houses the Department of Children’s Welfare Affairs – jointly issued Opinions on Further Promoting Improvement, Upgrade and Innovation-Driven Transformation of Child Welfare Institutions to Pursue High-Quality Development. The opinions aimed to improve child welfare institutions at the provincial and municipal levels, and to foster increased integration between the upbringing of children and wraparound services like community-based medical treatment, rehabilitation, education, and social work.
The Protection of Minors Law differs from the United States' approach to juvenile justice and child welfare, which is defined both by its child-focused, rights-based approach and its federalist orientation that creates variations between states with some federal regulation. By contrast, Beijing’s top-down approach stresses uniformity, setting responsibilities for various stakeholders to ensure compliance at the local level. A lingering question is how far the law will go in holding parents, schools, and other community stakeholders responsible for violations and derogations of child welfare.
The Youth of China in the New Era white paper paints a rosy picture of the future of child welfare in China:
In the future, with successive efforts from one generation of young people to the next, China will scale new heights in every dimension, achieving economic, political, cultural, ethical, social, and eco-environmental progress. The Chinese people will enjoy a happier and healthier life and the Chinese nation will become a proud and active member of the community of nations. The great Chinese Dream will eventually become a reality.
The continued emphasis on rule of law and legal responsibility is evident in the changes to the Protection of Minors Law. What is less clear is if these changes will yield a system that is fair, enforceable, and subject to rule of law in line with that Chinese Dream.
An All-of-Society Effort
The revised Protection of Minors Law also recognizes broader societal obligations to protect minors. Article 11 grants any organization or individual "the right to discourage, prevent, or report or make an accusation against an act...which is not conducive to the physical or mental health of minors or infringes upon the lawful rights and interests of minors.” These regulations share many of the same principles as those placed on schools and educational institutions. Using sexual or physical abuse as an example, Article 9 of the Opinion on Punishing Sexual Violations of Minors in Accordance of Law (2013) states that anyone with a special responsibility to minors – including supervising, educating, training, or providing medical treatment – has a right and obligation to report to the public security organ or the people's procuratorate if they discover that a minor under their supervision has been abused.
As with the obligations for schools, the Protection of Minors Law’s view to societal obligations has similarities to CAPTA in the United States; however, by making reporting a legal responsibility through national legislation, China’s law potentially elevates the issue and could help create a uniform process for reporting, response, and resolution. Currently in the United States, each state may or does have different definitions, processes and responses to any reported abuse, of any kind. According to a 2019 report by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, approximately 47 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands designate professions whose members are mandated by law to report child maltreatment. Individuals designated as mandatory reporters are those who typically have frequent contact with children. The circumstances under which a mandatory reporter must make a report, and the process for doing so, vary by state.
|President Obama signs S. 3817, the “CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010.” Image credit: Pete Souza / Official White House Photo|
According to China Daily, Chinese procuratorates nationwide prosecuted 60,553 people for crimes against minors in 2021, up 5.7 percent year-on-year, of which 27,851 were for crimes involving sexual assault against minors. The Opinions on Establishing the Compulsory Reporting System for Cases regarding Infringement on Minors (Provisional) is meant to combat this trend by standardizing the compulsory reporting procedure system and specifying the parties considered mandated reporters. The reporting procedures enabled procuratorates, public security organs, and women's federations to set up more than 1,600 "one-stop" interview and rescue areas to shield minor victims from "secondary injuries" or re-traumatization that can occur during the reporting process.
The revisions to the Protection of Minors Law reflect renewed appreciation for the role of society in protecting minors. The European Union’s Civil Society Roadmap for China notes that the revised Protection of Minors Law makes 13 mentions of “social organizations.” Furthermore, a State Council working group was established to assist civil society organizations focused on child protection in an effort to “achieve full coverage” of child protection by civil society organizations by 2025.
Achieving such comprehensive child welfare mechanisms remains a challenge for any government. China’s recent developments reflect a top-down, all-of-government mentality that outlines obligations for all stakeholders, from the parent who might have to leave their child with relatives to centralized government bodies. China’s approach speaks to the adage that it “takes a village to raise a child,” and both the JPCW presenters and the legislation suggest that there is room for civil society organizations and grassroots participation. Whether or not these entities have the space and agency to fill these roles remains to be seen.
The information in both parts of this article was gathered over the past year since the JPCW concluded. Dui Hua continues its dialogue with the SPC in an effort to stay abreast of developments and best practices for juvenile justice reform and the improvement of child welfare systems. These are areas in which countries the world over struggle to identify policies that will meaningfully address the issues facing youth, and dialogue on these issues is a reminder that sound child welfare policies help pave the way for a bright future.