According to the Information Office of the State Council, China is a country with 450 million web users; 125 million of them have set up microblogs. Now microblog (China Twitter) seems to be more than just a platform for people to catch up with friends. Its use is being further explored by the Chinese netizens. For example, police department uses the microblog to help improve its image. State media have reported that at least 500 police departments have set up microblogs, sharing information of safety and details of their work. Recently the power of microblogging is applied to rescue abducted children begging on the street.
Yu Jianrong’s microblog for the campaign
During the China’s Spring Festival, an internet-based campaign to help parents find their abducted children has attracted attention nationwide. The campaign is initiated by Yu Jianrong (于建嵘), a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who in his own microblog calls on web users to snap photos of the children beggars and share it on Sina microblog platform so that the photos may be matched with police databases or recognized by parents.
(Peng Gaofeng found his son through the help of netizens’ microblogging.)
The campaign first became a center of attention on Feb 8th, when it helped a father found his missing son who was abducted 3 years ago. Compared to many other bereft and heartbroken parents who are still looking for their children, Peng Gaofeng, the father is lucky enough to get reconnected with his son during the Spring Festival, China’s most important time for family reunion. In about ten days, more than 1000 photos are uploaded. Thanks to the microblog campaign, till now 6 families are reunited.
Abduction of children has been a long-time problem in China. After kidnapped, most of the children will be sold to couple who has no children. In other cases, they will be tortured and forced to beg on the street and become milch cows for kidnappers.
The campaign has gained wide support; Yu Jianrong’s microblog has now 20 thousand followers. However, there is also concerned voice. Children beggars are not all abducted children. In some cases, the children are sent to beg for money by their own parents. In these cases, uploading their photos will be an infringement of their portrait right and privacy right. Some people suggest, web users should stay calm and be rational when they see children beggars on the street. The first thing they should do is to call 110 for police instead of taking out their camera. Also, the campaign to end abduction crimes should not turn into a fight against all street beggars.