Chinese government has issued new guidelines to protect children in
rural areas whose parents have moved to cities to work.
An estimated 61 million children are "left behind" by their migrant
Many people can only access public services in the villages they come
from, so migrant workers’ children stay behind to keep up their
Rural governments will be asked to monitor the welfare of children who
Parents will be encouraged to take their children with them when
In 2013 a spate of sex abuse cases involving "left-behind" children
Millions of migrant workers have moved from the Chinese countryside to
cities in recent decades. The World Bank predicts that by 2030, up to
70% of Chinese people will live in cities.
Many children are left with extended family members but circumstances
force some to live alone.
In June 2015 four "left-behind" siblings died of apparent pesticide
poisoning. They were all under the age of 14 and their parents had left
the village in search of work. The police did not rule out suicide.
In December the Chinese government announced it would offer residency
status to some of the migrant workers who have moved from rural areas in
It means migrants will be entitled to use public services, such as
health and education, where they live, rather than in the villages they
They will be able to apply if they can show proof of work, study or
housing in a city for six months.
Under the hukou system of household registration, all Chinese people
must be classed as either urban or rural. The hukou system was set up in
the 1950s to control the movement of people between cities and the
Until the changes are fully implemented, rural governments are being
told to support these children, says the BBC’s Celia Hatton - a
difficult challenge for overburdened and underfunded officials.