MOTIVATED by the plight of injured street children, a man became a beggar for two months in Shenzhen to learn about their circumstances.
In a 20,000-word investigative report of his observations circulating at the highest levels of the government, he said the handlers of the kids often intentionally injured them to increase the kids’ fundraising value. Further, loopholes in urban management have failed to prevent many cruelly injured children from begging in the streets of big cities, he said.
Cao Dacheng, 76, who lived in the city of south China’s Guangdong Province, pretended to be a beggar to investigate the issue beginning in late 2005, the Outlook Weekly reported yesterday.
Cao’s report was handed to Premier Wen Jiabao in August, raising central government officials’ concerns.
Cao said he saw a little boy crouching on the ground to beg one day in November last year near the Shenzhen Gymnasium. When Cao tried to awake the boy to learn his story, a woman hiding nearby stopped him.
The woman told him the boy suffered from a brain disease and could not be awakened, asking Cao not to meddle in their affairs.
Cao soon found many begging children were unable to move or talk, and could only sleep on the ground.
For his investigation, he disguised himself as a beggar, carrying a wooden stick and a bowl for alms.
Most beggars haunting the downtown area came from central China’s Henan Province. Cao said he once stayed there and could speak Henan dialect, which helped him become an acquaintance of the beggars soon.
He visited a man, who was considered the richest beggar in Shenzhen. The man always controlled three to four sick or handicapped children, intimidating them into begging.
Cao said the man broke arms or legs of the children he had abducted to make them look miserable. The more miserable it looked, the more people would give to these children, the man believed.
When the children turned seriously ill, they often disappeared mysteriously and some new cruelly injured children would appear, Cao said.
He was told the man could earn 200,000 to 300,000 yuan a year, noting the Shenzhen Funeral Home cremated 286 abandoned dead children last year.
He once reported what he found in the investigation to authorities, but what he received most were uncaring responses, he said.