Toddlers and migrants — a crisis of trust in Beijing - SupChina

Toddlers and migrants — a crisis of trust in Beijing

Part of the daily SupChina newsletter. Subscribe for free

“What did the teacher do to my child?” Parents across China found themselves wondering if they may ever ask this nightmarish question over the weekend: allegations of abuses at an expensive Beijing kindergarten spread rapidly across the country, just weeks after similar news about a daycare center in Shanghai.

  • Many media reports of the latest case were censored, as were online rumors, some of which suggested a military connection to a pedophile ring.
  • That claim may be the imagination of a panicked parent or an internet troll, but with the state’s formidable censorship machinery at full throttle, it’s difficult to know what to believe.
  • Although strict censorship has been in place, many online reactions to the case have been reminiscent of social media commentary on the 2012 high-speed train crash, highlighting the lack of a sense of security that plagues Chinese society. One commenter on social media said (in Chinese) that “the cruel lesson” to be learned was that “no matter how proud you are of belonging to the middle class, sending your kids to private, expensive, and well-known schools will never guarantee their safety and health.”
  • We’ve rounded up everything we know about the case with a full selection of links on SupChina here.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s most vulnerable residents — migrant workers — had their own nightmares over the past week.

  • Nineteen people died in a fire in a shabby mixed residential-industrial area of Beijing on November 18. They were probably all migrants and their children.
  • The city government’s response was to step up safety inspections of construction sites and other potential fire hazards.
  • One results of the inspections has been evictions, announced with little or no notice, from buildings considered unsafe. Many of the affected individuals are migrant workers.
  • The evictions have added haste and force to a multi-year citywide campaign to reduce the population, and “clean up” informal construction and small businesses.
  • A public outcry by well-known intellectuals and on social media has erupted.
  • Get the full story with our SupChina roundup, and also see two series of photos from the scene: one by Peng Ziyang 彭子洋 of Beijing News 新京报, and another by Jady Liu 刘琦麟, who visited the neighborhood where it happened for SupChina on November 26.
Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.