Fearing damage to the Party’s reputation of caring for the most vulnerable, a private orphanage that sheltered and placed disabled children is shuttered.
A Christian children’s orphanage in Shanghai, China’s biggest city, was forcibly closed down by the Chinese Communist Party authorities in early summer accused of being engaged in “gang-related” activities.
The harassment of the private charity welfare home for children began in early 2018. Based on policies and documents originating from Beijing, Shanghai’s Civil Affairs Bureau, Justice Bureau, and other related departments ordered the manager of the orphanage to close the home by a specific date or face legal consequences. Authorities cited as the cause that the orphanage was “gang-related” and involved in illegal operations. Sources tell Bitter Winter that the welfare home was placed on one of the top three positions on the city’s “gang crime crackdown list.”
In May, the Shanghai Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau demolished the welfare home’s supporting facilities and forcibly closed the home. The orphanage had no choice but to send the four remaining children under their care back to their respective birthplaces.
One employee speculated about why the orphanage was targeted. “Children with disabilities are the weakest group in all of society. This is the CCP’s most sensitive nerve because failure to defend such children would hurt the reputation of the Communist Party. The authorities don’t want any private entity or individual to embarrass the Party in this area.”
According to an employee, the orphanage crossed two Chinese red lines simultaneously. “Running a welfare home to adopt disabled children violated the CCP’s policy banning individuals and groups from privately adopting orphans with disabilities. And we were helping the disabled children in the name of the Christian faith. These two ‘offenses’ drove authorities to close us down.”
This children’s welfare home was built in 2011 by Taiwanese-American Chen Youfu (a pseudonym) and his wife, along with co-workers at a local church. Chen Youfu and his wife were deported in October 2012 as part of the ongoing persecution of foreign missionaries.
After the Chens were deported, the other church members worked hard to finish the orphanage. In early 2013, the home was opened and registered with the Civil Affairs Bureau of Putuo District, Shanghai. From 2013 to 2018, the home took in about 50 children with disabilities. All of these children received treatment for their illnesses, and most of them were adopted by Christian families in China and abroad through formal legal channels.
An insider tells Bitter Winter that the Shanghai Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau joined forces with seven departments, including the Bureau for Industry and Commerce and the Public Security Bureau, to make things difficult for the orphanage. Multiple regulatory and administrative actions or charges were brought against the charity. For example, in late 2013, authorities sought to close the orphanage on the grounds that it was engaged in “cross-regional operations.”
To ensure that the orphanage could continue operating, the home’s management proactively sought to comply with every possible administrative or regulatory requirement: they reported the home’s financial revenue and expenses, obtained all certificates and followed all procedures related to the adoption of children, and reported every detail to the local Civil Affairs Bureau. Nevertheless, the home was unable to escape the CCP’s suppression and was closed.
According to one source, “This (starting a charity for children) is legal abroad, but it’s illegal in China.” He added that the government would not directly say that the orphanage was closed due to religious beliefs; instead, the government made all kinds of excuses to designate the welfare home as being illegal.
To the Party’s critics, the effort to hide the real motivation for closing the orphanage cannot obscure a simple fact: In today’s China, the need to protect the reputation of the CCP – and the need to stop any other body such as the Christian church from improving its reputation relative to the CCP – justifies sacrificing regular citizens and leaving them defenseless. In this case, it was disabled children sacrificed to the needs of the Party.
Reported by Jiang Tao