China: 'Baby box' plan for unwanted newborns causes stir

A baby wrapped in towel at a Beijing hospital

A Chinese city's plan for a "baby box" where parents can anonymously leave their unwanted infants is proving controversial, it's reported.

Shenzhen has apparently applied to the Guangdong provincial authorities to pilot such a facility next year. Some social media users have warned that the box will encourage "irresponsible parents" to give away their unwanted children, the People's Daily newspaper says.

But the head of Shenzhen's social welfare centre, Tang Rongsheng, points out that nearly 100 abandoned infants have been handed over to his centre this year. "The shelter embodies the idea of prioritising the interest of the child," he says.

Shenzhen is not the only Chinese city to consider such a system. Shijiazhuang apparently launched one in 2011 and has since received 170 infants. Other cities are expected to follow suit, the Jiangsu Province web portal reports. Baby boxes, common in medieval Europe, are making a comeback in countries such as Germany. But the boxes have been criticised by the UN for violating the rights of children.

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