Letter: China's orphanages need help, not sensationalist criticism

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The Independent Online
From Dr Christopher Williams

Sir: It is China's turn for the orphanage story. Perhaps the public will eventually realise that such horrors are not found in one, but many poor countries. The abuses happen equally to adults in institutions but the media are less interested.

Visiting their orphanages in 1992, I saw that the Chinese can create well-run, humane care settings - given cash and training opportunities. A large Japanese-funded disability centre in Peking would put many establishments in the UK to shame.

So is cash the answer? No, it simply permits the poor nations to use disadvantaged children as an international begging bowl, creating a disincentive for comprehensive action. The only viable approach is through trade not aid, but linked to human rights: "We will buy your shirts if you spend the profits on your orphanages." Sadly, among many, our government lacks the integrity to uphold this line effectively.

Yours faithfully,

Christopher Williams

Global Security Programme

University of Cambridge

Cambridge

10 January

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