Beijing Kindergarten Is Accused of Abuse, and Internet Erupts in Fury

 In U.S.

A Chinese military commissar, Feng Junfeng, issued an extraordinary statement adamantly denying rumors that People’s Liberation Army officers were implicated in the alleged sexual abuse. Those who spread the rumors, he warned, would be pursued for “legal culpability.”

Chinese censors often expunge comments that could provoke criticism of the government or stir unrest. But they appeared incapable of silencing the eruption of emotion this time.

“Calling on everyone to save these children! Demand justice for these children!” said one of the accounts that spread rapidly on WeChat and Weibo, popular social media services.

In China, few topics ignite as much passion and worry as the well-being of children. The concerns universal to all parents have been magnified here by the one-child policy, which until its recent relaxation restricted most urban couples to one son or daughter.

The visceral fury about the reports has laid bare the distrust that many feel about rigid, harsh, even abusive conditions in schools and what many see as a lack of official accountability when children are mistreated. Even Xinhua, China’s state-run news service, which often defends the government, felt compelled to demand answers.

“Looking over the cases of child abuse in recent years, one can’t help but ask: How did people utterly devoid of pedagogic morals or even professional qualifications creep into the teaching profession?” said an editorial about the allegations issued by Xinhua on Thursday.

“If this happened only occasionally, it could be put down to personal factors. But these incidents happen again and again, and must draw high-level attention,” it said. “The departments concerned must show a highly responsible attitude toward society and the future.”

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