Two health officials in Quanzhou, Guangxi province have been suspended for ignoring an alleged case of child abduction in the 1990s.
In early July, the child's parents called for police in Guangxi province to investigate the case, which they failed to do when the child was initially reported missing almost 30 years ago.
However, a local health department in Quanzhou wrote a letter in response in which they said that the child had been removed from the parent's custody due to “social relocation,” which was used during China’s one-child policy.
The letter quickly went viral on social media, and sparked national outrage. Netizens and media outlets questioned whether the missing child was a victim of kidnapping or human trafficking, or whether the whole scenario was someone abusing their power.
Local media claims that Tang and Deng, the boy’s parents, have been looking for him ever since he went missing.
Tang and Deng have also called for local officials in office at the time that the boy went missing to be investigated.
According to the BBC, on 5 July, the Guilin People's Government put out a letter saying the Quanzhou health bureau had "improperly handled a petition that aroused social concern."
The deputy director and director of the health department were subsequently suspended.
During China’s one-child policy, people who had more than one child were punished with a fine. But it was also common for local governments to implement their own forms of punishment.
On July 1, the health department claimed the child had been removed from the parents due to social relocation for breaching the one-child policy (despite this being the family’s seventh child, and them having only been fined for breaking the law previously).
Authorities added that there was no record of children who were relocated during this time or their whereabouts.
Netizens quickly began questioning the term, with one saying: "What do they mean social reallocation? Isn't this human trafficking?"
The hashtag related to the story, #QuanzhouOverBornKidCaseBeenReportedtoGovernment gained almost 60 million views before it was removed from Weibo.
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