Around Asia: Chinese service offers to mail children home for New Year

The eastern Chinese city of Qingdao is offering “children mail” services that would send children of migrant workers home in time for the Lunar New Year holidays for free.

Around this time, parents are faced with the problem of taking their children home before the holiday rush. Many of them have a few more days at work before they can return home in time for the celebrations.

The services allows busy parents to send their children under the care of bus drivers and stewards, said Jiang Shiqun, Communist Party secretary of the Qingdao long-distance bus station.

A video surveillance system will also help ensure parents their children are safe, Xinhua news agency reports.

Meanwhile, staff on the bus will exchange “codes” with the relatives waiting to pick up the children to ensure that kids don’t end up in the wrong hands.

This highlights the common setup for Chinese families in which both parents are away at work while children are left with guardians or their grandparents.

Most of the children are left behind because of China’s strict household registration system which often prevents migrant children from attending decent urban schools or getting health care in the cities where their parents are working.

About 61 million of the so-called “left behind” children seldom see their parents for at least three months at a time: or sometimes even years.

Some Chinese citizens were skeptical of the service, saying that leaving their children with strangers would be too risky.

Others lamented that the service should be expanded to the migrant workers themselves to make it home for the holidays.

“It will be even better if adults can be mailed too,” a user wrote on Sina Weibo. “Many migrant workers are too poor to go home.”

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: Alex Chiang/Flickr

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