China's Ministry of Civil Affairs is working on a "Draft Regulation on the Assistance and Protection of Vagrant Minors" for approval by the State Council, or cabinet, an official said in Beijing Wednesday.
Gao Yueling, head of the ministry's social affairs bureau, said this regulation will help "complete the mechanism for the relief and protection of minors."
Gao said civil affairs authorities had offered aid in about 100,000 to 150,000 cases involving minor vagrants and beggars annually from August 2003 to the end of 2007.
Centers for homeless children and other relief shelters had offered assistance in 557,291 instances of homeless or begging minors, said Gao.
China has a total of 1 million vagrant and begging minors, according to a 2006 national survey by the National Working Committee on Women and Children under the State Council.
The protection of these minors had been the subject of public and official concern, but extending such protection had not been easy since the relief of homeless and destitute minors lacked clearly-defined legal authority, Gao explained.
To resolve these problems, relevant regulations in accordance with the Law on the Protection of Minors, enacted in 1991, needed clarification.
Seeking help from non-governmental entities was another approach, Gao said.
The Regulation on Measures for Assisting Vagrants and Beggars With No Assured Living Sources in Cities, issued by the State Council in 2003, provides that private-sector organizations and individuals are welcome to offer assistance, Gao said. The results of such practices in Beijing, Shanghai and Liaoning Province have been positive.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs and other departments will seek concrete measures for better protection of minor vagrants and beggars, Gao said.