China among best in Asia for children

Children from countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative pose on Wednesday in Beijing for a photo with comic book hero Iron Man at an event marking International Children's Day, which falls on Thursday.
PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

China was ranked as the best developing country for children in Asia, with its children experiencing the safest and happiest childhoods, according to a report released on Thursday, International Children Day.

The report - Stolen Childhoods - evaluated countries with a range of indicators related to childhood, from safety to health.

Norway and Slovenia topped the index while Niger ranked last.

Of 172 countries, China ranked 41st overall, ahead of Vietnam (92), the Philippines (96), Myanmar (112) and India (116), according to the report by Save the Children - an international nongovernmental organisation that promotes children's rights and supports children in developing countries.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the infant mortality rate in China dropped from 1.31 per cent in 2010 to 0.81 per cent in 2015.

By last year, the vaccination rate for children under 18 years old reached 99 per cent, achieving the aim set by the Outline Program for Development of Chinese Women and Children (2011-20).

The number of children's welfare institutes grew from 335 in 2010 to 478 in 2015.

During the same period, 130 centres for rescuing and protecting children and adolescents were built nationwide.

"China performed relatively strongly across the board, boasting low rates of early marriage and teenage pregnancy," said Wang Chao, Save the Children's country director.

Over the past decade, China has established a series of laws and regulations promoting the development of children, including implementing the Improving Child Nutrition Project in rural areas and strengthening the protection system for children left behind by parents who leave rural areas to find work in cities.

"Given these tremendous improvements in children's well-being, it's not surprising that China ranked in the top quarter of all countries analysed," Wang said.

However, Wang said China is the biggest developing country in the world and there is still a significant difference between the well-being of children living in urban and rural parts of the country.

"There is still a long way to go in improving children's survival and development compared with most developed countries," he said.

Since 2010, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has launched pilot programs that provide support for child welfare directors in some residential areas to help children in need and prevent child abuse.

In June last year, the State Council, China's Cabinet, released a notice to make sure that every village in the country has a children's welfare director.

"Further efforts should be made to improve the service quality," said Tong Xiaojun, dean of the Research Institute of Children and Adolescents at China Youth University for Political Sciences.

"Services for children need professionals, which China still lacks. The government should provide more training and specialised services," she said.

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