Chinese village ‘in lockdown’ as parents sue government over lost child


A rural village in northern China has reportedly been placed under “curfew” after a disabled couple accused the local government of masterminding the abduction of their 11-day-old baby.

Authorities imposed the lockdown as Liu Laogen, 64, and his 50-year-old wife, Xia Fengge, spoke for the first time about their daughter being snatched from them by officials they say were working for the family planning bureau almost 20 years ago. The case is the latest to underline the human cost of China’s one-child policy and the appalling abuses that it has spawned, including forced abortions and child abductions.

The baby was Xia’s third and relations believe family planning officials decided to take the girl in order to discourage other locals from breaking China’s one-child policy.

Eighteen years on, with the baby’s whereabouts still a mystery, the parents are suing local authorities over the disappearance in the hope of uncovering the truth. “We don’t expect to get our child back. We just want to know whether she is still alive,” Xia said. “All we want is one small glimpse of her so we can die peacefully.”

However, the couple’s decision to go public with their case appears to have infuriated officials from Qiaonan village in Hebei’s Anxin county where they live.

Wednesday, their son, Liu Lingqun, told The Daily Telegraph: “We now have a curfew in the village and reporters are not allowed to enter. My parents have been feeling unwell over the last few days and didn’t sleep at all last night.” Liu said officials had offered his parents “compensation” of up to 200,000 yuan (about pounds 2,000) if they abandoned the case. “They have also tried to restrict my freedoms and have closely monitored our house.”

Lin Feng, the couple’s Beijing-based lawyer, confirmed the report.

“The village has had a lockdown since last night and strangers are not allowed to enter,” he said. Attempts to contact officials in Qiaonan village were unsuccessful.

A woman who answered the telephone at the headquarters of the Anxin county government said: “We haven’t heard of the lockdown of Qiaonan village. We haven’t received any notice on the lawsuit. We don’t know the details.”

Liu Lingqun, who was 10 at the time, said he could still remember the day his sister was snatched from his parents.

“My father was taken to the town centre, handcuffed and beaten for two days,” he said. “I immediately ran out after the two women. I didn’t know what was going on but I ran, out of intuition, after seeing my little sister being carried away.

“I have been witnessing the tears and hearing the words of my parents for the last 18 years,” added Liu. “We can’t compromise now.” He said he was “positive” the town government was responsible for what he called the “brutal measure” of seizing his baby sister.

This year, there has been widespread speculation that president Xi Jinping might move toward a two-child policy by 2015. But the family planning commission this week squashed rumours that the one-child policy would be relaxed.