China's Ministry of Civil Affairs will launch a nationwide campaign in September to locate vagrant children and return them to homes.
The ministry ordered a careful search for runaway children at a conference concerning the relief and protection of stray children, asking authorities to cooperate with local communities to locate the kids and send them back home.
At the conference, Vice Minister of Civil Affairs Dou Yupei urged local governments to learn from the experience of northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in bringing home native Xinjiang children who strayed to other parts of the country.
The Xinjiang regional government has sent teams of investigators to search for vagrant children in 19 provinces and municipalities across the country since April of this year.
Once sent back, the children are placed in government-run shelters. The Xinjiang campaign is aimed at helping runaway children to resume normal lives and restore the region's reputation, as Xinjiang is notoriously known as a source of "young robbers and thieves" in many cities.
Street orphans should be placed in the care of welfare institutions or foster families if their guardians cannot be found, Dou said.
The Ministry of Public Security will also take part in a campaign to combat offenses involving minors, including child abduction and trafficking, said Dou.
China listed a "lack of protection for runaway children" as one of the challenges facing the country's young population in a 10-year outline for the development of policies for Chinese women and children released earlier this month.
The government has promised to take measures over the next 10 years to combat offenses such as organizing, coercing and deceiving children into theft, begging and prostitution.