Part of complete coverage on
'Baby hatch' overwhelmed in Southern Chinese city
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
A "baby hatch" in Nanjing, China, which is used as a safe alternative to abandonment of infants on the street.
- Guangzhou "baby hatch" forced to close due to overwhelming numbers of abandoned infants
- 262 babies -- an average of more than five a day -- dropped off since hatch opened
- Closed facility unsure when it can reopen
- Controversial program set to expand in coming months
(CNN) -- One of China's controversial "baby hatches" has been forced to shut down, at least temporarily. The facility in the southern city of Guangzhou opened in January but has been overwhelmed with abandoned infants, forcing a suspension of services.
The first of the facilities opened in 2011 and increased to around 25 hatches countrywide. More of the special rooms, which are equipped with a cradle, incubator and delayed alarm to allow mothers to drop off unwanted babies anonymously, are planned. While abandoning infants in China is illegal, the practice is relatively widespread, especially in poorer areas.
The Guangzhou "baby safety island," as they are known in Chinese, has received 262 babies since it began operation in late January, according to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua.
All 262 babies suffer from disabilities or diseases such as cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome and congenital heart disease according to Xinhua. The scheme's proponents argue that the hatches are key to saving the lives of children who would likely die if abandoned on the street.
Since its opening, the facility received an average of around five babies a day. The staggering number of infants who have been abandoned in the city has meant that the hatch's operator has not been able to keep up with the volume. The city's Welfare Center for Children has had to add spaces to take their facilities to 1,100 beds, but these are already full.
Xu Jiu the center's director told Xinhua that the Guangzhou baby hatch had received a disproportionate number of infants.
"The number of babies we have received is much higher than in other parts of the country over the same period," he said.
He added that it could be parents who are unable to cope with the heavy economic burden of trying to treat incurable diseases.
"Parents bring their ill babies to big cities in the hope of having them cured. But many just end up abandoning them," he said
He was not able to predict a date when normal service would resume, but rather said that the center would focus on the children already in their care.
The unprecedented response to the facility's opening is causing some to question the wisdom of the scheme. However, the government appears to be standing by the hatches.
Li Liguo, Minister of Civil Affairs, told reporters in the background of the country's annual meeting of parliament this month that they "do more good than harm."
Chinese police save hundreds of babies from online trading racket
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
The new U.S. deal with China on greenhouse gases faces enormous challenges in both countries. Jonathan Mann explains.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
November 3, 2014 -- Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT)
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 0500 GMT (1300 HKT)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
China sends an unmanned spacecraft to the moon and back but is country following an outdated recipe for superpower status?
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Full marks for ingenuity: Students employ high-tech gadgets worthy of a spy movie to pass national exam.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
Confucius Institutes seek to promote Chinese language and culture but some have accused them of "cultural imperialism."
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.