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
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general has confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping's war on corruption.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
A group in China escapes from a stuck elevator thanks to one man and his trusty hammer. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Facebook's founder says he taught himself Mandarin and tested his skills with students in China.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0133 GMT (0933 HKT)
China launched an experimental spacecraft that is scheduled to orbit the moon before returning to Earth.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Full marks for ingenuity: This was a truly high-tech scam.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
The rationale behind Confucius Institutes -- an international chain of academic centers run by an arm of the Chinese government -- is understandable.
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.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 0511 GMT (1311 HKT)
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0315 GMT (1115 HKT)
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1454 GMT (2254 HKT)
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
October 8, 2014 -- Updated 0229 GMT (1029 HKT)
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 0020 GMT (0820 HKT)
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.