Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Look At the Provinces: Chongqing

Beginning this month, we will begin a year-long study of the major Provinces involved in the international adoption program in China. We will look at the orphanage statistics from each orphanage, and discuss anomalies and patterns in each. It should prove to be an interesting and enlightening journey.

The first of these installments is now available on our subscription blog. Beginning with this installment on Chongqing, I will be presenting you with an in-depth look at the major Provinces involved in international adoption. We will begin with Chongqing because it is the smallest in terms of orphanages, and will lay the foundation for future Provinces. In the following months we will also look at Guangdong, Guangxi, Hubei, Hunan, and Jiangxi Provinces. Collectively these Provinces contribute the vast majority of all adoptable children in China.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Why the Wait Time Increase?

There has always been discussions on wait times among waiting families, and every time the wait has increased there have been myriad explanations to what was the root cause -- changing CCAA personnel, Olympics, implementation of the Hague Agreement, the Hunan scandal. Analyzing the data, however, shows that only one of the above explanations has any data to support it, and the others, while possible, have no empirical evidence to back them up.

This article will focus on the wait times between January 2002 and December 2008. The data that will be considered are orphanage submission rates (as compiled from Provincial finding ads), international adoption rates (provided by various country websites), and DTC wait times as retrieved from A-P-C, the Yahoo newsgroup dedicated to waiting families.

The wait time between DTC ("Dossier to China") and referral was thirteen months in January 2002, and ended in December 2002 at fourteen months. For the entire year, the wait time remained basically unchanged, with nearly 10,200 children being referred world-wide.

At the beginning of 2003, the wait time remained at fourteen months. However, beginning in August 2003, wait times began to fall as referrals accelerated. In that month, families who had submitted their dossiers in August 2002 received their referrals, dropping the wait time to 12 months. The following month, September 2003, wait times again decreased to 11 months. October 2003 saw the wait drop to only eight months, where it remained for almost nine months, to June 2004, when it dropped again, reaching a low of six months in September 2004. The wait time remained between six and seven months until November 2005.

Since total adoptions world-wide for 2003 remained basically unchanged from 2002 (10,290), the explanation for the fall in wait times in 2003 can be found on the "supply" side of the equation. 2003 saw dramatic increases in orphanage submission rates. Guangdong Province, for example, saw submissions increase 34% from 2002 to 2003, an increase of 747 files. Hunan Province saw its submissions increase 20%, for a net increase of 439 files. Hubei Province, as another example, saw adoptions increase 37%. In the face of steady international demand, the increased submission rates across China resulted in wait times declining from fourteen months at the beginning of 2003 to eight months by its end.

The increase in orphanage submissions can be attributed to several factors, but a significant portion of it, at least in Hunan Province, can be traced to the introduction of baby-buying programs in at least six orphanages. These six orphanages -- Changning, Hengdong, Hengnan, Hengshan, and Hengyang County -- made contact with a trafficking family from Guangdong Province in December 2002. Although court testimony indicated that these orphanages had incentive programs in place before that time, the Guangdong traffickers added a substantial number of children to these six orphanages. Collectively, the four orphanages doing adoptions in 2002 saw submissions increase from 257 adoptions in 2002 to 406 in 2003, a 58% increase.

In 2004, demand from international countries began to increase, as families began to take notice of the short wait times. Although international demand increased to a little over 13,300 adoptions in 2004 (an increase of 29% over 2003), orphanage submissions flattened, with no significant increase occurring in 2004. Thus, in 2004, like 2002, demand once again approximated the supply submitted by the orphanages, and wait times trended lower, from eight months in January 2004 to six months in December. Interestingly, in 2003 the wait time began to drop in September, when the record number of children submitted in March 2003 were referred. Wait times reached their low in September 2004, again when the children submitted in March 2004 were referred. March was the largest submission month in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and this spike in submissions following Chinese New Years had its impact at the end of 2003 and 2004.

Total adoptions from China increased again in 2005, reaching almost 14,400 in 2005, an 8% increase over 2004. But orphanage submissions began to decline. In seven Provinces (Anhui, Chongqing, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hubei, Hunan, and Jiangxi), total submissions in 2005 fell from over 12,800 in 2004 to 11,318 in 2005, a drop of nearly 12%. With the eight percent increase in demand, and the twelve percent decrease in supply, wait times began to increase in 2005. Starting at six months in January, wait times upticked to seven months in July and was eight months in November 2005.

There is little question that wait times were increasing in the second half of 2005, and it is likely that they would have returned to twelve months sometime in 2006 or 2007. There is also little doubt that at some point an equilibrium would have again been reached, as demand declined in response to the increased wait times. In all likelihood, the program would have returned to a 12-14 month wait, as it saw in 2002.

But November 2005 saw the Hunan scandal break, and the dynamics of the program were irreversibly altered.

There is little question that the Hunan scandal had a dramatic impact on orphanage submissions, not just a result of the closure of Hunan Province from December 2005 until April 2006, but in the fallout from the scandal going forward.

Orphanage submissions fell from 5,400 in the last six months of 2004 to 4,642 in the seven Provinces in this analysis. A significant percentage of that decline can be attributed to the CCAA's decision to shut Hunan Province to new submissions, which effectively reduced that Province's submissions from 1,166 in the last six months of 2005 to only 505 in the first six months of 2006, a decrease of 661 submissions. Thus, a majority (58%) of the decline in submissions in the first half of 2006 can be attributed directly to the Hunan scandal.

That the decline can be specifically pegged to the scandal itself can be seen by looking at the submission rates of the orphanages involved in the scandal. In the weeks leading up to the arrests of the six orphanage directors on November 11, 2005, they submitted an average of over ten files per week. Submissions from these six orphanage all but ended following the scandal, with submissions falling from a combined 534 in 2005 to only seventy-two in 2006, thirty-three in 2007 and thirty-one in 2008.

The effect of removing Hunan from the adoption pool between December 2005 and April 2006 had an immediate and dramatic effect on wait times. In January 2006 the wait time increased to nine months, longer than any month since November 2003. By April, when a majority of Hunan's orphanages were given the green light to resume adoptions (the "Hunan Six" were not allowed to resume submissions until September), the wait time had increased to eleven months. With an increasing number of families submitting files for adoption, and submission rates in the six Hunan orphanages all but gone, China's program sought to find a new equilibrium.

The significant decrease in adoption submissions wasn't isolated to just the six implicated orphanages in Hunan, but were seen in many other orphanages as well. In Hunan Province, for example, Changde, Changsha #1, Huaihua, and Yiyang and many others saw steep declines. A look at their submission rates confirms that these decreases have their origin in the Hunan scandal also.

Whereas Changde, Changsha#1, Huaihua and the Yiyang orphanages had submitted 175 children in the six months between July and December 2005 (9 per week), following the Hunan scandal their numbers dropped to 124 for all of 2006, or 2.4 per week. These numbers declined even further in 2007 to an average of 1.4 per week, or 73 for the entire year.

This pattern is seen in other areas of China as well. Although a deeper analysis of just which orphanages saw dramatic changes following the Hunan scandal is available on our subscription blog, a few examples will illustrate how November 11, 2005 becomes a significant reflection point all across China.

In Guangdong, many orphanages saw their adoption numbers collapse simultaneous with the Hunan scandal. Two orphanages that stand out as having experienced substantial declines between 2005 and 2006 are the Qujiang and Suixi orphanages, which saw adoption numbers decline 79% and 52% respectively. Other orphanages in Guangdong that saw substantial declines include Gaozhou, Huazhou, Maonan, Shaoguan, Sanshui, and Zhanjiang. Collectively, Guangdong's numbers declined from 2,645 submissions in 2005 to 1,889 in 2006.

Jiangxi Province saw similar patterns. Fenyi, Fuzhou, Gao'An, Guangchang, Jianxin, and Nanfeng, among others, saw adoption rates cut almost in half, from 798 adoptions in 2005 to 424 adoptions in 2006. These four orphanages constituted 70% of the decline across Jiangxi Province between 2005 and 2006, when overall submissions fell from 3,027 to 2,494 children.

Upcoming analysis on our subscription blog will detail more fully which orphanages in each Province showed declines, and provide detailed explanations as to why. The first Province to be considered will be Chongqing, followed by Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Hunan.

In summary -- Observations that wait times were increasing in 2005 are correct, but mis-attribute the increase to incorrect assumptions. The increasing popularity experienced by the China program in 2003 and 2004 led to increased submissions into the China program in 2005. Although orphanage submissions hit records in 2003, resulting in wait time declines in late 2003 and early 2004, submissions stabilized in 2004 and 2005. As additional families entered the program in early 2005, demand bumped up against supply so that wait times bottomed in March 2005 and slowly began to increase to historical norms by December 2005.

The Hunan scandal, with its resulting closure of Hunan Province for four months, and the collapse in adoptions from many other orphanages, created the "perfect storm" of high demand and falling supply. This resulted in the stunning rise in wait times seen over the past three years.

Thus, to understand the increase in wait times one must look at the impact of the Hunan scandal on orphanage submissions. All other speculations to explain the increased wait -- from Hague implementation, the Olympics, or any of the many other rumored explanations -- fail to account for the dramatic change in direction that occurred on November 11, 2005.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Dutch Meetings in Sixty Seconds

The minutes of the Dutch Parliamentary meeting are important for the adoption community to read and understand. For years, the response to allegations of corruption has largely been, "I trust that my government will look into it. If the program is not shut down, that is evidence to me that the problems were small. I trust the Chinese government and my government, combined with the Hague Agreement, to protect my adoption from corruption."

The minutes of the Dutch meeting show the problems with such assumptions. The Dutch, in this meeting, were grappling with the resignation of the director of the largest adoption agency in the Netherlands. Ina Hut resigned due to her inability to do research to dispel or confirm accusations of wide-spread corruption in China's orphanages. She reportedly was told by the Ministry of Justice that doing independent research would threaten the "treaty relationship" that the Netherlands had with China, and if she did so her adoption license would be revoked.

So, the central question in the meeting was: If one suspects that the CCAA is not being truthful in their answers to official questions (which factually they had not been in the case of the Netherlands), what options are available for further investigation?

To date, the Dutch have done no governmental investigation into problems with China's program. Official delegations have been sent to the CCAA, questions have been asked of the CCAA, reassurances have been given. That is the extent of the "research".

As Ms. Azough so succinctly put it, "You cannot call that research."

The issues confronting the Dutch are the same issues confronting all governments involved in China adoption. Can investigations by officials of foreign governments be done inside China? Would such investigations damage important corollary relationships? These discussions should give everyone pause before asserting that world governments are actively involved in monitoring the integrity of adoption programs, especially the program of one of the most powerful nations on earth.

Lastly, the Dutch minutes show that they, like all other governments, are reactionary rather than proactive in finding problems. All of the meetings, all of the delegations sent to China, were a result of media exposes' that revealed problems. While some may deride the media, without the newspaper and television reports about problems inside China, there would be no debate about China's program. At the end of the day, it is the media, rather than governments, that bring the issues to public awareness.

Given the propensity of all politicians to repeat, reframe, obfuscate and obstruct, it has been suggested by one reader that I give a "bullet-point" synopsis of the meeting. What follows is a boiled down version of the meeting, with the important charges and questions retained. I, of course, encourage readers to read the full minutes.


The Chairman: Welcome. Each spokesperson should know that they have about five minutes speaking time.

Ms Langkamp (SP): Chairman. For some children, intercountry adoption is ultimately the best solution. It is a fragile process in which it is hoped that nothing should go wrong. The control and supervision of international adoption should therefore be maximized. As the demand for adopted children is far greater than supply, it sometimes becomes a market in which adoptees are sought from parents, rather than the other way around, with all the resulting risks of child trafficking and corruption. In recent years, we have been confronted with incident after incident relating to intercountry adoptions. . . .

We come to China. We have all heard to the new scandals about child trafficking in China that have recently come out. The obstruction by the Ministry of Justice for further investigation into these stories by former director of World Children Foundation Ina Hut, was the main reason she resigned and left.

The Quality Framework for agencies participating in inter-country adoption is that it is the duty of an adoption agency to constantly keep a finger on the pulse. However, "World Children" was threatened by the ministry with revocation of their adoption license if they continued in their investigations. I find that incomprehensible. If an adoption agency finds it safe to play (investigate), then the Minister should applaud it, certainly in light of the Quality Framework, not advise against it!

With further research, I do not mean simply inquiring of the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) and then being reassured by them that nothing is wrong. What about that? This fact raises at least the suggestion which Mrs Hut also suggested, that there are other interests at stake which apparently play a larger role. Why is the ministry so docile with the CCAA?

Mrs. De Pater-van der Meer (CDA): At the last consultation on adoption is was explicitly stated that each country that had ratified the "Convention for the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Inter-country Adoption" (Hague Adoption Convention) should be confident that they themselves are the safeguards of adoption procedures. When in doubt, authorities should be contacted.

Ms Langkamp (SP): I have a supplementary question about the first part of the answer. If countries have signed the Convention, the authorities of each country can appeal to each other, you say. That's right. Do you now find that that is sufficient in all situations like now in China, this is sufficient? I mention this issue also in my own contribution. The Dutch Central Authority has inquired of the CCAA and is reassured, while there are still many indications that abuses occur in China. Do you agree with me that in some cases more could be done, not just a display of another appeal?

Ms Azough (GL): Is it not crazy that in non-treaty countries, including Ethiopia, there are better opportunities to do a thorough, profound and comprehensive study that we have in treaty countries such as China? There we have to operate in very limited frameworks, taking account of "diplomatic sensitivities".

In recent years, not from 2008 or 2007, but since 2003, there have been regular reports on adoption from China. The fact of her departure moves us from a general consultation to core questions. For my party this is a signal that we must have a much deeper and more thorough discussion about adoption from China. Central to my group are concerns and questions about adoption from China. The news accounts of recent years give a picture of trade, market and corruption. How that image corresponds to reality is, for me, still a question. It seems of utmost importance that this be further investigated. The responses so far from the Ministry and the Minister of Justice are still insufficient for my party. Every time that independent researchers and journalists investigate particularly China, gross violations of the Hague Adoption Convention are reported, including one very recent article in the "Los Angeles Times" of September 20.

It is reported how local authorities, instead of writing out fines for violating China's population policy, take babies and sell them at a rate of $3,000 per baby. I am very harsh -- maybe too harsh -- but the investigation that the Minister of Justice performed last year by means of a high official delegation to China to speak to the CCAA, came down to this, which is also reflected the answers to written questions:

"We have talked to the CCAA. They indicated that there have been past abuses, but that they were addressed. Now there is an honest and careful procedure. We must rely on the answers of the CCAA, for the Hague Adoption Convention was set up that way. This gives us at present confidence."

You cannot call that research.

My group is concerned that the Hague Adoption Convention is an obstacle by creating a false sense of certainty in the procedures. Because we, as an adopting country, also have a great responsibility, I ask the Minister whether it is possible, following the recent reports, to do further research into the situation in China. Is it also possible to see the positive and possible negative effects the Hague Adoption Convention has specifically in the case of China?

There are indications to me that much more information is known to the Chinese authorities on individual foster children, than is currently given to the agencies. This is extremely important in the context of identity and possible investigation of children to determine their own roots. Does the minister also these signals? Did the CCAA send children abroad from the Hunan scandal on false grounds? We have already talked about this question before. At the time the reply from the CCAA was that none of those children have ended up in the Netherlands. OK, very fine. However, according to research from outside - here I am somewhat limited in my resources - that the same answer was given to all countries that received adoptive children from China. This is a very strange state of affairs.

Mr. Van der Staaij (SGP): There are important steps and principles laid out in the Hague Adoption Convention: the subsidiarity of inter-country adoption, the importance of the strict voluntary relinquishment of a child, and that there should be no profit. It is, however, very important that in practice those high standards are also adhered to. . . .The minister acknowledges that there were irregularities, particularly at the provincial level. He points to the legitimate expectations of the Hague Adoption Convention and sees at the same time positive developments, real will in China to take care of abuses. What strikes me as most important from the guarantees in the Hague Adoption Convention, which China has also signed, is that there is a critically constructive dialogue with China to continue to engage on vulnerabilities that arise.

Mrs Timmer (PvdA): We all know that this is not the first time that we talk about incidents. We have already talked quite extensively about China. The Minister said that people from the ministry and the CCAA already considered incidents. I therefore strongly ask the minister: Have you talked with them again? If those problems continue, then they are probably serious and we have to look what we can do about it. But I would like to wait for the answers from the Minister, in part because it can be about things we already know about. We have to do with the one-child policy in China, and the fact that not all conditions are the same in the Netherlands as in China. That you must take into account.

Ms Langkamp (SP): I can not conceive otherwise than that you say the following: If the Minister believes that no further investigation is needed, then we accept that and so sit down. If he believes that further investigation is desirable, we find it sufficient if he again simply talks with the CCAA, which is then called "research", and if it reassures us, we will be assured also.

Ms Azough (GL): In a way, Mr Teeven says he has no confidence in the Chinese authorities when it comes to adoption from China. It surprises me somewhat that he doesn't favor a moratorium until follow-up research can be done. He accepts that children are sent to the Netherlands based on robbery and markets?

Mr. Teeven (VVD): We think there are incidents in China. That was even mentioned a little in the letter last September, so I also say what previous speakers and also what Mrs. Hut of "World Children" has said. The question is how big the incidents are, and whether they warrant the termination of the trust that we have with a Convention country in the treaty with China, or whether that trust outweighs the number of incidents. You can, of course, say that if one incident is proven true, we should immediately stop adopting children from China. This is not the position of my party. We are willing to make a trade-off. We also see that things are wrong in places. We do not close our eyes, but we do not, at this moment, believe we all have to stop adopting from China. That moment could come if the Minister is tells us that 60%, 40% or 20% of the cases are wrong. There are certainly things wrong. We do not deny that.

Ms Langkamp (SP): You just ask the minister whether there are possibilities for further research in China. You say frankly that "I do not see that there are, and we should rely only on the CCAA." Is that correct?

Ms Azough (GL): Mr. Teeven does not know how big the scale of the abuses is. That also goes for my party. I therefore call for a follow-up study. If this research can be done, then I call for a moratorium until such conclusions can be drawn. If the minister indicates that there is no further investigation possible, then consider my party in effect saying that for the time being there should be no more adoptions from China. Mr. Teeven does not. He cannot guarantee that there aren't far more incidents of abuse then have been seen so far.

Mr. Teeven (VVD): Mr. Anker already said it himself -- If you have signed that treaty, like China and the Netherlands have done, you have to deal with the principal of trust. And then he knows as well as me that the possibilities to investigate things for yourself in those countries are extremely small, if not nil?

Minister Hirsch Ballin: I come now upon the two letters concerning the decision by Mrs Hut to quit as director of "World Children", as well as to the responses attached to them. Much is said about it. Of course it’s also based on what Mrs Hut herself has publicly stated about the reasons for her decision, along with others why she could not go along with the way which was reacted regarding an offer concerning an investigation into the abuses that allegedly occur in China. In July this year, the report about it came out in the media. In it a connection was constructed between the removal of children from parents who did not comply with the one-child policy, and the unlawfully ending up of those children in the adoption circuit. Then we immediately had questions submitted to the CCAA to see whether that message could be confirmed. The CCAA has let us know that the case has been taken under investigation.

It was asked whether Mrs. Hut was put under pressure. I want to preface my answer by saying that none of those sitting at this table, were present at that conversation. That seems to me reasonable at such a conversation. And then I assume that it refers to one and the same talk. But, as I've answered the questions of the Chamber, it is perceived that several talks have taken place. They are talking about one conversation.. It seems that it in a certain way came across from Mrs. Hut there have been various discussions. I'm discussed this in pretty much detail. With that "World Children" brought the possibility up for something like an undercover investigation into possible abuses in case of adoption. Then on the part of my ministry it was said: "That’s not the way we should and can go." I have given the reasons for that. We have a treaty relationship with certain countries. I would not leave any doubt that I consider that treaty relationship valuable. In previous consultations we have talked about complications that could result in your ending up without a treaty relationship. We are nevertheless exploring some opportunities beyond the existence of a treaty relationship, but we have always devoted ourselves to the treaty relationship and the obligations resulting from it for the states who are parties to the Convention.

Mr. Teeven (VVD): When Mrs. Hut said she was going to do an investigation and the Ministry said that this would be an undercover operation, was it then said by the Ministry the straight answer: "If you really are going to do it, you will immediately lose your license"?

Minister Hirsch Ballin: I will once more state this explicitly: We have no eye- or ear witnesses of that discussion here at the table. So I can neither say with certainty from my own knowledge about the dynamics of that conversation. But it was reported to me that the response to this idea was businesslike, and that what was said is that this does not fit in the relationships we maintain.

Ms Langkamp (SP): The Minister is still expressing his full confidence in the CCAA, but that institution has explicitly urged the Netherlands to not do any further investigation. I have namely, a letter proving this. Why does the Minister still have the fullest confidence in a investigation by the CCAA? It turned out earlier that they had got it at the wrong end of the stick, saying that there was nothing the matter. Afterwards, it turned out there was really something the matter. Why does the minister still trust the CCAA?

Minister Hirsch Ballin: You say something different than what I just said. I have said that the principle of trust between states is what counts. It’s something different when you vis-a-vis the [Dutch] government say whether or not you have the fullest confidence in the government. In the interstate relations we call each other to account on what they owe each other. That’s what we mean by the interstate trust principle. Then a situation could emerge where you must say: "Hello, there is a state that does not respect its treaty obligations."

Ms Azough (GreenLeft): I have another question, in line with that of Mrs Langkamp: I think we all have that letter from the China Center of Adoption Affairs, which was also mentioned in the “Netwerk” show. One sentence is crucial there. I was terrified by that sentence. The sentence reads: "It is better not to pursue, expand or elaborate further on this issue and to keep it secret for the related families, in order not to interrupt the association established." That language causes at least my party some concerns. I very much like to have a response from the Minister to this.

Minister Hirsch Ballin: I remember that sentence too, so I understand your question well. Let us first wait for the reports of the Inspection Youth Care. I will take care of it that you get sufficient description of the procedure that was used. That will be the case in a few weeks. I'm not trying at all to jump to conclusions. I'm just trying to do the investigation orderly.

Ms Azough (GreenLeft): What is your response to the specific sentence I just put forward?

Minister Hirsch Ballin: From this investigation we will have to learn it. I’m not jumping to conclusions. That’s also the reason I distanced myself, by interruption, to previous questions from those who thought that I would have drawn the conclusion that there is nothing wrong. Of course this is not the case, otherwise we would not investigate. That includes this sentence too.

Ms Azough (GreenLeft): I’m not that much after a conclusion of the Minister. I just ask a reaction to the fact that such phrases in a letter of the CCAA do exist.

Minister Hirsch Ballin: As you've seen, this statement is open to a certain ambiguity. That statement could mean that something has gone wrong and that it was better not to dig too much deeper and do no investigations. It could also mean that there is no absolute certainty, and therefore there is no reason to go further. That sentence also has struck me. That obvious question will be addressed either in the investigations, or in the discussions which will be conducted by the delegation under my supervision.

Mr. Teeven (VVD): Now I have told the whole story. They would have said that the license will be revoked from "World Children" if it did its own investigation. It was said that the reason for the measure was, that "other interests" played a role, and that the China-Netherlands relations could be damaged. Now, you are answering the question about commercial interests in the negative, but this was literally said so by the ministry, according to the manager of an agency.

Minister Hirsch Ballin: First, I do not know whether this is a literal quote. Moreover, as far as this text is cited, we are not talking here, if it is about relations with China, about commercial interests, but rather about the relationship from state to state. That's what it is about.

Chairman: There is still an opportunity for a second round. Please, keep it short.

Ms Langkamp (SP): Chairman, I will try to be brief. The Minister says: "Let us wait for the investigations in China and then our delegation will go there with the right investigation questions to ask to do the further investigation." Can he explain the difference with the previous investigation of the delegation which has been previously to China, and which came back with the message that nothing was wrong? If it is, namely, again boiling down to number of talks over there, I really have no confidence at all that there will be any other outcome possible, given the attitude of the CCAA to date.

Mrs. Azough (Green Left): Chairman. I’m dying to know what the investigations exactly involve. So far, the Minister is somewhat vague about it. He also says he doesn't know exactly what has been investigated. Until then, he will keep his mouth shut. I find that a bit strange, because he can very well indicate in which way the investigation was done. He does not need to give the results right away, but I can’t imagine that the methods have not been discussed. The interpretation of the phrase in the letter of the CCAA seems of great importance to me. I may hope that a very specific answer will be given in the letters that the Minister has yet to send the Chamber. Mr. Anker asked a good question: What are the limits of the principle of trust? The Minister did not address this, although this might be the core of this debate.

Mr. Anker (Christian Union): The director of the "World Children" said that she has been put under pressure and could possibly lose the license if she did her own investigation. On that, the Minister has not yet responded.

Minister Hirsch Ballin: I did not respond because I was not present at that conversation. I can very well imagine that was clearly expressed that it does not fit into the type of relationship with China, namely a relationship ruled by the treaty, that an agency is doing private investigations. The question was whether then something is said about the situation that would arise if it yet would happen despite this warning. I have the impression that Mr. Anker asked if a particular kind of improper pressure came into play. In these conversations, improper forms of pressure should never be allowed, but you can say that certain activities do not belong to what a agency ought to do, knowing that it is about a relationship between two states which should address each other as states.