Sackings after probe into Ctrip nursery scandal

The head of a nursery at Ctrip headquarters in Shanghai has been detained and editor-in-chief of the magazine that ran the facility removed from his post, local authorities said.

The head of a nursery at Ctrip headquarters in Shanghai, surnamed Zheng, has been detained and Ji Daqing, editor-in-chief of the magazine that ran the facility, removed from his post, local authorities said last night.

Some others involved were also dismissed but their names were not revealed.

The nursery used to be a model example of how to care for employees’ children while their parents were at work, but video clips posted online last week appeared to show staff mistreating children, including pushing a girl to the ground and feeding children with what parents claimed was wasabi.

Authorities with the Shanghai Municipal Working Committee on Children and Women announced the result of a preliminary investigation into the case, saying it was a “severe case of child abuse” that had a “terrible impact” on society.

The Women’s Federation of Shanghai apologized to the public for a “lack of supervision and management” of Modern Family magazine, which is affiliated to the federation.

Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agency, said earlier that it had suspended two officials after the disturbing video footage had gone viral, sparking nationwide outrage.

Vice presidents Shi Qi and Feng Weihua were suspended pending an internal investigation, according to a company letter circulated online.

In January last year, the Changning District branch of the Women’s Federation of Shanghai was told Ctrip was interested in setting up a nursery for its employees.

The federation recommended three agencies to the company, who eventually chose the magazine’s readers’ service department. The two parties signed a contract and opened the “School for Children” nursery in February last year.

However, it was suspended after a week by the district education bureau on suspicions it was admitting children from outside the company. The nursery was later turned back into an in-house facility.

Due to lack of care workers, the readers’ service department signed a contract with Shanghai Jinxia Education Information Consulting Co to buy its services, authorizing it to deploy the head and other staff to the nursery.

The legal representative of the Jinxia company was Zhang Baobao at the time, but that changed later. However, Zhang remained in charge of the nursery’s management, team building and daily operations.

The readers’ service department was in charge of the nursery’s accounts. The investigation found that it had collected more than 3.5 million yuan (US$529,000) in fees from parents while its costs were less than 3.2 million yuan between February last year and October this year.

A report pointed out that the leaders of the Modern Family magazine had made a serious mistake in undertaking the nursery project and supervision of its readers’ department was severely lax.

The women’s federation and city health authorities have designated medical staff to provide physical examinations and psychological counseling for the children involved.

“It is hard to imagine that we are coding upstairs and you are abusing our babies downstairs,” wrote one man on Weibo, saying he was the father of a child that attended the nursery.

About 100 children, all below the age of 3, had attended the nursery in the past three months, Ctrip said.

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