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Authorities to Investigate Illegal Employment of Minors

China's education officials are joining with employment authorities to mount investigations into reports of agencies and individuals who lure minors to work, said the Ministry of Education on Thursday.

"We have received reports that some agencies and individuals lured minors to work on the pretense of introducing them to part-time jobs or internships," said the ministry in a circular.

Education authorities across the country will join with officials who have law enforcement powers in labor departments and commerce and industry administrations to intensify supervision and management to stop illegal employment of minors by agencies and individuals, it said.

The ministry asked its local branches and all schools to be aware and report illegal employment to the authorities.

Chinese law bans minors under the age of 16 from working and those between 16 and 18 must be given easier and safer work than adult workers.

Employers who violate the law can be fined and, if the crime is serious, their business licenses will be withdrawn.

In June, private brick kilns in north China's Shanxi Province were found abusing workers, many of whom were underage, in a forced labor scandal.

A total of 95 officials in the province have been punished in the wake of the forced labor scandal.

The ministry also warned vocational schools not to violate regulations on internships, which ban students from interning during their first year.

Most vocational schools in China take in students who finish three years in secondary school, but do not go to high school.

In 2004, a private vocational school in southeast China's Jiangxi Province was caught luring first-year students to work full-time in an electronic hardware factory during their summer vacation by promising free tuition.

(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2007)

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