Chinese baby
Thousands of children are abandoned every year in China Getty

A new-born baby has been rescued from a university toilet in the city of Linyi, north-western China.

Authorities believe the baby girl was flushed down the toilet by a student mother in a bid to cover up the pregnancy.

However, the baby got stuck in a pipe and her screams attracted some students, who immediately called firemen to rescue the infant.

The incident followed a similar episode in May 2014, in which another baby was rescued from a toilet pipe.

Child abandonment is a widespread problem in China. In March 2014, authorities were forced to close a baby hatch (a place where parents can abandon unwanted new-born infants) in Guangzhou, capital of Guandong, after a dramatic increase in the number of abandoned babies.

Since it had opened on 28 January 2014, the baby hatch received 262 abandoned babies.

A similar thing occurred at the Jinan Orphanage, eastern China, which received 106 children in just 11 days, since its opening on 1 June.

UNICEF said there were around 712,000 orphans in China in 2010 - the latest statistic available - but child welfare groups believed the number could be much bigger.

Baby hatches have been widely criticised in China as they are seen as an encouragement for parents to abandon their children.

However, according to some, these centres can help reduce the rate of infant mortality in the country.

"Children were being thrown into trash cans, on the side of roads, in front of hospitals, or in front of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, so we had to standardise it and regulate it," said Dr. Wang Zhenyao, one of the founders of China's child welfare policy, speaking to CNN. "We had to find a more humane way to take in abandoned babies."

Although there are at least 40,000 orphanages across China, according to All Girls Allowed (Aga) - an NGO which aims at curbing the gendercide in China - 95% of abandoned children in rural areas live outside of state-controlled orphanages.

Why are Children Abandoned?

New-borns are usually abandoned because they are disabled, or because their parents cannot afford to raise them.

"A disabled child can be a huge drain on a family's resources, and although the country's one-child policy normally allows parents to have another baby if their first is disabled, the restrictions can be a factor in other abandonments," a March 2014 AFP report states.

In addition, there is a factor that threatens the lives of thousands of baby girls: the one-child policy - adopted in China in 1980 - according to which families can only have one child. This policy has prompted hundreds of families to kill baby girls, as boys are preferred.

Since the adoption of this policy, Aga said that at least 37 million baby girls have died and over 336 million forced and coerced abortions have occurred.

The one-policy was modified in 2013, when it was decided that families can now have two children if at least one parent is an only child.

The relaxation of the policy might have resulted in a reduction of female gendercide in China; however, the number of children - boys and girls - abandoned each year is still very high.

This can be due to the high rate of poverty in the country, particularly in rural areas.

According to a report by Wei Shangjin, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank , although China has made considerable progress in alleviating poverty, 30% of Chinese (410 million out of 1.37 billion) still live under the poverty line.

According to Wei, in order to improve the condition of millions of Chinese, the government should foster the development of social insurance and subsistence security systems that are accessible to the poor.

Wang is of the same opinion. In the same interview with CNN, he highlitghted the importance of social welfare improvement, and mindsets changing.

"If you don't give up your child, then nobody will help you, but once you abandon your child, the government must take over.

"This is not a good solution. Instead the government should step forward to subsidize parents and enable them to take care of their children. This is a simple truth that is hard to explain to society."