Parents of China’s Toilet-Pipe Baby Feel the Wrath of the Country’s Netizens

Online vigilantes hound down transgressors in a nation where formal justice is often slow and hard to come by

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Zhong Cheng Jh / Imaginechina / AP

A newborn boy is pictured at a hospital in the Chinese city of Jinhua on May 28, 2013, after being rescued from a sewer pipe in a residential building in Zhejiang province

Babies don’t belong in sewage pipes. That much the online community in China agrees upon. On May 25, an unwed 22-year-old woman in China’s eastern Zhejiang province walked into a bathroom and delivered a baby whose existence she had hidden from the world. The woman had been hunched over a squat toilet and her newborn boy slipped into the sewage pipe below, according to local journalist Dong Qi. Although the new mother used a mop to try to dislodge the baby, he was wedged into a channel 4 in. (10 cm) wide, says Dong, whose information comes from the local police chief in Pujiang county. Panicked, she tried to cover up what happened, splashing water to wash away the blood. She then informed someone in the building that something was wrong with the toilet.

Soon, firefighters were dispatched to rescue the child from the waste pipe. But the 6.2-lb. (2.8 kg) newborn was squeezed in so tightly that they were unable to extract him. The rescue workers were forced to saw off the section of the pipe with him in it and transport it to a nearby hospital. Baby 59, as he is now known after the number of his incubator, is in stable condition, a tiny presence with a full head of hair and a scraped knee and other bruises from his postbirth ordeal.

(VIDEO: Chinese Newborn Rescued From Sewer Pipe)

When footage of Baby 59’s rescue was released earlier this week in China, in absence of information about his mother, the reaction online was swift and harsh. “What kind of beasts can do such a thing?” posted one user on Sina Weibo, a domestic Twitter-like social-media service, referring to the child’s parents. In the court of public opinion, the young mother, as well as the father who reportedly refused to acknowledge her pregnancy, were quickly tried and found guilty. Wrote another Weibo user: “His parents should be put into prison and never be allowed to touch him again.”

The Internet serves as a crowd-sourcing tool for vigilante justice in China — where the normal judicial system cannot be counted on for dispensing fair results — and it does such an effective job that it’s often nicknamed the Human Flesh Search Engine. Although sensitive content is often censored, the online sphere is still the most open forum available to Chinese citizens, who rarely trust state-run media to deliver news that contradicts the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s version of truth. From discrediting corrupt local cadres and shaming jaywalkers to exposing two-timing spouses and launching online mobs on individuals who mistreat kittens, the Human Flesh Search Engine humiliates with stunning speed.

But in cases that stray into politics, such as a hit-and-run involving an official’s progeny, Chinese state censors soon move in, blocking keywords and discouraging further online discussion. The official dragnet can reach smothering proportions — at one time or another, the name of China’s new leader Xi Jinping and the car brand Ferrari were both deemed unacceptable search-words on Weibo.

(MORE: China’s One-Child Policy: Curse of the ‘Little Emperors’)

Internationally, because he appeared to be an abandoned child, Baby 59 has been thought of as a victim of China’s restrictive family-planning policy, which limits some families to a single child. In the name of furthering China’s economic development by limiting its population growth, Chinese officials have committed abuses ranging from forced sterilizations to mandatory abortions on women just a few days from their due dates. Parents who contravene the government’s family-planning regulations can be slapped with fines several times their annual incomes. Blind legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, who fled to the U.S. last year, gained fame for his work on behalf of women compelled by local family-planning officials to undergo sterilizations and late-term abortions in his home province of Shandong in eastern China.

The pressure to have only one child has propelled some Chinese to either abort female fetuses or kill newly delivered daughters. More than 10,000 abandoned babies ended up in a special Beijing ward over the previous decade, according to the Beijing Youth Daily in August 2012. Female children are traditionally less valued in China and as a result of various sex-selection tactics — many illegal — the country’s gender imbalance between boys and girls reached 117 to 100 in 2012, according to state newswire Xinhua. (The normal ratio is around 102–106 boys to 100 girls.) Demographers predict that by 2020 China will be populated by an extra 24 million marriageable men who will be unable to find female partners, a potentially destabilizing scenario in a country whose government is spooked by any harbinger of social unrest.

Baby 59’s story, though, does not appear to be directly connected to the stresses of China’s family-planning strictures. Indeed, young, unmarried women dispose of unwanted babies all over the world. Nor is it clear whether the pipe baby’s mother even abandoned her child. It is a rare son who is discarded in China, and orphanages are crowded with far more girls than boys. Sure enough, staff at the hospital where Baby 59 is recuperating have been inundated with adoption requests, according to local news reports. Meanwhile, local police, who initially posted on Weibo that they were treating the case as attempted murder, appear to have dialed back those charges. The young mother was taken by her parents to an unidentified hospital separate from the one to which her son has been admitted. She, too, needs time to recover.

With reporting by Gu Yongqiang / Beijing

MORE: China: Forced-Abortion Victim Promised $11,200, but Family Fears for Life

44 comments
bkomshantigram
bkomshantigram

This type of situation happens due to the ignorance of the law of spirituality. What you sow you will reap. Every human being as a soul who resides invisibly in the middle of the brain is an eternal living energy like a star, which provides life to the body and performs actions throught the body. Actions are the result of the thoughts, those actions will give a result anytime in eternity. If you the living energy -the soul-, leaves a body, the soul will take birth into another human body according to the thoughts and actions of previous births. Those thoughts will determine your destiny. If any human being would have this deep realization, will be careful with the thoughts, actions, feelings, intentions, vision, attitud, perceptions and so on. Under the self-knowledge of spirituality is hard to judge other´s actions, but it will help us to educate ourselves in order to draw the lines of our destiny in eternity and have a quality life for ourselves and for others. If you want to know more about it please write to bkomshantigram@yahoo.co.uk


duduong
duduong

It is funny that a mistreated Chinese baby gets this kind of media coverage while numerous riots in the West, some with lethal consequences, are nowhere to be found on the US news sites. I am not talking about riots in PIGS countries. Those are routine by now. How many here know that there has been a large uprising in Stockholm this week? How about violent student demonstrations in Canada? The hypocrisy of western journalists continues to impress and astound.

MikeGieser
MikeGieser

CHINA--"Where a flush beats a full house"...

looking4seniors.com
looking4seniors.com

Talk about a taste of things to come for the little guy. Welcome to the real world kiddo!

Dayanithi19
Dayanithi19

For one woman's crime - don't condemn a Nation.

people4sharks
people4sharks

pretty sick - people and media get caught up in China trying to show it has some money in the hands of a corrupt few, but in reality 90% are poor farmer's with little prospects and hence resort to uncivilized actions in a Communist country. 

Discursions
Discursions

Our dear leader opposed "born alive" legislation, and has said when a "fetus, or child, however you want to describe it, is now outside of the mother's womb"it's still between her and her doctor if they want to kill it.  So yeah, let's not be too shocked.  This is just Obama-Gosnell stuff.

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

Story leaves out the interesting part: how did the authorities -- or the Human Flesh Search Engine -- FIND the young mother?

Serioustmakers
Serioustmakers

dam lil man is a soilder , god bless you man life is hard and you facing it all ready man 

@gasteaux
@gasteaux

Unbelievable, but true. Ghastly.

agps44
agps44

Talk about a taste of things to come for the little guy. Welcome to the real world kiddo!

chaliapin
chaliapin

However terrible this may seem, none of us were there.  We should err on the side of forgiveness rather than hatred.  "There but for the grace of God, go I"

LeThuyTao
LeThuyTao

I think the baby is as a result of his unrequited love & sorrowful life. 

KSParthasarathy
KSParthasarathy

Telling video of the shocking  crime sends ripples of disgust worldwide.

21stcentury
21stcentury

Would there be an uproar about an abandoned baby girl? 

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@bkomshantigram 

and yet lack proof to the point that ANY spiritual position is silly

Souls and Unicorns are both imaginary 

KarenSaucedo
KarenSaucedo

@Dayanithi19 What makes you think people condemning China have only one reason?? This is a country that sits on the wrong side of the table on foreign policy matters at the UN, consistently.  Often, partnering with Russia.  This is a country that still jails non-violent political dissidents.  The majority of the population is laborers who live in poverty and darkness.  The air and water in China is among the most polluted in the world.   No birth control is 100% effective and they DO stringently enforce the one child rule.  This has led to all kinds of atrocities including kidnap and forced abortion by family members to avoid the wrath of the Chinese government.  Need I go on?

jodyjean0821
jodyjean0821

Yeah right. Prove it. I can't believe any educated person would say, "Oh yeah, you can chose to kill your baby if its ok with you & your doctor." Show me the proof.

CharlieFoxtrot1
CharlieFoxtrot1

@Discursions Remember. If obama could only save one life, just one life, he would do anything*

*anything does not include protecting viable babies from being dumped in broom closets to suffocate. Anything only means taking away people's right to defend themselves, not a woman's right to keep her figure by committing murder

LfLee
LfLee

What in the he?? does this have to do with Obama.  It amazes me that no matter what the contents of the story, so whack job like you always manages to tie it to Obama.  Get a life.

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

@Discursions 

I'm sure Mitt, had he not gotten his hat handed to him in the last election, could have put on his golden underwear and mumbled some Mormon incantations to save the baby. Sheesh!

markblumberg
markblumberg

IQ of 10: If you're going to accuse somebody of something you owe it to people to cite the information source. In this case you can't.

harte.ryan
harte.ryan

@DiscursionsThank you for taking this opportunity to comment on something that has nothing to do with Obama, Gosnell, or america in general. Back to your insulated bubble now.

DarwinAkbar
DarwinAkbar

@jhoughton1 

I think you underestimate how effective China's "Human Flesh Search Engine" really is. Often times, you don't even need an online profile to track a person down. The woman's face has been plastered all over television in China. Somebody knows this woman and her personal information. China's online community will find it one way or another. As the article mentions, China's online vigilante system has been famously deployed against corrupt officials, animal abusers, etc. Yesterday, it was reported a Chinese boy had written graffiti over an Egyptian temple while on a visit there. The online community tracked him down, found the name of his school, proceeded to hack the website of the school, and replaced the homepage with one that had the photo of the graffiti telling people what the boy had done. Think of the "Human Flesh Search Engine" as China's 4chan or redditt, but 10x as effective in exacting vigilante justice at their target. There are 500 million internet users in China. That's a lot of muscle for internet sleuthing!

harte.ryan
harte.ryan

@jhoughton1 You'd be surprised how much personal information you can find on someoneone with just a name or face

KeithDiggs
KeithDiggs

@agps44 

I believe that THIS kid has MORE than what it takes to survive this POS world! 

KeithDiggs
KeithDiggs

@LfLee 

OBAMA IS A POS WHO REFUSED TO SAVE BABIES WHO SURVIVED ABORTIONS. He is going to HELL when he dies and so are most liberal scum. YOU PEOPLE are NO DIFFERENT than the attempted BABY MURDERER that this story is about. You're all LIBERAL CHRIST HATING SCUM and you WILL be reckoned with! Soon and very soon we are going to see the King. 

KeithDiggs
KeithDiggs

@harte.ryan @Discursions 

BUT IT DOES. It has to do with the HEINOUS NATURE OF OBAMA AND GOSNELL! They are NO DIFFERENT THAN THIS WOMAN, in fact they are WORSE. They would have ANY babies killed that survive ABORTIONS whereas this POS of a woman would probably only kill her own child!!!

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

@DarwinAkbar @jhoughton1 Dude.  I wasn't questioning the efficacy of the HFSE.  I thought the story was poorly written in that it lacked the details that would have made for a coherent narrative.  I hope that vigilante justice thing works out -- on the face of it, I see that graffiti-kid's parents being the ones who should be slapped up and held to accounts., Kids will do anything.

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

@harte.ryan @jhoughton1 Of course.  I realize that.  But where in the article does it say that information was available for the searchers?  The woman walked out and reported something wrong with the toilet.  Writer left that aspect of the story there.  Incomplete, IMO

pquumm
pquumm

@allan @21stcentury Both of you know nothing about China, and here you're postulating the response of a people that you know absolutely nothing about.  People in China are just the same as anywhere else, but apparently you idiots don't quite understand that.

FairnessForAll
FairnessForAll

@KeithDiggs @LfLee How honorable of you to oppose all abortions!  Seeing about 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage (spontaneous abortion), people of faith usually say it is God's will.  Does this make God the biggest abortionist ever?  Does it make one wonder why God does not care about every single life?  How does that make us so honorable to care about every single little zygote, fetus, etc?  It is not a perfect world, so there will always be abortions, legal or not.  Get used to it!

GaySpecking
GaySpecking

Tou are as crazy as radical Islamist fundamentalists. You have no idea how desparate some women with unwanted pregnancies are. You have no compassion.

GaySpecking
GaySpecking

You are nuts. Another examole of far right exaggrration.

pquumm
pquumm

@allan @pquummPersonal insults?  Why don't you consider your slanderous insult against the Chinese people.  Sure in some rural parts there's a preference for male over female child.  Under the One Child Policy, Rural Chinese may have a second child if the first child is a female.  This policy certainly explains why there's a male-female imbalance.  Besides, younger and better educated Chinese people treat girls and boys all the same.  Even if there's a preference for baby boys, what's your basis for assuming that the Chinese people would be apathetic had this incident involved a baby-girl?  Keep your uneducated conjectures to yourself.


Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/05/29/parents-of-chinas-toilet-pipe-baby-feel-the-wrath-of-the-countrys-netizens/#ixzz2UhtknHuQ

markblumberg
markblumberg

Right. People should stop asserting opinion as fact. Instead, we have mob mentality.