Girl’s attack on toddler jolts China

This post has been corrected as indicated below.

BEIJING -- A videotaped assault of a toddler by an 11-year-old girl in a high rise in Chongqing has in recent days riveted Chinese, inviting comparisons to some of the world’s most brutal child murders.

The boy was snatched by the girl in the building’s elevator Nov. 27 as the boy’s grandmother tried to maneuver his tricycle out of the closing elevator doors at the ground floor, apparently planning to take him outside.

Closed-circuit television showed the girl, her hair in pigtails and wearing a backpack, throwing the small boy repeatedly onto the floor and kicking him.


The 18-month-old later either fell or was thrown from the girl’s 25th-floor balcony.

The toddler survived the fall, which was broken by bushes in the lawn of the apartment complex. The boy is listed in critical condition with multiple fractures and a pulmonary hemorrhage. He is supposed to undergo surgery next week.

The boy’s father, a migrant construction worker, wrote on a blog posting Friday that his son had awoken from a coma: “I haven’t seen Yuanyuan as I cannot enter the Intensive Care Unit. I only heard Yuanyuan was awake and he was crying. Yuanyuan: don’t be afraid, Mom and Dad will always guard you!”

The girl, identified only by her surname, Li, told her parents that she had attacked the boy because he had made angry faces at her.

“She wanted him to smile at her and be friendly to her,” the father was quoted as telling Global Times, a state newspaper.

He said his daughter loves small animals and children, “but her ways of expressing herself have problem,’’ the newspaper reported. He said his daughter told him she didn’t throw the child from the balcony but that he fell while they were playing.

The girl has not been criminally charged because she is under the legal age of 14 to be prosecuted in China. The boy’s family, however, is reported to be suing her family for $50,000.

Neighbors told the Chinese media that the girl had pinched small children in the past, and classmates were quoted as saying that she had told them she wanted to “put a baby in a bag and throw it downstairs.”

The girl’s parents are employees of a chemical company. Five days after the incident, the mother and the girl moved to Xinjiang in far western China, claiming they did so because the mother was being transferred.

The assault has dominated Chinese social media sites for days, with commentators comparing it to the 1993 torture and murder of a British toddler, James Bulger, by two 10-year-olds.

“This satanic horror film happened in real life. There is such a contrast between the image of the innocent girl carrying a backpack and her extremely cruel heart,” wrote a microblogger, Lai Zhiyu, who works for a Shanghai advertising agency. “She shocked the whole society.”

[For the record, 1:20 p.m. PST, Dec. 6, 2013: A previous version of this post omitted the reference to the boy falling or being thrown from the 25th-floor balcony.]


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Liu is an assistant in The Times’ Beijing bureau.