Starving Guangzhou girl safe in HK hospital

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 12:00am


A starving Hong Kong-born girl who jumped from the balcony of her Guangzhou home to find food was being cared for in Prince of Wales Hospital last night, after being returned to Hong Kong by her mother.

The plight of the malnourished eight-year-old girl, who had been living with her father and stepmother in the middle-class suburb of Panyu, has made headlines on both sides of the border since her case came to light on Sunday.

Guangzhou reports said she had been locked on the first-floor balcony from which she jumped on Thursday to get food. She was sent to hospital for observation after social workers visited her at her mother's Sha Tin home yesterday morning.

A person familiar with the case said the girl did not complain of any ill effects from the jump. The Social Welfare Department in Hong Kong said that after the hospital examination, the girl would be cared for by relatives.

A spokesman said the department was 'deeply concerned about the welfare needs of the girl'.

'Social workers will discuss the welfare needs and custody of the girl with her mother,' he said. The department began looking into her case after her plight was reported last week.

On Monday, her maternal grandfather sought help from the department's Sha Tin office. On the same day her mother, a Hong Kong resident in her 30s, went to Panyu and brought the girl back to Hong Kong.

When her parents divorced four years ago her father, a well-off blasting engineer, was given custody of the girl while her younger sister stayed with her mother.

Mainland media reports - quoting angry internet users who tracked him down through a 'human flesh search' - identified the father as Xing Guangwu, 46, a graduate of Chongqing University.

He and the unidentified stepmother were quoted as saying they were exhausted from trying to correct the girl's bad habits, such as skipping meals, lying and stealing.

But her schoolteacher and neighbours said she was an excellent and obedient student, and they were shocked to learn how skinny she had become in recent months.