‘If Beijing is like this …’: Storm in China over child abduction bid
Police criticised for their handling of an attempted kidnapping of an 11-month-old boy in a Beijing shopping centre in broad daylight
A Chinese father’s harrowing story of how his toddler was almost abducted by strangers in broad daylight this week has sparked online criticism of Beijing police for perceived leniency in dealing with the offenders.
In a lengthy Weibo post on Thursday, the man, who was unnamed, said that three middle-aged women tried to snatch the 11-month-old boy from his stroller in a shopping centre in Beijing’s Dahongmen district on Tuesday morning.
The man said his wife tried to grab her son but was restrained by two of the women. Passers-by eventually intervened and safely returned the boy to his mother.
The post included photos of stamped police documents relating to two of the offenders, showing they had received five days of administrative detention following the incident. It is understood that all of the women involved in the attempted kidnapping were apprehended and received the same punishment.
The man said police had revealed that one of the offenders claimed she thought the toddler was her grandchild.
When the family appealed the punishment on the grounds the women could have been trying to abduct the child for human trafficking purposes, the man said officers dismissed the case, downplaying it as a dispute over mistaken identity and closing investigations to “avoid unnecessary trouble”.
“I am deeply, deeply disappointed in the country’s legal system,” he wrote. “This is Beijing, China’s capital, and even here it’s so unsafe. If Beijing is really like this, then I dare not imagine what the situation is like in other places!”
The post was swiftly censored on Weibo after initially being widely shared across the social media platform.
On Friday morning, the man posted an update on Weibo, saying the family had submitted another appeal for the sentence to be reconsidered, and that they would be notified of the decision within 30 days.
Fengtai district police station acknowledged it had received the parents’ appeal in a statement on its official Weibo account on Friday.
“The Municipal Public Security Bureau attaches great importance to this case and has formed a special team to review it,” the police said.
“The Beijing police has always regarded cases involving minors as very important. We will severely crack down on criminal offences against minors according to the law, wholly protect children’s safety and safeguard parents’ rights and interests.”
People reacted to the man’s Weibo update with supportive comments as well as anger at the family’s alleged treatment by the police.
“Why does it need 30 days? That is too slow. I hope that Fengtai police station can soon give you and your family a reasonable explanation,” read one top-rated comment.
Child abduction cases regularly make the headlines in China where about 70,000 children are kidnapped and sold on the black market each year, according to a 2013 academic study.
Convicted offenders are normally sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison.