The world was stunned when Chinese newspapers and media outlets broke the news that a newborn baby boy had been abandoned and flushed down a toilet in the Jinhua, Zhejiang province, lodging the infant in a pipe that required doctors and rescuers to save him.
In response to the story, many are reacting online with swift and harsh criticism against the baby's parents, Time magazine reports.
The child is currently known as Baby No. 59, named after the hospital number on his incubator. Baby No. 59's story has caused outraged Chinese citizens to take to Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social media site.
"What kind of beasts can do such a thing?" one user posted to Sina Weibo in reference to the child's parents.
"His parents should be put into prison and never be allowed to touch him again," another user wrote, according to Time. As the normal judicial system in China cannot be counted on for fair results, the Internet acts as a vigilante justice system of its own, so effective that it's even been nicknamed The Human Flesh Search Engine.
Even though some online content is censored, the Internet remains the most open forum for Chinese citizens, who "rarely" trust the county's state-run, Chinese Communist Party media to deliver accurate, unbiased news.
Baby No. 59 is suspected to be a victim of China's strict one-child policy, in which fines are given to mothers who have additional children. This policy has effected many young and poor mothers, resulting in growing child abandonment and infanticide across the country. According to an August 2012 issur of Beijing Youth Daily, more than 10,000 abandoned babies ended up in a special Beijing ward over the last decade.
However, the story of Baby No. 59 does not appear to be directly related to the one-child policy, Time, as young and unmarried women around the world dispose of unwanted children. In addition, it is rare that a boy would be abandoned, as male children are favored over girls in China, with Chinese orphanages crowded with far more girls than boys.
Local police initially posted on Weibo that they are treating the case as an attempted murder, but apparently are dialing back those charges. However, that doesn't change the viewpoints of Chinese Weibo users.
"More and more young parents treat their own flesh and blood so viciously," wrote one user, NBC News reports. "Treating a life like this is no different than murder."
The young mother in question was taken by her parents to an unidentified hospital, different from the one in which her son has been admitted. The baby is now stabilized, though he has suffered severe bruising, and will be placed into the care of social services.