Killing of baby boy car passenger in China sparked outrage

A car thief has handed himself in to Chinese police after he admitted strangling a two-month-old baby that was in the back of a vehicle he had stolen.

Officers said the baby boy had been killed and dumped in a shallow grave in the snow.

The suspect, 48-year-old Zhou Xijun, stole the car in northeastern Jilin province. The baby's parents had left the child, Xu Haobo, alone in the car with the doors unlocked, according to state media.

They left the car outside their shop in the city of Changchun while they went inside to warm up their home before taking the baby inside.

Thousands of police officers were drafted in to look for the baby after the thief drove off with him.

His corpse was found near a motorway in Yongfa Township.

Jilin police said that Zhou had "discovered a baby in the back seat of the stolen car, stopped at the side of a road before strangling the baby to death and burying it in the snow".

On Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, one user wrote: "I would never have imagined that what people most feared would actually happen. The killer should be severely punished."

Another user added: "What has this world come to? How can humanity sink so low?"

Some critics said that the parents themselves had to take some reposnibsility for their child's death.

Aike917 wrote on Weibo: "I hope the murderer will be punished severely. Meanwhile, the parents should reflect on their mistakes because they cannot leave a child alone in a car or anywhere. The parents are also responsible for the incident."

Zhou could face the death penalty but the court may show leniency because he gave himself up.