The viral video of a seven-year-old found working as a delivery boy in China's Qingdao city has highlighted the struggles of "left-behind children" in the country. These children, often from rural villages, are left to fend for their lives alone in the absence of their parents, who mostly travel to far away cities to work as migrant workers.
Li Changjiang, who was seen in a viral video delivering at least 30 parcels a day in harsh winter, was abandoned by his mother after his father's demise.
The video has sparked a nationwide debate about the future of such abandoned children. Li has been living with a delivery driver, who is also a friend of his deceased father, according to local media reports. But following outcry over his viral video, authorities have reportedly sent him to a state-run orphanage and are also arranging for his school.
After watching Li's video, many social media users criticised his mother, saying "How can a mother be so cruel" and "The mom will sure suffer for her guilty conscience".
His guardian Yan told Pear Video that he couldn't bear to leave Li on his own in his hometown, so he brought the boy to Qingdao, a busy metropolis with about six million people.
He added that Li once helped him deliver a parcel because he was running late. The boy liked the work so much that he has since continued to work. Speaking with Xinhua News Agency, Yan said: "At the beginning, I was worried, so I followed him (when he was delivering packages). After a few times, I realised everything was fine, so I just let him do it on his own."
"After a few times, I realised everything was fine, so I just let him do it on his own.
He also said that he could not manage to send Li school because his "hukou" is in his hometown Zaozhuang. Hukou is a system of household registration in China that lets people enjoy social benefits of the place where they were born.
And, as Li was born in Zaozhuang, he wouldn't be able to benefit any government benefit in Qingdao, including going to state schools or seeing the doctor.
However, now the authorities are resolving the issue of "hukou" and are also looking for Li's mother in an attempt to settle the issue of his custody.
The case comes days after a photo of an eight-year-old Chinese student covered in ice and frost after his long walk to school went viral.
Wang Fuman, dubbed "Frost Boy" by social media users, is a primary school student in southwest Yunnan province. His picture was taken by his school principal on the day when temperature was hovering around negative 9C.
A 2017 report by the Global Times states that about one-third of children living in countryside come under what is known as "left-behind children"– a term used for "children under the age of 16 whose parents are migrant workers, or who have one migrant-worker parent with the other incapable of guardianship".
According a Chinese Non-governmental organisation, On the Road to School, nearly 60% of the children living in rural settings see their parents less than twice a year.