Child courier in China sparks online concern

Xiaochangjiang (right) spends his first celebrated birthday at a welfare house in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Jan 14, 2018.
Xiaochangjiang (right) spends his first celebrated birthday at a welfare house in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Jan 14, 2018. PHOTO: CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BEIJING - The welfare of another young child in China has become an online talking point, after photographs of him reportedly working as a courier were circulated online.

The photos show the seven-year-old delivering goods in a residential area in downtown Qingdao, Shandong province, China Daily reported.

Thousands of people who have seen the photos on the WeChat messaging app have expressed concern about the boy's welfare.

The boy has been given the nickname Xiaochangjiang, which means "Little Yangtze River".

Mr Wang Qingwei, director of Qingdao Chess Association, had uploaded the photos of Xiaochangjiang and described how they met after the boy knocked on his door last week.

"He handed me a big package with some difficulty and asked me to sign a confirmation receipt," Mr Wang said.

Seeing the boy's hands were red with cold, Mr Wang invited him in for a rest.

The boy, who had never seen a chess set before, was fascinated by the game, said Mr Wang. He then gave the boy a chess set as a gift and told him to drop by and learn how to play.

According to Mr Wang, the boy had been living with his father's former colleague after his father died and his mother remarried, China Daily reported.

Home for the boy and his father's ex-colleague, Mr Yan Shifang, was a makeshift building at a delivery company's local branch in the city's Shibei district.

Xiaochangjiang helped Mr Yan deliver packages, according to China Daily.

A notice issued by Qingdao Shibei district government has confirmed Mr Yan's account. The district government said that an investigation is under way to locate his mother.

"The local police authority has not yet found the boy's registered household and we are trying to find the boy's mother," the notice said, according to China Daily.

After his plight came to light, Xiaochangjiang was sent to a local children's welfare home over the weekend.

"The boy is very smart and he is in good health," said deputy director Ren Linsong of the welfare home, adding that the home will care for him and help with his schooling.

On Sunday, Xiaochangjiang celebrated his birthday for the first time, at the welfare home.

His story comes as the Chinese online community is abuzz with discussions on the plight of children living in poverty.

Last week, the story of eight-year-old Wang Fuman who braved harsh winter conditions to get to school drew widespread attention to children from poor rural families.

Fuman's school principal had shared photos showing the icicles that formed on the boy's hair and eyebrows during his one-hour, 4.5km walk in minus 9 deg C conditions to go to school on Jan 8.

An avalanche of help has since poured in for Fuman and his school in rural Zhaotong, Yunnan province.