The murder that shakes China – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

The murder that shakes China – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

On March 11, police found the body of a boy in an abandoned greenhouse in a village in Hebei Province. They raise the tarpaulin. The scene that confronts the police officers doesn't just shake them. It's shaking China.

A father shares the experience of seeing his dead son.

He was beaten and is still alive. The boy's father wrote on Douyin, the platform of TikTok owners in China, that his body was mutilated beyond recognition.

I hope the authorities will be fair and open, and punish them severely. He added that the killers will pay with their lives for this.

The autopsy report should be ready in two to three weeks. Three 13-year-old boys from the murdered boy's school were arrested on the same day the body was found. They have the status of suspects.

The police have so far only released the boy's last name; Wang.

A wave of compassion and anger

Millions of Chinese have expressed their support on social media. Several photos shared by Wang. Some provide illustrations of the crime itself. Parents of children of the same age post videos of themselves digging graves To the three boys who have now been arrested. They have the status of suspects.

Many of them draw pictures of the boy who was killed.

Parents of children post videos of digging their children's graves.

According to the father, the three intimidated his son for several weeks. An investigator told state television channel CCTV that evidence suggested the murder was planned.

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– In two rounds – the day before and on the day of the murder Local police officer Li Yafeng told CCTV they dug the hole into which they threw the boy.

“The children left behind”

All children, victims and alleged killers, are under 14 years old. They are what they are called in China “They left behind children”.

That is, children who grow up with their grandparents in the countryside while their parents work in big cities.

The village where the 13-year-old was killed is located outside Handan City in Hebei Province.

Photo: AP

In China, there are 295.6 million people who are migrant workers, according to 2022 National Bureau of Statistics figures.

These are the workers who built the factories and infrastructure that made China the world's largest exporter. These are women and men who have worked since childhood in factories that make cell phones and computers. Those who sew sports shoes for consumers in the West buy.

These women assemble solar panels at a factory in Jiangsu.  Modern China was built largely by migrant workers who moved to cities for work.

These women assemble solar panels in a factory in Jiangsu province. Modern China was built largely by migrant workers who moved to cities for work.

Photo: Agence France-Presse

Discussions about the living conditions and raising of children of migrant workers in China have been ongoing for decades.

This situation has become a wake-up call.

A politically sensitive murder

It is rare for children to be killed by children in China. The murder of teenager A Fierce debate about bullying and mental health in rural China.

It is clear that the three children in this case lack the empathy and compassion that they should have learned through school, and which should have been the basis of their upbringing in adolescence.

This is what independent psychologist and teacher Wang Guorong, who works in the city of Suzhou, told NRK about the suspects – if they are convicted.

Wang Jurong, psychologist and teacher

– Spiritual and moral development has not been able to keep pace with increasing material prosperity, says psychologist Wang Guorong.

Photo: Wang Jurong

The attention surrounding the murder makes the case politically sensitive. Among the many researchers and lawyers contacted by NRK, there are a few who are willing to speak to a foreign media house.

But in backroom conversations, many of them paint a somewhat similar picture: In China, you are measured from a young age by your results in school, or how rich you are.

If you don't do well in school, and your family is not relatively wealthy, you are left behind, according to the sources NRK spoke to.

This applies to all of China, but it is strengthened in the countryside. The immediate environment is poorer. Schools are worse.


A lunch break at a school for migrant children in Anhui province in 2012. Many of these children may be migrant workers themselves today.

Photo: Agence France-Presse

Children here are not just being left behind. They have been excluded.

Wang Gurong believes that spiritual and moral education is completely paralyzed.

– Everyone must take responsibility

The psychiatrist supports the lawyer Jiang Zhaojun of Juntuo Law Firm in Shanghai. He says this if the three suspects were behind the crime:

They didn't become killers overnight. They are teenagers. They grow up in this society, not in a vacuum. We have to think about this, and everyone must take responsibility, Jiang tells NRK.

Jiang Zhaojun, lawyer, Shanghai

The situation in Hebei is not unique at all. Lawyer Jian Zhaojun says that legal protection for juveniles does not receive enough attention.

Photo: private

Presumably it was stolen for pocket money

High pressure and a more active Chinese press than usual mean that we know more than usual about Chinese crime cases.

The police are said to have found the three boys with help Surveillance Cameras And by questioning classmates.

The last sign of life is surveillance video of the boy sitting on a motorcycle surrounded by the three boys. An hour later, his phone was said to have died. When the families couldn't catch him, they started looking for him.

My baby was still alive around 3:00pm on March 10th. The father told the Beijing News that all his money was transferred from his phone at 4:10 p.m., and his phone was turned off.

The boy is said to have 191 yuan, or 280 Norwegian kroner, on a Chinese app compatible with Vipps or Apple Pay. The money must have gone to a similar app on the phone of one of the three boys. Even in rural China, this is little more than pocket money or money to cover school meals for a few weeks.

Reducing the minimum criminal age

In 2021, China lowered the minimum criminal age from 12 to 14 years. But the use of general criminal law against children as young as 12 must be approved by China's public prosecutors, which are subject to the Chinese Supreme Court. This killing is considered a test of the new law.

The authorities are watching closely. Courts in China are not independent from political control. How authorities interpret people's sense of justice could have an impact on the case.

The death penalty is widely used

The death penalty is widely used and widely supported in China. Many are also calling for the death penalty for the three thirteen-year-olds, if found guilty.

We cannot blame these three children and demand the death penalty. Lawyer Jiang says of the three suspects that this is not the solution to such a problem.

No lawyer Jiang Zhao Jun And the psychiatrist Wang Jurong He says bullying is a widespread problem in schools in China. Schools have to be evasive on issues of bullying and do not always give children the safety they deserve.

Our schools do not bear responsibility. They only focus on textbook teaching and completely ignore moral education and legal awareness. Schools are focusing more on things like homework, the lawyer says.

03/25/2024 at 12.47 pm

Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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