Chinese citizens and microbloggers have erupted in anger over the murder of a two-month old baby in a northeast province taking online focus away from the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (CPC), the country's Parliament.
The incident occurred earlier this week when the suspect, Zhou Xijun, 49, stole an SUV parked outside a shop. The infant was sleeping on the backseat and his father had stepped out of the car to open the entry to the shop.
According to the police, Zhou drove the car for about six kilometers. He then allegedly strangled the baby and buried him in the snow.
By that time, the police had launched a hunt for him. The news was first published on the microblogging account of national broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV) and quickly spread on the internet. State media said more than 8000 police personnel were deployed to look for the suspect and the baby.
Zhou gave himself up to the police soon after, confessed to the crime and led the police to the spot where he had buried the infant.
Public anger has not been limited to online rage. Residents of Changchun town in Jilin province rushed to the police station where the suspect was being held.
Candle light vigils were held to mourn the death of the baby.
Liu Tao, a law professor with the People's Public Security University of China, told the Global Times that Zhou is most likely to get the death penalty, noting that the law only stipulated that a confession "might" lead to a more lenient sentence.
Liu added that the courts should learn lessons from past experience, in which they had to hand out a harsher punishment due to public backlash against the original sentence.
Yuan Yulai, a lawyer in Zhejiang province who has over half a million followers on the popular Sina Weibo (microblog) told the newspaper that the government's practice of obsessing over GDP figures and ignoring people's needs is to blame for the moral bankruptcy in society.
"The various practices of forced demolition and forced abortion reflect a lack of respect for people's lives and dignity, which made society imitate bad examples. It's a lack of faith in people, and the contempt of people has become a culture," Yuan said.