Society

Charitable Chinese Child Abductors Chicken Out, Handing Victim $80 For Her Troubles

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“Stockholm Syndrome” is the official name for what happens when hostages get emotionally attached to their hostage takers. The strange, and strangely common, psychological phenomenon is named after a 1973 bank robbery in the Swedish capital that ended with hostages, who had been held for six days, coming to the defense of the robbers.

But what is it called when the hostage takers display empathy for their victims? After a recent incident in China’s southeastern coastal province of Zhejiang, maybe it should become known as Lu and Xie Syndrome.

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A judge looked this inmate straight in the eyes and said something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

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A judge looked this inmate straight in the eyes and said something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

Lu and Xie were the only names given by a court in the Zhejiang city of Taizhou for two men convicted of kidnapping an 11-year old girl  only to release her when they realized that her family had no money to pay ransom. In a final humanitarian touch, the kidnapper known as Lu handed the child 500 yuan, or about $80 in American money, to help her family get by.

The two men, natives of Fujian Province, just south of Zhejiang on China’s east coast, incurred gambling debts that they would never pay without drastic action. They began planning how to get one million yuan (US$163,400).

So elaborate was their planning that they spent 10,000 yuan of their own money (about US$1,630) on the plot, including travel expenses, rental car and various tools to be used in the planned child abduction. But they forgot one thing: a target.

They simply snatched a girl, walking alone on a Taizhou street. They drove around with her, then chickened out and called off the caper when they learned that she came from a near-destitute family and they saw too many police on the streets. They let the girl go, with Lu handing her cash.

Lu and Xie received sentences of four and five years, respectively.

This story took an amusing turn, but child kidnapping in China is no joke. The Chinese government admits that 10,000 children kidnapped each year in the country, most often with no ransom demands. Instead the children are sold into forced labor and the sex trade. The U.S. State Department believes that the number of kidnapped kids is twice the Chinese government’s estimate, while other independent experts put the number as high as 70,000.

SOURCES: Shanghai Daily, China Daily, Foreign Policy