At first sight it seems the ultimate in child cruelty - a two-year-old boy chained to a lamp post to stop him getting away.
Yet his parents say this is the only way they can guarantee not to lose him.
His father Chen Chuanliu works as an unlicensed rickshaw cyclist in Beijing, taking fares all over the city, while the boy's disabled mother collects rubbish at the roadside.
Child snatching is rife in China, where strict laws govern the size of families.
Concerned passers-by spotted the shackled toddler outside Huaguan Shopping Mall in Liangxiang.
They reported his father to the authorities, who yesterday ordered him to remove the chain although it was not clear what arrangements he would make in future.
There is no nursery place for Lao Lu because his 42-year-old father is a migrant worker from another province, Szechuan, and therefore does not qualify for state help. The family live in one room, 9ft by 8ft.
Chen said he could not afford to pay for childcare on his earnings of £4.50 a day and had refused offers of 'a lot of money' to give his son up for adoption.
'My wife cannot take care of him and I have to work to support my family. So I chain him to a pole when I have a fare.
'I don't even have a picture of my daughter to use for a missing-person poster. I cannot lose my son as well.'