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A photograph of a little Chinese boy urinating on the floor of a Shanghai metro train carriage has sparked debate after being widely circulated on social media, mainland media reports.

An

internet user based in Shanghai posted the picture – showing the boy relieving himself inside the train on Thursday while being helped by a grey-haired woman squatting next to him – on Weibo, mainland China’s equivalent of Twitter on Thursday evening.

This is too much, do you think this is a public toilet?
One comment on mainland social media

Other passengers were standing next to the boy, with two of them seen holding plastic bags, but none of them appeared to have tried to stop him.

The photograph was then shared on the Shanghai Morning Post’s official Weibo account on Thursday night. It had attracted more than 2,200 comments, including 1,200 “likes”, by about 10am on Friday.

A terrible generation will create an even more terrible generation! Education is very important
Another comment on mainland social media

While some of the posted comments expressed shock and anger, others voiced sympathy.

“This is too much, do you think this is a public toilet?” one comment said.

“A terrible generation will create an even more terrible generation!” another said. “Education is very important.”

One comment that was more supportive said: “Yes, the act isn’t very civilised, but don’t go overboard in your scolding. We are all Chinese people – people from rural areas have low levels of education. This is not just a tragedy for her [the woman helping the boy], but a tragedy for our society and country.”