'She started gutting fish aged 3': Sublime knife skills of Chinese girl, 9, stun customers and millions online

Online plaudits are pouring in for a nine-year-old Chinese girl who guts and descales fish like a professional on her parents’ seafood stall in southern China.

A viral video clip of the girl, who has become known by her nickname, Xiaomin, deftly handling fish was uploaded to Douyin, the mainland version of TikTok, Jiupai News reports.

The male customer who filmed the clip, surnamed Feng, said he has visited the family fish stall in Yunfu, Guangdong province, several times and has always been amazed at the knife skills the girl shows as she helps out her parents.

On one occasion, Feng said he watched as Xiaomin’s father weighed a fish and handed it to his daughter. Fully expecting the girl to simply play with the slippery sea animal, he was shocked to see Xiaomin slap it down on a chopping board and begin to expertly descale it.

“She did it even better than I can. It only took her one minute to remove all the scales,” Feng was quoted as saying. “My kid is 12 years old, but is nowhere near as capable as her. I am touched by her for being so considerate to help her parents,” Feng said.

The girl’s father, surnamed Chen, said his daughter began helping on the fish stall when she was just three years old.

“We didn’t intentionally teach her to do it. She just saw that we were busy and took an initiative to give us a hand,” he was quoted as saying.

Xiaomin, a Primary Four pupil, usually lends a hand on the stall at weekends, her father added.

Chen also has two sons, aged seven and eight, who take turns to do household chores, like washing and cooking rice, and cleaning up, he said.

Chen said he tells his children to be diligent in life.

“I told them that when they grow up, they will find that it’s hard to do a job. So you should learn to be diligent. You won’t make money if you are lazy,” he said.

The video – which has been viewed more than six million times on Douyin alone – has captivated mainland Chinese social media.

“What a good and sensible girl! Her friends should learn from her,” wrote one poster on Douyin.


“I support children learning from real life. It’s better than sending them to study at after-school academic classes,” another said.

But some people were suspicious and wondered if Xiaomin was being treated as a child labourer by her parents.

“Are you sure she likes doing this, rather than being forced to?” One said on Weibo, adding: “There is a strong fishy smell here. I don’t think a little girl would like to be there.”

“Many people think the girl is cool, but I think she is pathetic. I feel sorry for her. What about her childhood? She shouldn’t experience this at such a young age,” another person said.

Chen, however, hit back at such allegations: “This is a purely domestic matter. A kid helping her family do something is not child labour. She is just doing what is within her capabilities and it is part of household chores,” the father told Jiupai News.

“We are happy that people are signing praises for the hard work our kid puts in helping her parents,” he added.

In May, a five-year-old boy in Zhejiang province in eastern China trended on social media for helping out his parents at the family’s barbecue restaurant, news portal reported.

In a viral video he is seen setting tables and serving plates of fruit to customers.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.


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