Five boys were this week found dead in a garbage bin in south west China, where they seem to have suffocated. Reports of the tragedy offer a glimpse of the darkest corners of the world’s most populous nation in stark contrast to parts of its major cities strung up in lights as it unfolds a new leadership with promises of a better life.

The boys – part of the many so-called “left-behind” rural children – had been missing for more than a week after leaving the home they shared with their blind grandmother. They had sought shelter and warmth in the trash bin by lighting a fire, police said.

Their grim death raised questions on public morality that has been seemingly trampled by the country’s rapid economic growth, AP reports.

“This is a shame that cannot be washed away by a civilized society,” the Beijing Youth Daily wrote in an editorial.

It has also underlined the plight of families in impoverished rural areas, where an estimated 58 million children lack sufficient supervision as their parents seek employment in thriving coastal cities.

This comes as Xi Jinping gave his first speech as China’s new leader, pledging to improve the country’s education, employment, social security, housing and health care.

“Our people have an ardent love for life,” Mr. Xi said in his speech. “They want their children to have sound growth, have good jobs and lead a more enjoyable life”.