A four-year-old girl has been left fighting for her life after she was abducted and raped by a neighbour of her grandparents.

The 54-year-old attacker, identified only as Liu, was sentenced to death by a court in Harbin, north-eastern China, on Wednesday having left his victim with severe organ infections and injuries.

He admitted to police to snatching the girl from her home before assaulting her in a drainage ditch near a construction site, according to a court report.

The girl's family reported her missing on the night of August 29 - telling authorities Liu had come by the house that day asking for a drink.

Sentencing was passed by a court in Harbin, north-eastern China, on Wednesday

The following morning he brought her back covered in bruises and with blood on her trousers, before being arrested later that day.

The little girl also had a fever due to having contracted a bacterial infection.

She remains in a critical condition in an intensive care ward, her father told local media following the sentencing yesterday.

"He brought my child back in the morning around 6am," the girl's grandmother said. "I thought to myself, 'this is bad, he had harmed my child'."

Her mum added: "She kept shivering and her eyes were glazed. She dared not speak."

At the time of the incident, the girl's father said: "The doctors told me that my child was nearly unconscious and had severe infections."

He told state media China News this week his daughter is "still critically ill".

"All of her organs have been infected and damaged. She is also suffering from kidney failure."

Following a trial, the Intermediate People's Court of Harbin also deprived Liu - who previously served two prison sentences for murder and rape - of political rights for life.

It is not yet known if he plans to appeal the death sentence.

Wang Guijin, a lawyer with Heilongjiang Weihong Law Office, said the case has led to amendments of the Law on Protection of Minors strengthening protections for children

"Parents, teachers, community workers and experts can provide more information and knowledge to improve the children's awareness of self-protection," he added.