Video posted on social media shows children lying in the street after being hit by the vehicle in Huludao, Liaoning province.
Other children are seen looking on at about noon local time.
A cyclist is filmed being thrown off their bike.
A cook at a nearby noodle restaurant, Wang Mingkuan, said he saw “about a dozen children lying on the ground, some of them bleeding, all about 7 or 8 years old”.
He added that “two or three showed no signs of life”.
A witness quoted by Sina News said he saw “children’s shoes” and “traces of blood” on the ground.
State media said 19 people were injured – all but three of them children. The others were two teachers and someone who was passing at the time.
Footage from a security camera shows the car changing lines prior to the collision, before swerving into the children.
It is unclear whether the driver, who is in custody, drove into the youngsters deliberately, or had been trying to avoid obstacles.
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