Posted by: Sam Olsen | October 18, 2011

Morality crash: 2 year old girl the victim

A few years ago I was standing on a trolleybus (a type of tram) in St Petersburg when a car pulled out in front, and the trolleybus had to break sharply. An elderly man fell forward, banging his arm but not being seriously hurt. “This would never have happened under Stalin!” he shouted to the rest of us.

In post-Communist countries, it is often the case that the elderly miss the ‘good old days’, even though they probably weren’t particularly enamoured by the system during their youth. And it is easy to understand why, because if being of a certain age means you are more likely to want absolute certainty and won’t necessarily care too much about freedom, if it means you can give up work aged 50 on a full (unaffordable) pension.

Yet here in China, the modern age seems to have changed a few things too. Amidst the increasing wealth, the better freedom, the higher accountability – in fact, all positive things that the true Communist system pre-liberalisation was absolutely unwilling and unable to supply – there are certain nuggets of filth that have seemingly appeared.

One is the attitude of drivers to car crash victims. At lunch with factory workers George and Plum in Daliang yesterday, they told me what happens if you get into a smash on the roads.

“If you are driving and you hit someone, then you have to pay for them for the rest of their lives. If you kill someone then you must make one payment only. And if you make this payment, then you stay out of jail. If you cannot make payment, you go to jail”. You have to pay money to someone for the rest of their life, I asked incredulously? “Yes, which is why truck drivers they often reverse back over the man when they hit him to make sure he is dead, to save money”.

Fear of paying the victim is made worse by several recent high-profile cases where people helping the victims of hit and runs, or accidents in general, for fear of being mistaken (accidentally or deliberately) for the person that caused the accident in the first place; they are then sued, as this article extract shows:

On November 20, 2006, an elderly woman in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, who suffered two fractures after falling at a bus station successfully sued Peng Yu, a man who claimed to have voluntarily helped her.

Despite not having adequate evidence to reconstruct the scene, a local court found Peng guilty and ordered him to pay about 45,000 yuan ($7,057.17) in compensation to the elderly woman.

The verdict was based on “logical thinking,” saying it was highly possible that Peng had knocked the woman down, or he would not have helped her to hospital. The case was eventually settled outside court with mediation from provincial officials.

On August 26, Yin Hongbin, a bus driver from Nantong, Jiangsu Province, stopped his vehicle after seeing an old woman lying under a tricycle.

After helping the old woman to the side of the road, the woman told police that it was Yin’s bus that had knocked her down.
Surveillance footage eventually cleared the driver of the allegations.

Such cases have dealt a blow to the long-held value of helping the weak and forced people to think twice before doing a good deed.

Not surprisingly people would rather watch someone in the gutter than risk a year in court and the loss of their life savings.

On February 22, passengers on a bus in Nanjing reportedly refused to help a 75-year-old man who had fallen while getting off until he yelled out, “I fell down myself. You don’t need to worry, it’s nothing to do with you.”

A nadir of all this happened last week in Foshan, which coincidentally is next to where I had my lunch yesterday. The BBC takes up the story.

Chinese media and internet users have voiced shock at a hit-and-run incident involving a two-year-old child left injured in the road as passers-by ignored her.

The toddler was hit by a van on Thursday in the city of Foshan.

After the van sped off, several pedestrians and vehicles passed the girl without stopping. Several minutes later she was hit by another vehicle.

A rubbish collector finally helped her, but she is said to be seriously hurt.

The footage showed the van hitting the little girl, pausing briefly while she was under the vehicle and then driving off, running over her legs.

It then showed about a dozen passers-by, including cyclists, a motorcyclist and a woman and child, noticing the little girl lying injured in the street but walking on.

After she was hit by the second vehicle, a rubbish collector spotted the little girl and moved her to the kerb, then began looking for her mother.

The child, Yue Yue, was taken to hospital for emergency surgery but pronounced brain dead on Sunday, the China Daily reported.

The newspaper said she had wandered off while her mother went to collect some laundry.

The drivers of both vehicles have now been arrested, the newspaper said, but the incident has also triggered outcry among Chinese citizens.

It provoked a storm of comment on microblogging site Weibo.

“Even pigs and dogs are better than they are!” said one angry contributor about the passers-by.

“In China, there’s no bottom line for human ethics anymore! China is ‘smashing’ new records again and again!” commented another.

Others were more reflective. “Now people ignore everything other than money. This society is lacking people with a conscience badly.”

Some said they understood the dilemma for the passers-by – that if they helped out they might incur costs or be blamed for the accident.

One question to ask about all this is whether indeed morals have changed over the last 10 years, or whether perhaps it is a case of plus ca change, with the only difference being the press’ ability to report such things now.

Yet whatever the reason, it is clear that the Government needs to do something about a system that encourages behaviour that shocks and appalls the whole world over.

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Responses

  1. […] Morality crash: 2 year old girl the victim (olsensintheorient.wordpress.com) […]

  2. I’ve never been more appalled at the lack of humanity in this case.

    Even if the passers by were terrified of getting prosecuted wrongly over assisting the child, how would ever a mother accuse good Samaritans who want to help her child when the girl was lying mangled by the roadside that way?

    China will need to do a whole lot more to recover from this one.


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