SUN WUKONG Little Yueyue and China's moral road
By Wu Zhong, China Editor
HONG KONG - "What has happened to our morality?" "Where are our hearts of
sympathy?" "How come we could ever become even more cruel and hard-hearted than
cold-blooded animals?" These were questions being asked by outraged Chinese
media and bloggers over a recent incident hit-and-run incident which saw
bystanders indifferently walk past a toddler who was struck by a van, only for
the child to be hit by a second vehicle.
The incident happened on October 13 in Foshan city in southern Guangdong, the
richest province in China, and was captured by a surveillance camera. The
footage was aired by the province's Southern Television Guangdong (TVS) and
posted last Saturday on the Chinese video site Youku, drawing around 2 million
and thousands of comments on that site alone.
The footage shows a two-and-a-half-year-old girl hit and run over by a large
white van while walking down a street in a market district of Foshan. About six
minutes later, another passing van runs her over again. During the interval, at
least 18 people walk by without helping her. Finally last an elderly trash
collector comes to her aid, moving her to a side of the street and calling her
According to Xinhua, doctors say the girl, Yueyue, from a rural migrant
workers' family, is brain dead and surviving on life support in a deep coma.
Police said the drivers of both vehicles have been arrested. 
"I was picking up trash in the hardware market when I saw a child lying in the
road. I walked up in a hurry to the girl and heard her groan, " said trash
collector Chen Xianmei. "I lifted her up and saw that one of her eyes was
closed, that she had tears in her eyes, and she was bleeding from her mouth,
nose and the back of her head.
"I wanted to carry her but she was soft and collapsed immediately. I was scared
to try again and so I dragged her to the side of the road and shouted for help.
But nobody showed up," Chen was quoted in Yangcheng Evening News as saying.
Chen asked a few nearby shopkeepers who the girl was and only heard "I don't
know" in reply. 
The apathy of the bystanders and people in the neighborhood has shocked the
public, with media commentators and netizens seething over an incident that
raises questions about the morality and conscience of today's China.
"[Ancient Chinese thinker] Mencius said, 'The heart of sympathy is essential to
man.' What has made us so apathetic?... Lack of sympathy is a moral disaster
facing us all … Let us all ask ourselves if we had passed by the scene, how
many of us would have stopped to help the girl?" wrote a commentary on
It went on to blame the system for a lack of mechanisms that support good
deeds. "Our current system is obviously in an embarrassing status: corruption
continues to run wild and evil people enjoy privileges, scandals with charity
organizations such as the Red Cross stop people from donating to help the
needy.  All this certainly shakes up the beliefs of kind-hearted people."
Others have linked the absence of good Samaritans to a previous court ruling in
Tianjin. There, a man who said he'd helped an elderly woman who had fell on the
street was accused by the old lady and her family of knocking her down. The
court ordered the man to pay a huge compensation and his appeal is now awaiting
a higher court's ruling.
However, a commentary on Guangzhou-based Information Times says it is unfair to
blame the law. "Everyone saw clearly that the girl was run over by vans. No
passers-by could possibly be wronged by her parents. Despite the circumstances,
still no one would even just make an emergency call. We believe all viewers of
the footage have passed down their judgment on those passers-by."
"The trash-collecting lady has given us a most vivid lesson. How have our
people have become so apathetic? It is evident that we must strengthen our
A signed article in the China Youth Daily wrote that fears of liability are not
an adequate excuse for not helping, and that this case exposes a decline of
humanity in Chinese society.
The Foshan incident is by no means an isolated case of moral decline.
On September 2, an 88-year-old man collapsed in Hubei in central China, his
face striking the pavement. No one came to his aid though he law on a crowded
street for about 90 minutes, and he ended up choking to death on the blood from
his nose. 
Several days ago at a high school in Changchun in northeast China,
basketball-playing students began fight. One of them phoned his parents for
help. Their parents, local rich business people, rushed to the scene with
dozens of men armed with big knives. The mother shouted: "Let's hit them.
Afterwards I'll pay for their medical treatment." One of the students was
stabbed more than a dozen times and later died in hospital.
"What great hatred had the parents towards that student? Why did they want his
death? What happened to the traditional Chinese virtue of 'extend my love of my
children to others' children'?" said a commentary on Chongqing Times.
Netizens are now calling for a good Samaritan law that would protect people who
intervene in such incidents from legal repercussions. But legislation may not
be enough. For instance, it offers no solution cases such as Changchun
For more meaningful results, society has to take a hard look at the spread of
money worship in the past three decade. It is money that has eaten away at
people's sympathy and caused moral decline in Chinese society.
Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, now trying to restore Mao-style ideological
education in his jurisdiction, earlier said, "Our younger generations seem to
know only about making money. This will put our country in jeopardy."
But what can the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) do now Pandora's box has been
opened? Whether the blood of little Yueyue is the last shed to awaken the
conscience of Chinese society is a question to be answered by the CCP, its
government and the whole of Chinese society.