The video: Millions of Chinese people were horrified this week by a "gruesome" video clip showing a 2-year-old girl being hit by a van, then lying in the street while 18 people walked past without coming to her aid (see a news report below). A second vehicle ran over the toddler, named Yue Yue, before a 57-year-old trash collector finally came to her aid, pulling her out of the street and calling out to her parents. Yue Yue is reportedly on life support and "close to brain dead." Several of the passersby have insisted that they hadn't seen the child, while others are ashamed of their indifference. The video of the tragedy prompted nationwide soul-searching on social media — getting 4 million comments within 24 hours on the Chinese version of Twitter — with many asking whether the country had "lost its moral bearings" in its race to get rich.
The reaction: This video is "a terrible wake-up call" for China, says Colin Brazier at Sky News. In the nation's "gallop towards affluence and material plenty," the poor seem to have been forgotten. Blame "the corruption of the government officials," says Beijing sociology professor Zhou Xiaozheng, as quoted by The Washington Post. Bystanders who look the other way are just taking their cues from a system that shows no respect for individual rights. Chinese courts actually discourage good Samaritans, George Washington University law professor Donald Clarke tells the Toronto Star, sometimes making them pay for the treatment of people they save, reasoning that "if you hadn't done it, why would you have taken them to the hospital?" Watch a CNN report on the tragedy (warning: The clip contains disturbing images of the accident's aftermath):
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 9 Harvard dropouts who became fabulously successful
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- The dangers of our passionless American life
- How China sparked an Asian frenzy for killer submarines
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
- The amazing resurrection of Mitt Romney
Subscribe to the Week