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Little Yueyue and China's moral road

Little Yueyue and China's moral road - "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 views 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 mother.

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 Chongqing Times.

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 morals."

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 stabbing.

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. ( )

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