March 5 is officially declared “Learn from Lei Feng Day” in mainland China.
Lei Feng was a model soldier set by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1950's as someone who is always willing to give help.
To evaluate how the modern Chinese perceive the “Lei Feng spirit,” a reporter from Western Economic Daily conducted a social experiment to see whether strangers would accept help from him. Out of his 20 attempts to help, he was refused 19 times and was accused of having ulterior motives.
On the morning of March 5, the reporter went to Lanzhou Railway Station to offer travelers help in carrying their luggage. One woman with multiple suitcases pushed the reporter when offered help. Before dashing into a taxi, she snapped, “I am a local resident! I don't need your help!”
When the reporter offered to help a young man carry his luggage, the young man held onto his bags tightly and declined help. Once the reporter disclosed his identity and purpose, the young man exclaimed, “I thought you were either trying to con me or take me to your hotel!”
At the railway station, 14 other travelers refused his help.
Later, the reporter went to the city square to try and help the elderly cross the street. One woman pushed the reporter and called her son to report that a swindler is confronting her. After the reporter revealed his identity, the elderly woman said, “Nowadays, many swindlers approach us by helping us cross the street. I have a friend who was deceived by a person who claimed to assist her.”
Soon after, one elderly woman finally accepted his offer in assisting her to cross the street.
To conclude his experiment, the reporter went to deliver fruits to a hospital and volunteer to help the staff. He was accused to being a thief and trying to swindle. After explaining his reason for helping to a nurse, the nurse still claimed, “You must have some other purpose. Are you trying to sell medicine? Otherwise, nowadays, who would do such a thing?”