Anguished China Reflects After Toddler Crushed
UPDATE: Little Yueyue, the 2-year-old Chinese girl whom 18 people passed by after she was crushed under the wheels of two cars on Oct. 13, died in the early morning of Oct. 21.
The Chinese people have suffered a lot from the decay of moral standards in China: dairy farmers lace milk with the industrial chemical melamine, giving infants kidney stones; builders make schools out of shoddy materials, causing thousands of children to be crushed in the Sichuan earthquake; officials enrich themselves by stealing homes and farmland and selling the land to developers; rich and powerful men in limousines pick up girls after high school and use them as mistresses.
But the fate of little Yueyue of Foshan City, caught by a surveillance camera whose video seemingly everyone in China has now seen, has touched a nerve like never before. The failure on Oct. 13 of 18 people to come to the aid of the 2-year-old, after she was crushed under the wheels of first a minivan and then a pickup truck, has shocked the confidence of the nation.
The actor Yuan Hong wrote on his microblog: “After watching the video, I was overcome by a strong sense of national shame and inferiority. With 18 people consecutively ignoring the wounded girl, even if more than 18 ‘Heavenly Palace’ spacecrafts were launched, it would not have repaired this profound shame.”
Yuan is hardly alone. The video of Yueyue’s suffering has inspired over 4 million microblog posts, in and out of China.
Chinese netizens see the fate of China wrapped up in the fate of little Yueyue.
“What was crushed was not only a little girl, but the conscience of today’s society,” wrote a blogger.
Bloggers over and over again come back to the same questions: How did China arrive at this point? What has happened to us?
"What made us so indifferent?” wrote the blogger Ning-Hao. “The little Yueyue incident again shows the loss of the morality of our citizens. Every person of conscience cannot help thinking: what is the root of these problems?
“Is it that the social atmosphere has already been ruined, or that selfishness is causing trouble? What do people lack now? Is the education system, the guidance of public opinion, the legal system, and other aspects fair and reasonable? These are the serious questions placed in front of everyone."
The blogger Shaoye Suanming asked, “How can our glorious country still dare to call itself a ‘civilized land’? Those foreigners enthusiastic about China don’t understand that it has lost its ancient ways. …
“The collapse of morality can’t be blamed on us common folk. … It’s those in power that have the responsibility.”
Shenzhen democracy activist and founder of the Chinese Citizen Watchdog “Guo Yongfeng” told Sound of Hope Radio, “Our overall environment and system has completely distorted the mind of each person. Everyone looks after oneself, including the driver in this incident, who tried to avoid responsibility and protect himself. Strictly speaking, this is the Party culture, the ruling method of the CCP—the totalitarian, deceptive, and violent Party culture.”
Attack on Conscience
Zhang Erping, the spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC), said the Party has throughout its history uprooted the sources of morality in China with campaigns that have targeted religious belief, intellectuals, private property, and any sign of independent thought.
But Zhang sees a direct line between the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) and the recent, vertiginous decline in morality in China.
Zhang pointed out that at the beginning of the persecution the CCP set itself up against the principles of Falun Gong—truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
In a letter by then-paramount leader Jiang Zemin distributed to the members of the Politburo on the night of April 25, 1999, Jiang says, “We must stick to the education of officials and the people with a correct outlook on the world, life, and values. Can the Marxism, materialism, and atheism that our Communist Party members uphold not win the battle with what Falun Gong promotes? This is absolutely ridiculous!”
Three months later Jiang ordered a campaign to “eradicate” Falun Gong. Beginning on July 20, 1999, the enormous machinery of the Chinese regime turned with fury on the estimated 100 million Chinese who believed in Falun Gong. FDIC says that hundreds of thousands are detained at any one time. It can verify the deaths of 3,400 from torture and abuse but estimates the true death toll is in the tens of thousands.
A week after the campaign began, the CCP’s mouthpiece, the Xinhua news agency, published an article that says, “The so-called ‘truthfulness, kindness and tolerance’ principle preached by Li [Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong] has nothing in common with the socialist ethical and cultural progress we are striving to achieve.”
“When the CCP suppresses and criminalizes truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, it suppresses the virtues that maintain society,” Zhang said. “And in suppressing the good, the CCP is promoting what is bad. The persecution of Falun Gong affects everyone, because it destroys the good morals in people’s hearts.”
Fear of Consequences
Some commentators have pointed to another reason for those 18 people to have passed by the injured Yueyue: the fear of the costs of getting involved.
The case of Peng Yue of Nanjing City is famous in China. When an elderly woman fell when trying to board a bus, he stayed behind to help her. After she learned she would need surgery for a broken hip, she sued him for her medical expenses.
The district court in Nanjing ruled that Peng should pay 40 percent of the medical costs, saying that Peng’s behavior was abnormal because he shouldn’t have stayed at the scene and taken the lady to the hospital after her daughter had arrived.
The problem posed by incidents like this has become so pronounced that this September the Ministry of Health issued special guidelines on when to help elderly people who have fallen.
After the guidelines were issued, the twitter-like service Sina Weibo conducted a poll asking if people were now willing to help an elderly person who had fallen. Of the 5,038 who took part, only 20 percent answered “yes.”
In such an atmosphere, good intentions are suspect. Guangzhou Daily reported that people were criticizing the trash scavenger, Chen Xianmei, who had come to Yueyue’s aid, saying she “just wanted to be famous."
Upon hearing of the paper’s report, Chen asked, “Why is it so hard to be a good person?”
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