Elderly Man’s Death Calls Attention to Entitled and Violent Seniors in China

September 15, 2014 Updated: September 19, 2014

Old people in China have become quite aggressive recently in demanding that others on public transportation give up their seats, as a campaign seeking to instill courtesy in the Chinese public appears to have gone badly wrong. A recent fatal incident brought this issue to the attention of the Chinese public.

On a full bus during rush hour in Zhengzhou City of central China’s Henan Province on Sept. 9, an elderly man had a quarrel with a man in his twenties because a young man in his twenties refused to give up his seat, according to the state-run Zhengzhou Evening news.

The outraged older man then slapped the younger man’s face four times.

The young man didn’t fight back, but got off the bus at the next stop, according to eyewitnesses. The elderly soon fell to the floor unconscious.

Passengers called an ambulance, but the elderly man died from a heart attack after 40 minutes spent trying to revive him, the report said.

In recent years as part of the effort to create a “harmonious society,” China has put much effort into promoting respect for the elderly. Recordings play on buses and subways to remind people to give up their seats to the elderly, children, handicapped, and pregnant women.

However, recently there have been frequent reports of elderly people beating passengers for not giving up their seats.

On Sept. 4, a young man on a bus refused to give his seat to an older man, and was beaten up by the older man and four other senior citizens who were with him, in Wuhan of central China’s Hubei Province.

This March, a young woman in her 20s took a bus with her mom in Shenyang City, the capital of northern China’s Liaoning Province. The girl gave her seat to an elderly man in his 70s, but mumbled “Why me? There are so many people on the bus.”

The elderly man, alone with his son and daughter in-law were angry at the girl’s complaint and beat up the girl. They broke the girl’s nose and blood covered her face, according to the Chinese press.

The girl’s mother was also beaten for her attempting to stop them from harming her daughter. A passenger said the son of the elderly man grabbed the mother’s hair and smashed her head into the bus window.

Similar violent cases have often been reported and attracted loud condemnations on the Chinese internet.

“Who says that young people must give seats to the elderly?” wrote netizen “Li Lei.” “Some elderly don’t even appreciate you when you offer them seats. It’s so common now.”

Netizen “Dianshi Gongfangjk1” wrote, “I strongly suggest abolishing the so-called ‘kindhearted special seats’ [for elderly people on the buses]. This effort has spoiled a group of people. Love should be given willingly, not forced.”