A Western man on Line 2 of Shanghai’s Metro fainted in his seat on Aug. 9, causing passengers to dash frantically from the train car, clearing it out within 10 seconds, according to reports. The incident has caused self-reflection among Chinese, who see it as another example of decaying public morals and indifference to those in need.
Metro officials only released surveillance video of the incident recently, causing the issue to explode on the Internet. Video shows a foreign male passenger leaning over a female passenger to his right, before eventually collapsing onto the floor, unconscious.
About 10 passengers around the man immediately leapt from their seats, and the whole train car was quickly evacuated—the man left by himself on the floor.
When the train made its next stop, passengers in the carts in front and behind the fainted man’s also dashed out. A middle aged woman was pushed into a train door, while others stumbled in the commotion.
Some passengers yelled “something has happened!” causing further panic among those who didn’t know it was merely a fainting foreigner.
Metro staff soon arrived, and found the man coming to. He sat back in his seat and continued on his journey.
The significance of the incident, as far as the Chinese who have paid attention to it are concerned, is its apparent demonstration of a declining public morality, and frank indifference to people in need.
Many Chinese people commenting online said they fear being extorted if they help strangers. Such feelings seem to have become common, after a number of high-profile news reports about Good Samaritans being extorted by elderly people who they helped on the streets.
In an extreme case this January, Wu Weiqing, 46, took to the hospital an elderly man who had fallen to the ground. The man’s family, however, then blamed Wu for injuring him, and demanded tens of thousands of yuan for the treatment. Deeply aggrieved, Wu jumped into a pond and drowned himself, in order to prove his innocence.
Other tragedies have been reported. On Feb. 27 this year a 35 year-old woman, Liang Ya, passed out at the exit of a subway station in Shenzhen City of Guangdong Province at 10:30 a.m. Many people simply walked by without offering any help. Eventually, a concerned Westerner reported her condition to subway staff, who called for an ambulance. But Liang died as the ambulance came, 50 minutes after she collapsed.