Everyone seems to know who Wang Yue (王悦) is, or rather, was. The two-year old girl from Foshan, Guangdong Province, has become world-famous for having been run over by a van, whose driver reportedly crushed her twice – according to other reports, two vans were involved. Closed circuit camera recordings showed some 18 people walking past Wang Yue without trying to save her.
Now there is “soul-searching” across China, according to media coverage – and there seems to be a “search for the Chinese soul” among the international media, too – with the happy expectation that there won’t be much of a soul to be found in China, it seems. Even Eric Fish, a regular contributor to China’s official mouthpiece Global Times, and a “devout atheist”, wants the Chinese to come to Jesus. OK – that’s a misquote. This is what he writes:
I’m a devout atheist and tend to think dogmatic religion plays a largely negative role in society, but I can’t count the number of times in China I’ve shaken my head and wished more people believed in hell.
Contrary to Eric Fish’s blog, mine is powered by cold-war motivations, and I will therefore – probably – not be suspected to be a China apologist – I’m therefore confidently saying this:
There definitely is a “moral vacuum” in China. There are “moral vacuums” in other countries, too. In Germany, there have been several cases in recent years when people were abused or beaten up at underground stations. In one case, a twenty-three year-old who tried to escape ran into a car and died on the spot. Most of these cases happened and happen in public, here in central Europe. In most cases, few or no people seemed to be prepared to even take note.
Many U.S. states and Canadian provinces have introduced Good Samaritan Laws to prevent
a rescuer who has voluntarily helped a victim in distress from being successfully sued for ‘wrongdoing’.
One may guess that some episodes, rather unflattering for individuals or society, preceded the enactments of these and similar laws.
Western reporting of Wang Yue’s accident and death is overblown, in my view. The Chinese public has good reasons to ask themselves questions, and legislation that would make aid compulsory might be a good first step – provided that people don’t need to fear lawsuits for “wrongdoing” while trying to help there, either. A law that punishes people who get involved, while police, bars, or judges continue to suspect a helper to actually have caused the accident (“why else would he try to help?”) would only make things worse. Before people who try to help can do so on a reasonably sound legal basis, you will never find out how much or little “moral” is actually there.
I seem to perceive an undertone in much of the international coverage – stuff that amounts to what MyLaowai has uttered with his usual candidness:
Is there anyone in the world who believes for a single second that this doesn’t happen every day in China? If so, you are a touch naive, my friend. This is how it works: Some baby / old geezer / idiot [delete as appropriate] wanders out into a street / highway / service lane. Truck / car / taxi runs them over. Said vehicle usually drives off, with the driver not being aware of the fact the the bump in the road was made of meat because he, too, is a fucking retard like all his shit-for-brains cuntrymen, but on the off-chance that the driver does know what happened, said vehicle will stop, reverse over the now-much-easier-to-hit target in order to make sure of the job, before then driving off. After all, a dead person is cheaper to pay out for than an injured one if you are ever caught, which you won’t be, because nobody actually gives a damn about anyone else. Home of civilisation my arse.
In my view, MyLaowai has it wrong on several counts this time, but especially when he believes that the global public were “unaware” of what happens in China on a daily basis, or acting as if they were unaware. Quite the contrary. It’s what everyone had “suspected”, anyway. The news story would have had much less “potential” if it had happened in Vietnam – but if even the godless Chinese public does some “soul-searching”, it confirms foreign prejudice most handily. The good news is that all the numb passers-by were Chinese.
When it comes to bigotry, it’s hard to tell who’s doing better – the Chinese or the foreign media. I have heard way too many western business people showing off with their “guanxi” in China, with having had dinner with some big local or national cadres, and having eaten the brain out of the skull of a not-quite-dead monkey. One such case was actually documented by Der Spiegel, in 2007 – the man, a German investor, thought of himself as a man who knew China, until his technology was ripped off. At that moment, Chinese behavior was deemed “immoral”. (Monkeys don’t count.)
China probably has a tradition which isn’t helpful. It has a political system which is deeply immoral. But that topic won’t make it into our newspapers. Our own relationship with China’s despots are too intimate to identify it as an issue.
Rather than addressing China’s moral issues, we should address our own, first of all – in our cozy relations with totalitarian governments, and issues within our own societies.
» A Fly-Head-Sized Benefit, January 8, 2010
Updates / Related
» … und ging vorüber, Sinica, Oct 25, 2011