China has been captivated this week by the distressing case of two-year-old Foshan girl Xiao Yueyue (小悦悦), who was coldly ignored by passersby as she lay bleeding in the street after being struck by a delivery van. Video shared widely across social media in China documented the October 13 incident in horrifying detail, including at least 18 people walking past Xiao Yueyue’s body without so much as a glance.
Xiao Yueyue is reportedly in stable but critical condition in a Guangzhou hospital. The implications of the incident are being widely discussed in China’s media, both new and old. According to People’s Daily Online, at least 151,342 microblog posts had been made on the incident by Monday afternoon. The vast majority of these (about 150,742), the site said, were from “ordinary users” (those, in other words, without large numbers of followers). The following is one composite image post made to Sina Microblog today:
[ABOVE: A composite image posted to Sina Microblog, one of China’s leading social media platforms. At top is Chen Xianmei (陈贤妹), who eventually did stop to help the child, Xiao Yueyue, who is pictured in the hospital on the right side of the composite.]
Traditional media have also jumped on the story, even local Party newspapers such as Foshan Daily, which ran a front page headline yesterday reading: “Today, they have shamed the whole of Foshan.” The headline refers to those 18 people who were caught on video walking or driving callously past the seriously injured Xiao Yueyue.
One of the lengthiest reports comes from the official, but also very commercial, Guangzhou Daily. The report quotes a number of experts, including Fudan University sociologist Gu Xiaoming (顾晓明), who said that people had lost their “reverence for life” and felt “indifferent or even cold about life or death” owing to the new complexities of Chinese social life. Faced with a situation like Xiao Yueyue’s, Gu said, many people don’t know how to act: “People will rationalize [the situation] and think, if I try to save her but she dies because I can’t, how will that make me responsible?”
Chen Xianmei (陈贤妹), the woman who eventually did come to Xiao Yueyue’s aid, told Guangzhou Daily that she asked four or five people who had stalls along the street whether they knew whose child this was. According to Chen they all responded, “It’s not mine,” and no one offered help. Chen then shouted in all directions, asking for help or information, and only then did the Xiao Yueyue’s mother come running.
At People’s Daily Online today, columnist Li Hongbing (李泓冰) writes: “Any one of us might become the ‘passerby’ at the side of Xiao Yueyue. Please, stop. Move her out of the center of the road. Or extend a hand of comfort, carrying her away from danger.”
Here are some Chinese news links on this story today:
“By extending a hand, we save ourselves,” Yangcheng Evening News
“Two drivers arrested for running over Xiao Yueyue,” Foshan Radio
“The Xiao Yueyue incident: gathering up the scraps of China’s conscience?,” Nanfang Daily
“Zhang Ming: those passersby who neglected an injured child are no better than animals,” Phoenix Online
“Good-hearted auntie: I did what I should have,” Hebei Youth Daily