Death of Wang Yue

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Fatal injury of Wang Yue
Date 13 October 2011 (2011-10-13)
Time 17:30 hours
Location Foshan, Guangdong, People's Republic of China
Filmed by Closed-circuit television
Outcome Death of victim
Deaths Wang Yue
Charges Two vehicle drivers charged with hit and run

Wang Yue (Chinese: ; pinyin: Wáng Yuè), also known as "Yue Yue", was a two-year-old Chinese girl who was run over by two vehicles on the afternoon of 13 October 2011 in a narrow road in Foshan, Guangdong. As she lay bleeding on the road for more than seven minutes, at least 18 passers-by skirted around her body, ignoring her. She was eventually helped by a female rubbish scavenger and sent to a hospital for treatment, but succumbed to her injuries and died eight days later. The closed-circuit television recording of the incident was uploaded onto the Internet, and quickly stirred widespread reaction in China and overseas. Many commentators saw this as indicative of a growing apathy in contemporary Chinese society.[1]

Accident[edit]

Video of Wang being run over by two vehicles.

Wang, who was two years old, wandered away from her home in Foshan while her mother was quickly collecting laundry during a thunderstorm. She walked into a narrow, busy market street. Closed-circuit television cameras captured the child wandering into the street. In only a few moments of her appearance on the screen, Wang is struck by a white van, knocked to the ground and goes under the van's front wheels. The van driver pauses, but does not get out. After a moment, he pulls forward slowly, at which time his rear wheel drives over Wang. The driver moves on. Subsequently, at least 18 people walk past her, and fail to assist her, some pausing to stare before moving on. In that time, another large truck runs over Wang's legs with both front and back tires. She is eventually helped by a female rubbish scavenger, Chen Xianmei (Chinese: 陈贤妹). It is apparent in the video that Wang is crying, holding her head, moving her arms and legs, and bleeding.[2] Wang's parents Wang Chichang and Qu Feifei chose not to blame anyone besides themselves for their daughter's death.[3] Qu said "Granny Chen represents the best of human nature, it's the nicest and most natural side of us."[3]

The drivers of both vehicles were detained by police in the days after the incident.[4]

Trial[edit]

On May 26, 2012, Hu Jun, who was driving the first minivan that ran over Wang, was put on trial in Foshan and charged with the wrongful death of Wang. He pleaded guilty to traffic crimes, but not homicide.[5] On September 6, 2012, Hu was convicted of involuntary homicide and sentenced to 3 12 years in prison. The sentence was lightened because he surrendered himself and had paid part of Wang's medical expenses.[6][7]

Public reaction[edit]

Closed-circuit footage of the incident was broadcast by a local television station, then posted online. The footage sparked worldwide news reports[8] and triggered dozens of editorials and millions of posts on social media sites, the majority criticizing the callousness and cruelty of those who passed Wang Yue without helping her.[9][10][11]

Previously, there have been incidents in China, such as the Peng Yu incident in 2006,[12][13] where Good Samaritans who helped people injured in accidents were accused of having injured the victim themselves. Some commentators have explained that this may have caused people to fear getting in trouble for doing the right thing, thus failing to help.[2]

The Communist Party Chief of the Guangdong province, Wang Yang, called the incident "a wake-up call for everybody."[4] The Sina Weibo website attracted more than 4.5 million posts on the incident within a few days, and launched a "stop apathy" campaign online.[14] There are also reports that some of the 18 people identified in the camera footage have received harassment, threats, and crank calls since the news broke.[4]

In November 2011, the results of a poll by the China Youth Daily, the official Communist party newspaper for youth, showed that 80% of the young people surveyed said they had been following the case closely, and 88% of those polled thought that Wang died because of growing indifference [in China] towards other people. A majority, 71%, also thought that the people who passed the child without helping were afraid of getting into trouble themselves.[15] According to an article by Chen Weihua, deputy editor of the China Daily, China's most widely circulated English-language newspaper, "Various surveys in the past weeks have shown that the majority of the people polled believe our morals have suffered a major setback in the past decade."[16]

Aftermath[edit]

According to China Daily, “At least 10 Party and government departments and organizations in Guangdong, including the province's commission on politics and law, the women's federation, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the Communist Youth League, have started discussions on punishing those who refuse to help people who clearly need it.”[17]

Officials of Guangdong province, along with many lawyers and social workers, also held three days of meetings in the provincial capital of Guangzhou to discuss the case. It was reported that various lawmakers of the province are drafting a "Good Samaritan" law, which would "penalize people who fail to help in a situation of this type and indemnify them from lawsuits if their efforts are in vain."[18] Legal experts and the public are debating the idea ahead of discussions and a legislative push.[10] On 1 August 2013, the nation's first Good Samaritan law was taken into effect in Shenzhen.[19]

While most attention was focused on the passers-by who failed to assist Wang, a British journalist interviewed other shopkeepers in the Foshan hardware market who were just metres away yet failed to respond. He found that the area where the incident occurred comprised mainly internal migrant families (the Wangs had migrated from Shandong seven years earlier). In the writer's view, there was little sense of community and little in common there. One resident noted, "It is quite sad that we don't really talk to each other."[20]

While media outlets reported on the perceived Chinese apathy in the aftermath of Wang Yue's death, another incident occurred in Hangzhou when a Chinese woman attempted suicide by drowning in a lake while local Chinese bystanders gathered at the edge of the lake to watch. After noticing that no one was attempting to rescue the woman, a Uruguayan visitor to China named Maria Fernanda Gomez Arregui swam into the water and saved the woman from drowning.[21] Chinese government officials announced that Maria Fernanda would receive a cash reward of 3000 yuan for her heroic display of "traditional Chinese virtues".[22][23] The rescue achieved a high profile after photographs by Wang Ronggui were presented by the media[24] to contrast with the lack of action of bystanders in the death of Wang Yue,[25] and several other similar deaths that occurred around the same time.[26]

Later incidents in China continue to be compared with the death of Wang Yue. In December 2012, a five-year-old boy named Yan Zhe was "crushed" by a minibus in Zhejiang province. Despite the pleas of the child's mother, other drivers and passers-by refused to help. He was eventually taken to a hospital, but he died on the way.[27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Chinese toddler's death evokes outpouring of grief and guilt". latimes.com. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Landreth, Jonathan (21 October 2011). "Chinese toddler Yue Yue dies in hospital after hit and run shocks a nation". nationalpost.com. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Moore, Malcolm (21 October 2011). "Chinese hit-and-run toddler dies". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Chinese toddler ignored after hit-and-run dies". guardian.co.uk. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hu Jun On Trial Over Chinese Hit And Run After Toddler's Death". huffingtonpost.com. 26 May 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Foshan driver jailed in toddler hit-and-run case". bbc.co.uk. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Light sentence for hit-run of child, 2, in China". nydailynews.com. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Norman, Joshua (October 17, 2011). "After toddler is left to die, China disquieted". CBS News. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ Ling, Chai (October 22, 2011). "Can Video of Yue Yue, a Toddler Left for Dead, Change China?". Fox News. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Chin, Josh (October 22, 2011). "Toddler's Death Stirs Ire in China". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  11. ^ Yip, Martin (21 October 2011). "Anger and debate over hit-and-run toddler Wang Yue". BBC News. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Martinsen, Joel (7 September 2007). "A 45,000-yuan helping hand: common sense, decency, and crowded public transportation". danwei.org. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "Ignored toddler doesn’t tell the whole story about China". The Globe and Mail. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "Chinese toddler dies a week after being hit by cars, ignored by passersby". CNN. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Youths search their souls after Yue Yue's death". China.org.cn. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  16. ^ Chen, Weihua (1 November 2011). "Reclaiming moral ground key to nation". China Daily. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  17. ^ Zheng, Caixiong (20 October 2011). "Law mulled to make aid compulsory". chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  18. ^ Demick, Barbara (21 October 2011). "Chinese toddler's death evokes outpouring of grief and guilt". latimes.com. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  19. ^ Huifeng, He (1 August 2013). "Shenzhen introduces Good Samaritan law". South China Morning Post. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  20. ^ Moore, Malcolm (21 October 2011). "As Chinese hit-and-run girl dies, passersby claim they did not see her". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  21. ^ F_474 (2011-11-02). "Rescuer didn't save a life for fame - People's Daily Online". English.peopledaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  22. ^ Kenneth Tan (2011-11-03). "Hangzhou government to reward laowai heroine RMB3,000 for possessing "traditional Chinese virtues"". Shanghaiist. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  23. ^ "上海日报 - English Window to China News". Shanghai Daily. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  24. ^ "American woman saves a drowning Chinese woman in West Lake". China Whisper. 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  25. ^ "Chinese told they've got to try a little kindness". Smh.com.au. 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  26. ^ "After shocking incidents, Chinese struggle to instill kindness - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  27. ^ "Is there a conscience there?: Chinese boy hit by minibus ignored by passers-by". smh.com.au. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.