Yueyue: A Tragedy of 3 Seconds & Flawed Heroism

The little girl who was run over by two vans and ignored by 18 bystanders in Foshan.

Two weeks have passed since a little girl named Yueyue was struck by two vehicles and left to die in Foshan, Guangdong. We know the details: two drivers fled the scene, and numerous passersby ignored a child in pain. Kindness arrived too late in the form of a scrap peddler who pulled her up and went searching for help. Yueyue passed away from systemic organ failure eight days later.

As an outsider, it is far too easy to thumb our noses at this new example of a nasty, immoral Chinese society. The Yueyue tragedy has already encouraged many of my overseas Chinese friends to turn their backs on China. Many of us have a tenuous relationship with the part China plays in our Chineseness, and Yueyue’s case is ‘proof’ that this is an alien world. While proud to be ethnically Chinese, we wonder whether our values and traditions, inherited from forefathers who left China a century ago, have much to do with China’s society today. Friends have rolled their eyes at my decision to come to China to discover my roots; to them, those roots are planted in my great-grandparents’ home in southern Malaysia, not in a country that apparently ignores injured children. “Come home,” someone told me. “We’re afraid you’re going to grow a cold heart the longer you stay there.”

I haven’t jumped onboard the “us Chinese versus them Chinese” train. Though I’ve had unsettling experiences in China, these haven’t been enough for me to condemn this whole nation to an evil, inhumane “them.” There is this thing in the air that feels like ‘cold apathy’ to an outsider, but to the local Chinese is just a sense of ‘can’t make it my business or else.’ I don’t think there’s anything cruel about it. Blame the Cultural Revolution. Blame a Nanjing judge and compensation laws. Blame hopelessness. Blame fear.

You may call me an apologist, though for what, I’m not quite sure. For not wanting to condemn all of China based on this incident? Not wanting to hate Chinese citizens for this culture of fear that I may never understand? Even good people can be wary of stepping in to stop another’s suffering. There’s so much fear here, fear that goes in many directions — don’t want to meddle, don’t want to get in trouble, don’t want to be blamed, don’t want to regret helping — but there’s no desire to be responsible for creating pain and suffering in the first place.

The horror of a three-second decision

As I watched the horrific video of Yueyue in Foshan, my strongest emotions weren’t directed at the many people who rushed past her. To me, those people weren’t evil. They were unkind and unwilling to put another before themselves, but not evil. They hadn’t caused her pain, and their only crime was complete submission to cowardice. Nor did I feel anger at the second van that ran her over. At the steady speed he was going, I assumed he didn’t realize that he’d run over a child.

Instead, the most damning and damaging moment that has stayed with me, the complete horror of it all, are the three seconds when the driver of the first van pauses with Yueyue between his front and rear wheels. He then proceeds to intentionally cause the toddler additional pain and suffering by stepping on the gas.

Those few seconds changed everything. They transformed him from a humane being into a murderous creature. They transformed Yueyue from an injured girl into a crushed mess after the whole weight of the van was slowly applied across her upper torso for the second time. It took three seconds for her to become a mangled body, the back tires of the van seeming to crunch her up and spit her out, leaving behind a devastating trail of blood so noticeable, so slick, even in the grainy CCTV footage. In those three seconds, the incident morphed from an honest mistake into cruel murder.

After watching that, I was too numb to feel anything much for those 18 passersby.

In the shit-storm following the video’s release, rage has been focused on those who did nothing. As stated in this Telegraph article, “It is not the accident itself, but what happens next – or rather does not happen – that has left millions of ordinary Chinese wondering where their country is heading.” But while we’re asking all those worthwhile questions about Good Samaritans, and in some quarters arguing over whether mainland Chinese and overseas Chinese are inherently different, perhaps we shouldn’t lose sight of something else — Yueyue may not have needed to be saved by those 18 passersby if the rear wheels of that first van had never touched her body, if the driver had paused…and kept pausing. Maybe we should be examining the accident itself — what it is that made one van driver cold enough, bold enough, and perhaps scared enough to make a decision that, in three seconds, changed the life of one little girl forever.

Chen Xianmei: A flawed hero

In a story this heartbreaking, we’ve needed a hero to cling to. Chen Xianmei, the scrap peddler who dragged Yueyue off the road, has become that celebrated savior, because she was the only passerby who tried to DO SOMETHING.

However, it feels like a taboo to suggest that she may have helped in the wrong way. Not many commenters have pointed out that she likely did not do Yueyue any good by initially moving her into an upright position.

Chen Xianmei, the scrap peddler who stepped in to help little girl run over by van.

“She can’t sit up on her own!” I wanted to cry as I watched the footage. The video clearly shows Yueyue’s torso flopping over and collapsing when Chen Xianmei pulls her up by the arms and lets go; it’s as if the little girl has been severed in half. Yueyue is then picked up and carried away by her frantic mother. These scenes made me wince. Elsewhere, in a different place and under different circumstances, our hero (and the child’s mother) might not be hailed for saving Yueyue, but rebuked for exacerbating already severe internal injuries.

What a sad situation. We had people unwilling to be Good Samaritans, and a Good Samaritan whose first move was probably not in the child’s best interest, through no fault of her own. Chen Xianmei was absolutely right to do something. But it was heartbreaking to see that the only person who would stop to help, was unable to judge that the child was much too bloodied and injured to be moved in that manner.

In early September, the Health Ministry issued a detailed manual on how to help the elderly if they fall. The document was widely ridiculed online, especially because it was issued at around the same time as another Good Samaritan failure. But one of its recommendations was not to move the injured, which is sound advice however dismissively one may view the manual and other guidelines like it.

There is so much discussion out there about morality. But let’s not only focus on whether to be a Good Samaritan; we have to know how to do so in a way that minimizes injury. A nation of Chinese citizens moving, rolling, and lifting internally bleeding victims can be just as disastrous as standing by and doing nothing. Let’s talk about that, instead of creating these archetypes of demons (the evil 18 Chinese bystanders) and angels (simple, kind-hearted scrap peddler), and nonsense accusing Chen Xianmei of seeking fame. The only criticism of her should be that this kind woman didn’t know a better way to help the little girl.

A different form of this article originally appeared on Shanghai Shiok!

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  • Milessio

    Sofa!

    Leaving Yueyue in the road would just have left her to be run over by another vehicle, so moving her to safety was not so wrong.

    Poor driving is the major problem, not lack of first-aid knowledge.

    • People who say “sofa!” deserve to be sodomized by a pineapple.

    • Joe

      No. Calling an ambulance and standing in the road to block traffic would’ve been the correct response. You *do not* move victims with probable spine injuries. Lack of first aid knowledge is a major problem with Good Samaritans; they can often cause more harm than good by taking inappropriate responses.

      Granted, I haven’t lived in China. I don’t know what emergency medical response times are in that area, nor what it costs. But you learn in day 1 of emergency first aid not to move a spinal injury case unless absolutely necessary.

      • C Lin

        When I was in Undergrad I took an EMT Certification course. On our first day, we learned that it was important to “Secure the Scene”. That would entail making sure that the scene was both safe for you and for the victim. Seeing that YueYue was in the middle of the street, I believe that Chen Xianmei was correct in moving her from the unsafe location. Of course, she had no way of know that Yueyue had been repeatedly run over by multiple vehicles.

        I was taught that if you came across an unconscious victim, to treat them as though they may have a spinal injury. And of course there are better ways of moving someone with a suspected spinal injury than with there arms. However, given the situation, Chen Xianmei did what she could in that moment. No one should be faulting her for that. She saw an injured child, bleeding, whimpering, and with tears in her eyes. All thoughts were probably on helping her and getting her out of harms way.

  • As for the video, I 100% agree with you Christine. Those few seconds were f*cking appalling to see. I honestly have no idea what that guy was thinking. He clearly had a choice between accepting responsibility for an injured, but live toddler and trying to get away with murder.

    I wonder if there’s a time limit to pre-meditated murder? Does thinking about it for a few seconds count?

    Of course, the 18 people who were seen walking by (who knows how many are off-camera) are shocking in their own right, but that initial shock is mind-numbing.

    I lived in china for 5 and 1/2 years and I’ll never return. There are just too many things wrong with it, but apathy and lack of empathy are the worst parts.

    PS. You never answered me before if you’re the same writer as at Cracked. I only ask because your writing style is pretty much the same (compliment).

    • Thanks for the comment, sorry for missing out on your question — no, I’ve never written for Cracked!

  • I think Hong Kong’s Stephen Shiu (蕭若元) provides a really good answer. Aside from the NanJing cases, there’s also an issue with the Chinese system of law itself. In the NanJing case, the only reason why that lady would have put up a lawsuit against the person that helped her, is because there are no laws against frivolous lawsuits. She has nothing to lose.

    Then, there’s an issue with the way insurance is paid out. The guy that drove the van actually turned himself in. He said if the girl lives, he’ll pay a higher amount, but if she dies, he’d pay a lower amount (probably barely enough to cover hospital and funeral expenses).

    As far as the people that just walked through. It’s easy to blame them. We would like to think “Good Samaritan Laws” would be a good fix, but they aren’t. I remember this one time, I was in a car during rush hour with military recruiter behind the wheel, and next thing you know, we see a guy on a motorcycle get knocked over by a red car making a lane change (without a turn signal). After the initial shock, he immediately said, “Oh hell no! I’m not sticking around for this $#|+!” Changed lanes as soon as possible, and drove on. Luckily, the motorcyclist got back up, and confronted the person who knocked them over, and other people had stopped to help. So this is more than the “bystander effect” at play, and it isn’t just a “Chinese” thing.

    You are right in that it is cowardice. Fear of death, and the shear image of it changes people. Why else would people who come back from war, and have seen their buddies die in front of them change? It’s easy for everyone to see a crappy image running at 15-frames-per-second of 18 people walking by in disgust. However, I have to really ask, if it came down to it, how many people would really help [Chinese or otherwise] if they knew there were no cameras to judge them?

  • kodabar

    It would be fair to say that Chen Xianmei didn’t do the best thing rather than she didn’t do the right thing. We cannot expect everyone to have first aid training. Where do you think a scrap peddler is going to get the money for that? Even those who know what to do in the safety of a classroom can freeze or make poor decisions in the shock of a real incident.

    I worry that the author is wringing another article out of an already much-examined story. Chen Xianmei didn’t do the best thing possible and that may have effected the outcome, but we can’t know if that caused any harm. We weren’t there. We did nothing.

    • The author is wringing an article out of an already much-examined incident because she is frustrated with how it has been discussed and has been waiting for someone else to point out that much of the news concerning Chen Xianmei is extreme/ridiculous — she’s either worshipped as a saint or denounced as a fame seeker. Why can’t we simply admire her for daring to help as well as be objectively critical of the way she did?

      What I worry about are people who may think that being a Good Samaritan means you must move a battered victim around. Sometimes you just need to — she was right to move Yueyue to relative safety. But the moment I’m focusing on is when she pulled the child upright and let go. Why is it taboo to suggest this isn’t a great example to follow?

  • Dadanada

    There are undoubtedly millions of mainland Chinese who would never have let that accident happen – but they aren’t driving trucks. They are mothers. Then there are millions more, mothers among them, who would just as soon run you over (and maybe, if they had to, throw some money out the window of their A4) and drive on. I’ve had them glaring at me as I walk through the crosswalk in Beijing, hating me for making them take their foot off the gas.

    Just this past week there was the truck driver (somewhere in China) who backed over a 3 year old who ran up to play in the sand while they loaded the truck. The guy knew the kid was back there somewhere, but it wasn’t his problem to worry about that. Even after killing the kid in front of witnesses he figured he could just drive away.

    In fact this must be happening all the time. Usually no video to document it. If you do get caught, just pay some pittance compensation and go on!

    My ex-wife, a mainland Chinese, once said to me “I don’t have to think about that person, he is not my family” – and it really brought home to me the very limited notion of morality promoted by Confucian ethics – family and sovereign, the rest is gray, easily (and justly in their view) ignored.

    So its not just fear. Fear makes you run your back tires over the kid and drive on. And fear rules those who would like to care, but dare not. But its not fear that caused the accident in the first place. Its “not my problem” indifference. Kids are playing in the street? Its not my problem, and if I do run one over, its not my fault.

    Side note: The irony of socialism in China – the society proclaims itself socialist when there are almost no institutions or programs that are concretely socialist in nature, and very little in the people’s hearts and minds that is socialist (as opposed to nationalist) – is bizarrely matched by the ironic insistence in the US (where I”m living now) that socialism doesn’t exist here and is evil – in spite of a half-way functioning social safety net, which conservatives are systematically trying to destroy. The upper classes of the US are envious of China.

  • D Summ

    Finally someone expresses what I have been too wrenched with sadness and horror to do myself. Yes, I agree, the driver, had he only STOPPED MOVING THE GADDAMMED van, perhaps this poor mother would not have to say goodbye to her baby. I have been methodically going over the video in my head almost every minute that I don’t give myself something else to think about. I hate it, but I am assuming that this is how my heart and soul are trying to cope with this atrocity. I keep thinking, if only he hadn’t run his rear-wheel vehicle over her again, she may have survived. But he chose to run, and in that choice, she lost all hope of surviving. His rear tire, and the engine that drives it, slips over and pinches the baby’s middle into oblivion. I don’t think Chen could have known what happened to the toddler. I’m thinking she thought the baby was hurt but just needed someone to sit her up and dry her tears. You can tell by her paniced way of laying the baby back down that she realized the horror of the child’s injuries. And the mother, she could not have known what happened to the baby, either. Sadly, I think any mother would instinctively rush to her child and scoop her into her arms. No, the blame lies solely with the driver. He hit her, he ran her over, and then in his selfishness, he murdered her.

  • What if the first driver never saw the child in the first place?

    http://onforb.es/tTvHIW

    Here’s a good way to test your own attention:

    http://bit.ly/slqJNL

    • Dadanada

      The driver confessed to knowing he hit the girl.

      • When? Please share a link. AFAIK, he claims he did not see the girl.

  • Seems a bit rich to say Chen Xianmei is a flawed hero. Without a doubt, the little girl sustained a death-crushing blow once the truck ran over her. The criticism toward Ms Chen’s approach to moving the child toward the curb should be geared toward the driver and how to remedy the growing problem of automobile crimes. Ms Chen did what she could or thought was reasonable, and you conveniently leave out that she tried to find the girl’s parents in the market thereafter, another right thing to do.

    Considering the cell phone penetration in China (at 71.0%, undoubtedly higher in urban areas like Foshan), I would venture to say that all of these individuals who passed by the girl had the opportunity to call emergency services, chose NOT to. This is a sad fact to note. Taking into account the very insular nature of Chinese society (people tend to their own interests and protect themselves and their families before others) and the lack of community (the rapid industrialization that has taken millions of people, from small tight-knit villages to live like anonymous sardines in the cities), it’s not surprising.

    The Chinese are right to be doing some soul searching.

  • C Lin

    I too still have that video running through my head. I believe whole heartedly that the first truck driver should be charged with murder and not manslaughter. Unfortunately, accident such as these do happen. Children just do not have the where with all to avoid putting themselves in these dangerous situations. But, to know that you have hit a child and run over her again!? Murder.

    I think that the author’s criticism of Chen Xianmei is misguided. She had no way of knowing the extent of the child’s injury. I believe when she moved the child, she became fully aware that they were extremely severe. I would assume that she most likely thought that the child would be safer off of the middle of the street. Even a basic trained first responder in the U.S. is taught to first remove themselves and the victim of harms way- paramedic and EMT’s are also taught this. Of course there are ways of doing this that may minimize damage to the victim, but come one, really? Chen Xianmei was acting on what is universally known as Compassion. I have asked myself over and over again how all of those people walked could walk past a dying child and not do something to help alleviate her pain? Where was their compassion? Where was their humanity?
    I hope that what happened to YueYue has touched people’s hearts and minds. I hope that people realize that we are all connected in this world. When one person suffers, we all suffer. As cliche as it sounds. This Cold Apathy, which is not just in China, can only lead to the beginning of the end.

    • Tearful

      I live in Canada and have been an emotional wreck since I made the huge mistake of viewing the footage of that precious baby girl. I still can not believe what I watched. I can not believe the driver knowingly ran over her again. To a comment about Yue Yue possibly surviving had he not ran over her again, I maybe (to help myself deal) concluded after hearing she was pronounced brain dead almost immediately assumed that the overall outcome would not have been much different as I believe that after the initial hit and fall that the head injury must have been tremendous. I was oddly amazed that with all the news reports and posts there was never any mention regarding internal damage as there must have been a large amount of damage to her entire small and fragile body. There was ever only mention that she was clinically brain dead.

      As a parent of two small children my heart goes out to her poor parents and what they have had to and have to deal with and the horror for them to watch that video.
      I hope they can go on for the sake of their son.

      I have to say that unfortunately my view of chinese/asian people have changed and I find myself feeling nauseous just to see a chinese person pass me on the street. I keep fighting to feel differently.
      As a human being I can not even begin to comprehend how anyone could bypass an obviously severely injured baby girl. Again, it makes me nauseous to think that those people walked by without hesitation and from the video some didnt even have an expression on their face. It breaks my heart to think of the many off camera people that potentially witnessed the entire thing and didnt go to the girls aid.

      I only hope that Yueyue’s death is not in vain and that a great amount of good will come from it.

      I have been almost incapable of thinking about anything else and have spent the past two weeks in tears. I needed to write this today.

      • sharon

        I also winced as Chen moved the child, and also when the childs mother pulled her by the arms, soon realising something was very very wrong.

        Chen thought the child had simply fallen over, and had a nose bleed. She did not know about the hit and run. Had the driver raised the alarm like you said, she wouldnt be the unknown child with unknown injuries. I think if even Chen knew the injuries she would not have picked up the child like she did. As we all know, when a child has a small injury, we sit them up or stand them up to brush off the shock of the incident.

        The man who saw the incident and walked on by, not a step out of place, not a shock to be seen….chillingly did not call emergency services or try alerting the childs parents, or even the driver.

        The mother came out angry her child had got out the house, she pulled her up by her arms before realising she was very injured. All of the above people have contributed to the childs death, either by evil (the driver & passer by) and good intentions (chen and her mother)

        What upset me the most, was that of all of Yueyues brain that died off, the last to go was her pain reflex. My heart bleeds for this child, I truelly hope she wasnt able to feel those moments on the road. I really do.

        I think the driver should have his life taken away, to show the chinese community that this sort of behaviour WILL NOT be tolerated. I would most certainly make an example of this heartless man.

        I believe there are deep problems with the chinese community, however I do believe that people still know right and wrong no matter where they are from. Those people who walked past showed no worry, care or compassion. No shock, nothing. They should have known it was wrong?

        I am calling to the chinese government to charge those with no empathy and imprission them. This seems to be the only way to shock these people into having responsibility for those around them.

        Please read my petition, which is to create a law giving the public responsibility for injured and vulnerable people.

        http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/wangyue

        Yueyue is not the first person to be ignored and left to die, she is just the first to be known worldwide. I hope together, the people who know whats right, can chance the world for the better.

  • Thank you everyone for your heartfelt comments.

    I hope readers don’t think that I am a Chen Xianmei hater. I was as moved as all of you when she stopped and actually paid attention to the little girl. I was also tearing up at all the news celebrating her as a simple, kindhearted, compassionate soul.

    But I also don’t see why we can’t use this example to talk about what to do in similar circumstances. Yes, we need to instill a willingness to be Good Samaritans. But seeing how Yueyue died from massive internal injuries and organ failure, is it so ludicrous to discuss how to be one as well? I feel like many people who are ready and willing to act on their compassion have no idea how to do so, so your suggestions are useful. Thank you Joe, C Lin, and others for your input thus far.

  • alpha

    I think, Mrs Chen did her best helping Yue Yue. I am sure she had no knowledge on how to handle an injured person, besides I saw her interview and she mentioned that the child was heavy, sometimes when a person works hard using both hands, I believed Mrs Chen is a hardworking woman and probably sustained many injuries to her hands more likely that she knew an unconcious bleeding child would indeed be so heavy to lift by grabbing the body, she did her best to grab Yueyue’s hand and pull her to safety. Mrs Chen even went to the hospital to give the money (reward from the people) to the parents of Yueyue and encouraged people to stop giving her money but give them all to Yueyue’s parents. She’s really a good person.

    • I completely agree with you that she’s a good person. Thanks for pointing out how heavy an injured person is, even a child.

  • Pingback: Good Samaritans in China: A bystander’s perspective « The Woodsworth Howl()

  • revolting brain

    All I know is that you’re screwed if you’re an overseas Chinese and find yourself in a life-threatening emergency situation in the PROC. People won’t help you, and it’s perhaps better that nobody does.

    What happens if you are a non-asian foreigner in a life-threatening emergency situation in the PROC?

    • Interesting question.

      One of my friends (Chinese male, late twenties) actually said, “Helping a laowai is no problem, they won’t sue you.”

  • TAKE5

    My complaint is with the driver that ran the child over and twice then left, but also the parents. How could they not keep an eye on their two year old they claim to love so much? They onw a store on that street and knew the traffic conditions. They passers bye did not want to get involve …i get that but the parents need to be held accountable.

  • dim mak

    Oh c’mon, old ayi probably didn’t know any better. Not everyone in developing countries have the common sense not to move an injured victim, she probably didn’t think the girl was gonna go ragdoll on her. Besides, have you guys ever tried standing in the road and obstructing traffic in China? You’d get in a fight within 10 mins. Doesn’t matter what the reason is. Not even exaggerating.

    The “cold heart” thing has little to do with being Chinese. Doesn’t mean it’s not true, but China is a huge place where tons of people must compete for everything. Coupled with the modern rush for wealth, people are gonna act like indifferent, self-centered assholes. When China’s per capita GDP reaches 1st world levels, then the softheaded moralism will pervade society.

  • DanO

    First of all – bravo Christine, again I’m so drawn by your articulate and deeply driven words. You really can convey a story with such a personal touch and emotion. Next, I feel that China is still an incredibly archaic and complicated legislative and political system – progressive in its economic policy but still old and even backwards in its social and political contexts. The government installs rule under the Confucian principles yet they have cultivated this sort of “backwardness” and confusion as morality is always ALWAYS on the precipice when it comes to situations like these. It’s not right what that driver did – in fact, this is murder. This SHOULDN’T have happened but it did; but why Nietzens are so pissed off is because they grew up with these ideas of the “common good” and “morality” – a collectiveness and selflessness that Westerners have admired for centuries; yet passerbys, their fellow man and woman, ignored little YueYue and “let her die.”

    It wasn’t their fault – I completely agree, and a tragedy that could have only been prevented by the murderer himself. But it’s the actions of those who saw the helpless girl and decided to carry on about their own business that enraged and angered the Chinese community.

    Is it fear? Or is the Chinese sentiment changing –that its traditional model of selflessness and caring for one another is dying out as China greets the West with open arms, embracing self-this and self-that.

    And if it is fear, than can we blame the Chinese government for instilling a false moral code of conduct that is to perish as its society becomes more individualistic? Ahhh – you make me think Christine, and thus once again your article is just so much fun to digest :)

  • JOE

    I agree with you 100 %. Your reactions and feelings exactly match what I felt. My entire anger is directed on the first driver. I have no words to express the horror and anger that I feel towards him. When the second wheel passes over the child’s body, the child is just crushed under the weight of the wheels just like a log, stone or speed breaker. I feel that the driver changed into a monster at that instant. No human would be capable of this.
    It should no longer be considered an accident but deliberate cold blooded murder, and punished for murder.

  • sharon

    I also winced as Chen moved the child, and also when the childs mother pulled her by the arms, soon realising something was very very wrong.

    Chen thought the child had simply fallen over, and had a nose bleed. She did not know about the hit and run. Had the driver raised the alarm like you said, she wouldnt be the unknown child with unknown injuries.

    The man who saw the incident and walked on by, not a step out of place, not a shock to be seen….chillingly did not call emergency services or try alerting the childs parents, or even the driver.

    The mother came out angry her child had got out the house, she pulled her up by her arms before realising she was very injured. All of the above people have contributed to the childs death, either by evil (the driver & passer by) and good intentions (chen and her mother)

    What upset me the most, was that of all of Yueyues brain that died off, the last to go was her pain reflex. My heart bleeds for this child, I truelly hope she wasnt able to feel those moments on the road. I really do.

  • Tony

    Chinese value has always nurtured self-sustain and avoidance of conflicts for the sake of harmony. It is the nature of the beast. We live in harmony with each other, we value patience, we value our own family… What we can learn from the Western ideology is to expand our world – figurative and physical. We must include in our value to exert ourselves into the community. Get involved.

  • Hey Christine
    This was a nice article, albeit about a really revolting tragedy.
    I think the drivers deserve most of the blame, after all they drove over and killed the girl, but those passers-by were also responsible. I also can’t understand how so many people would walk by and not, at the very least, call the authorities or alert somebody else to do so.
    Keep up the good writing and don’t be discouraged from your empathy and understanding about China. As you said, individual tragedies like this should not make us condemn all of China.

    • Hi Hilton, thanks for commenting. I’m trying not to be too extreme in any direction, though these are issues that polarize people. I don’t want to be a China hater, nor a China apologist, as I have been called because of this article. I’m just living here, trying to make the best of it, trying to understand the circumstances that make life in China the way it is. Thanks again for reading.

    • Blars

      I mthink there are many here that don’t realise that the guys passing by probably didn’t know the poor girl was injured. I have been to many places in China, rich and poor and Chinese kids are playing in the streets, lying in the streets and you can’t possibly know if there is anything wrong coz it’s commonplace, it’s part of the environment that people are used to. I’m not sure I would have known or even noticed the girl. I’m sure some of you live in Shanghai or any other city and daily see people standing, sitting and lying on the ground. Do you walk over every time to check so that they are ok? Wouldn’t think so. It’s easy to moralise when you weren’t there. In fact, her mother who should know the girl best didn’t know the girl was injured until she touched her. There is only 1 person to blame here and that is the driver, no one else.

  • Pat

    I’m going to start being “proud” of being ethnically white, just to spite idiots like you. Are you proud of being heterosexual? How about being proud of not being black? You’re walking a thin line when you say crap like that.

  • Leo

    ‘Chinese people ain’t got no feelings!’
    Yeah they’re made of rubber!

    How hard is it to call an ambulance and flee from the scene, no commitment necessary?

  • Django

    Any criticism aimed at Chen Xianmei is just wrong. Yue Yue was doomed once the driver decided to back up. Any damage Chen Xianmei “may” have caused would be minimal after what Yue Yue went through. I don’t know how you can criticize her, especially in light of her actions after she became famous. This is a woman with a good heart and people should be proud of what she has done.

  • Habiba

    i can,t understand anybody will just walk past this tragedy in normal society we will help dog here we talking of little girl wake up Chinese heartless people as this is shame China … it make me seek to see video how how you could just walk past… and watch this.. how you could sleep at night????? remember what you see and do nothing..shame on you

  • Jeremy

    This whole event is disgusting and almost beyond words.

    Yes, this post makes a point that maybe Yueyue should not have been moved to avoid further injury but is that REALLY the point? Is that REALLY what matters? In the larger scope of things, looking at the situation as a whole that is probably the factor to be least concerned with. To try and somehow find fault with the one person who tried to help in probably one of the most horrible things I’ve ever encountered as “news” is completely and utterly low. Is it really that necessary to try and find fault with the one person who tried to show some sort of compassion?

    There used to be a time when people knew when to say when.

    In some situations there is a grey area or a middle ground, but not this one. I can’t believe how many people these days or try to explain away something like this. It is BLACK AND WHITE.

    You either are a disgusting excuse for a human being who doesn’t care about other people and only yourself and what matters to you in your skewed perception of reality, or you are somebody who cares enough to consider others and walk through this world with some sort of values based on goodness and the willingness to live in peace. There is no grey area and no justifying this time. This really should be seen as one of the lowest points of humanity.

    Each and every adult who walked by this helpless child bleeding and crying IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET and went about their day as if whatever they were doing is more important is a worthless human being. Yea, it may sound extreme to say something or pass such judgement but that is the thoughts of somebody who has good values. A person with values based on goodness and compassion and regard for life would not walk by a girl who is bleeding and crying and obviously injured in the middle of a road – left for dead. A person with values would not stand for this to ever occur again and condone others who would simply ignore a dying girl. To say otherwise and try to justify the fact that so many people could ignore and walk by a suffering human being and “have their reasons” means you are trying to justify your lack of values in this world.

    Bystander effect. Ha. It is called not caring enough to do something and you don’t need a degree or a clinical study to decipher that. There has never been a time in my life when I’m put in situations like this where I do not try to help. Why? Because I have values. People with values take action. The rest just pretend to have values or don’t have them at all.

    There are people who will look at something like this and try to find reasons. Why did this happen? Why did they walk by? They will debate and argue with others and come to some sort of conclusion. These are the people who have lost their humanity and go through this world not really living, just a victim of life happening to them. Then there are the people who will look at this and be outraged and without the blink of an eye will recognize that there is no reason that this should ever have occurred because it was preventable.

    There is no reason that so many adults should have walked by a girl dying in the middle of the street. Who cares what they were doing. I am willing to bet that no matter what it was, or where they were going, it was not as important. But that’s just me, a person with values. To ME, no matter what they were doing it could not be more important than helping a suffering child who is dying in the middle of the street. Maybe to those people who walked by without missing a beat, getting to the store was more important. Maybe to those people, getting home in time to watch a show or clocking in to work on time was more important. Maybe not potentially getting sued or blamed was more important. Not to me.

    Not to me.

    This is not only a disgrace to China, but a disgrace to the world. Why? Because after reading this piece of news people sipped their Starbucks coffee or milk teas and turned the page. Clicked the next link. News websites and blogs had their story for the day, got the clicks they needed to survive and thrive, and that may have been all this girl Yueyue’s death was good for in the end.

  • xxoxx

    surprising no one pointed finger at little girl’s parent, particularly her mum. why have she left her little girl unattended (especially when there are moving vehicle along the small road?

    Heroism? or rather ignorance? by moving the little girl, she could have inflicted more injury and running into risk of being pull into the blame game (lucky for her this time, maybe not on the next)

    she should have left her untouched, placed some obstacles to block oncoming vehicle from running into little girl again while she go look for help or call the ambulance

  • As a westerner living in Asia, I see this type of thing often. Where, in the west, it’s drummed into our heads that you don’t move someone who’s injured, in many areas of Asia it just seems as though people drag those who are injured around, often making things far far worse.

    Here in Thailand, I always say if there’s a road accident, please get my western friends to get me to a hospital as most Thais I know would think nothing of slinging me in the back of a pick-up truck and driving me to the hospital.

    I really don’t get it.

  • Christian has written a balanced opinion.

    It is easy to angrily decry the whole society for one callous act by one person.

    The USA bombed and invaded Iraq and killed 1 million Iraqis in the process- the very people they wanted to liberate from the tyranny of Saddan Hussein. (Saddam killed less). Most of us in the west were kept ignorant of this fact because the news was and still is deliberately suppressed. And Hilary Clinton is stillswaggering around drunk with imperialist bravado!

    Yet we must note that the traffic everywhere in China is chaotic. This unfortunately reflects certain realities.

    When you are in command, before you let loose the “beast” you must train it with the basic highway code and good road manners/courtesies etc.

    It seems drivers in general seem to just jump in a vehicle and start driving in ignorance of the highway code which no doubt exists in China.

    After seeing many accident videos in the internet one cannot help being horrified at the way the traffic behaves in China.

    Sorry don’t mean to be harsh but that is what appears to be the reality!

    It is a shame that someone has to die to bring home some lessons.

    Drivers must take care on the road respect and look out for pedestrains and mothers should not allow babies to wander on the busy streets.

    The lack of any reaction by passers-by is also a criticism of Chinese society which has thrown up many people who do not care for their fellow men. Yet for 60 years the government tried to teach people to care for each other. Is that not right?

    They should be reminded that millions of Chinese gave their lives in the Great Chinese Revolution from 1900s to 1949 to liberate China from just these type of lousy inhumane attitudes!

    This is not an acceptable Chinese characteristic.

    But you don’t have to look far to find other similar examples. There are so many Chinese capitalists who have stolen peasant land to enrich themselves and the whole “back to before 1949” “me first” attitudes are coming out of the bottle now!

    An incident like the death of a baby can spark off a prairie fire of self-examination. When this is happening the Chinese must take note of which road they are travelling on!

  • Jiri

    I only saw what happened to you, little Youyou, few days ago, and feel deeply sorry for you and for the way you were deprived of your right to grow up and live your life. I largely agree with the author that, in addition to the 18 people who did not care to help you, little Youyou, focus should rest with the driver. No doubt he knew what happened and intentionally drove over you, the poor little girl, a second time with the rear wheel. I am sure life will not treat the driver well once he leaves prison, and I wish him no good. It may be that you would have survived had you been immediatelly helped before being run over a second time with the rear wheel. Rest in peace, little Youyou.

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