Street in Chongqing, China (Image courtesy of Helaine Zhao)

Opinion

Opinion: Are the Chinese people heartless?

BBC News reports that in October 2011, a young two-year-old Chinese girl was run over by two vehicles in Guangdong. BBC News reports that for seven minutes, 18 people walked straight around her body, ignoring her as the little girl slowly bled to death. Almost 10 years later on July 27, a Chinese news site,…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/elenacupid/" target="_self">Helaine Zhao</a>

Helaine Zhao

September 7, 2021

BBC News reports that in October 2011, a young two-year-old Chinese girl was run over by two vehicles in Guangdong. BBC News reports that for seven minutes, 18 people walked straight around her body, ignoring her as the little girl slowly bled to death.

Almost 10 years later on July 27, a Chinese news site, Sohu, writes about an old man walking out of a convenience store in China when he suddenly collapsed right at the side of the doorway. In the CCTV footage provided by a different news site, Wang’yi, you can see three people around when he collapsed, but all of them merely glanced at him before continuing on with whatever they were doing. 

For two whole minutes, people walked in and out of the store without any concern for the old man on the ground. The video ended after two minutes, and I truly hope that the video was not complete and that after the video footage ended, a warmhearted passerby chose to help the old man.

However, my heart was still filled with shock, anger and fear after watching that video. Why would nobody help him? Has the Chinese society really become so coldhearted that a person’s life is insignificant when faced with one’s own problems? Are the Chinese people really that heartless?

Recently, I came across another article on Sohu with a very similar storyline, but a very different and tragic ending.

In Guangdong, China, a man with the surname Wu was riding home on his motorcycle when he saw an old man laying on the ground. Seeing no one around, Mr. Wu immediately went over to help and saw that the man was seriously injured, so he sent the old man directly to the hospital, and even generously paid for some of the old man’s medical bills.

However, Mr. Wu would have never thought of what was waiting for him after the old man awoke. Not only did Mr. Wu not receive any appreciation for saving the old man, but the old man accused Mr. Wu of being the person who hit him. 

Mr. Wu could not believe his ears. He had kindheartedly saved the old man, and the old man was not in the least grateful but was now trying to accuse him. Mr. Wu tried to explain himself, but no one believed him. With no CCTV footage of where the accident took place and no passerbys, there was no way Mr. Wu could prove his innocence.

With no way to prove his innocence, Mr. Wu chose to commit suicide to prove that he did not hit the old man.

After Mr. Wu had died, the old man finally revealed the truth. Mr. Wu did not hit him, and he had actually collapsed. The old man had accused Mr. Wu in fear of not being able to pay for the medical bills. After the truth was revealed, his lawyer indicated that the old man did not have to bear any legal responsibility for Mr. Wu’s death.

After the entire situation, many netizens expressed their fear of doing good things or being good Samaritans. From this story, the belief that bad things happen to good people spread across the country, and many could not help but think that the society we live in today is a very scary place.

From the first two stories, it is easy to assume that Chinese society is cold-hearted. Especially in larger cities where everyone is busy with their own lives, no one seems to have the heart or compassion to help others. However, is it really because the Chinese people are cold-hearted and merciless?

The reality is that people are scared. In the earlier century, China suffered severe political and economic instability. Many people lived in poverty and this desperation and fear of being poor have carried on to society today. This desperation results in many people engaging in scamming activities.

In China now, con artists and scammers fill the streets and are always looking for gullible people to scam. Therefore, the possible consequences that may come with being a good person stop people from taking a step forward and lending a helping hand. 

Another possible reason why some people might walk by and not help is that in Chinese culture, it is also considered disrespectful to stick your nose in other peoples’ business or problems. It is second nature to most Chinese people to step away and keep themselves out of other peoples’ affairs.

As humans, it is part of our nature to judge other people, groups, or cultures without truly understanding the entire situation. After hearing the story of the little girl and the old man in the convenience store, I am certain that most would jump to the conclusion that Chinese people are heartless. 

However, without full context, your conclusion may be wrong. Especially with cultures or topics you are not familiar with, it is even more important to refrain from being too quick to judge. 

Remember, there is always another side.