Five-Year-Old Yan Zhe Run Over By Bus While Detached Bystanders Stand Idly By

In Tongxiang county, Jiaxing, Zhejiang province recently, a five-year-old boy named Yan Zhe was killed when he wandered in front of a parked bus whose driver did not see him before accelerating. In the video, you see the driver leave his vehicle, realize what he’s done, and then… nothing.

The hysterical mother rushes in and collapses when she discovers what’s happened. The bus driver turns his body from her. She pleads for help — from everyone, anyone – but no one steps forward. She rushes toward a car, but that vehicle backs away, slowly, metaphorical hands in the air as to say, “Not my problem.”

Finally, someone does transport Yan Zhe to the hospital, where he will be pronounced dead.

Chinese media, on cue, have compared this incident to another last year from Foshan, Guangdong province, the infamous, national-conscience-rattling case of Yue Yue, who lay dying on the side of a road while 18 people walked or cycled past. The news anchor in the above asks whether we’ve forgotten her legacy. “Now, can we still see those inner scars? Can we remember the pain and anguish from that time? Granted, it was an unavoidable accident, but that doesn’t make it an acceptable excuse for those who backed away. Child’s parents are responsible, driver is responsible, everyone who witnessed it is responsible.”

Last month, people whispered “Yue Yue” as well when a woman on the highway got run over multiple times by cars that wouldn’t slow down. Are we destined for a continual string of these type of stories? Will “Yue Yue” become empty words, if they’re not already?

And to think, just earlier today we saw two stories of Samaritans at work: in one, a Swedish man dove into cold waters to save a drowning woman; in another, this dog. In both, notice how many people just stand around as if watching a spectacle, while someone’s life is in danger. It’s clear the lessons of the past have yet to be internalized by the public at large.

    7 Responses to “Five-Year-Old Yan Zhe Run Over By Bus While Detached Bystanders Stand Idly By”

    1. Jozzer

      I witnessed a load of people passing by a heap of crap lying in the road as I approached the ‘heap of crap’ I realised it was an old man fallen from his bike lying semi conscious with his tools of the trade scattered about and blood pouring from a gash on his head.

      I stopped, checked the old man over and called the police, who hung up on me twice before calling me back. After I stopped it seemed to give the Chinese some impetuous to get involved and a young man on a scooter stopped and got on his phone. Not long after a young policeman on a motor bike chanced by and stopped too.

      A crowd had formed staring at the groaning old man. Nobody, except me made any effort to comfort the old man while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. After the mobile phone cameras came out I was sickened enough to leave them all to it. The old mans life seemed not to be threatened and there was nothing more I could to do except stay and further reinforce my rather negative views about the general obnoxiousness and callousness of the Chinese people towards strangers.

      I saw about 5 people simply pass the old man by and I think he had been on the ground for a little while before I arrived on the scene judging by the amount of blood that had dribbled down his face. I took a long piss on ‘five thousand years of civilisation’ when I got home.

      • Andao

        Good for you. Despite the futility of trying to teach them compassion, I think it’s worth doing anyway.

        I also think this would have been a good opportunity to grab one of these cell phones they are using to film and chucking it in the nearest river, but that’s just me.

    2. Gay Chevara

      I’m sure many people have their own story to tell about situations like these. I actually think that it’s getting worse not better. People are becoming more afraid to help than the other way round.

      As for that car that reversed out of the way – FUCK YOU!

    3. Reggie Greene / The Logistician

      I’m not quite sure that someone can “teach” someone else “compassion.” We perhaps can acquire a better appreciation of another culture and try to understand the reasons for the differences in expression. Following the deaths of the schoolchildren in collapsed schools a couple of years back during the massive Chinese earthquake, the parents of the kids complained about the government’s “compensation” plan. It was radically different from what we here in the U.S. might do, but that did not make it right or wrong in a global sense. It is potentially problematic to judge how people handle situations based on how we would handle them in our culture.

      I am not applauding the conduct of the passersby, but simply think that we need to be careful in our approach.

      • Andao

        Well, the newscaster above is condemning Chinese people for acting this way, and he’s Chinese himself. I think it’s kind of a universal value. You don’t see many people on Weibo saying “I would have done the same”

        • Monkey King

          “You don’t see many people on Weibo saying “I would have done the same””

          …and yet, there’s an increasing amount of evidence that would lead one to believe that most of the online handwringers would, in fact, have done EXACTLY the same.


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