Quite a few people have written or tweeted me to ask my opinion about the awful case of the Chinese toddler who was run over not once but twice while many, many passerbys did nothing, just passing her body lying in the street. It’s an awful thing, and watching the video is grueling for anyone, but especially for any parent. The girl, Yueyue (Little Treasure) died.
I haven’t commented publicly because I wanted to be careful about making generalizations beyond yes, I have seen instances where Chinese people will not get in volved in something that is not directly their business.
Lijia Zhang, the author of the great book“Socialism Is Great!” and an acquantaince of mine who had really nice things to sat about Big in China summed up the sad situation perfectly in this essay in the Guardian. The rather brutal headline is “How can I proud of my China if we are a naton of 1.4 bn cold hearts?”
Lijia writes: “It might have been a different story if one of the 18 people had lent Yueyue a hand. None even bothered to call for emergency services. Later, when interviewed by a journalist, one of the passersby, a middle-aged man riding a scooter, said with an uncomfortable smile on his face: “That wasn’t my child. Why should I bother?…
“The fundamental problem, in my view, lies in one word that describes a state of mind: shaoguanxianshi, meaning don’t get involved if it’s not your business. In our culture, there’s a lack of willingness to show compassion to strangers. We are brought up to show kindness to people in our network of guanxi, family and friends and business associates, but not particularly to strangers, especially if such kindness may potentially damage your interest.”
“Instead of complaining about China, a favorite expat pastime, Alan Paul embraced the country with child-like enthusiasm. This readable, human account of his China experience shows how one can be richly rewarded in a supposedly ‘hard posting’ when armed with an open, adventurous mind and the Chinese people’s ‘go-get-it’ spirit.” -Lijia Zhang, author, Socialism Is Great.