Fresh ethics debate in China as people ignore child dying on road

A video of a child being crushed by a minibus and ignored by passers-by has ignited a new bout of soul-searching in China with web users asking whether ethics are slipping amid rapid change.

The footage, which police told state news agency Xinhua is authentic, shows five-year-old Yan Zhe crossing the street alone in front of the parked bus which knocks him over as it pulls away.

Several passers-by walk on while others stand around, and when one woman gesticulating for help rushes over to the driver of an approaching car, it backs away.

It was 10 minutes before another motorist took Yan Zhe to hospital, but the boy died on the way.

The accident in eastern Zhejiang province echoed a similar case last year, when a toddler fatally struck by two vehicles lay on the street while at least 18 people walked past.

“This soundless image again stirs up a huge wave deep in our hearts, questions our innermost being, is there a conscience there?” a news anchor said after the latest incident.

Xinhua said the minibus driver — who did not flee the scene — agreed to pay Yan’s parents €84,000 compensation while they would not press charges.

Users of China’s Twitter-like service Sina Weibo said the boy’s death symbolised deteriorating ethics in the country.

“This society is completely deformed, there are no words to describe the apathy among people, how long can this kind of China go on?” said one.

Another user posted: “The moral fibre of the Chinese people is trash.”

But some focused on the individuals involved. “I feel the guardian bears major responsibility. How can you let a small child play on the street by himself? The driver also kind of lacks humanity,” said one.

An unnamed local government official told Xinhua that the accident differed from last year’s because passers-by “actively helped” and the driver did not leave the scene. In that incident, in Guangdong, two-year-old “Yue Yue” was finally picked up by a rubbish collector who moved her to the kerb.

At the time provincial leader Wang Yang said: “We should look into the ugliness in ourselves with a dagger of conscience and bite the soul-searching bullet.”


The annual Members Exhibition now underway at the Lavit Gallery in Cork features 92 works from 72 artists.The exhibition runs until March 7.Under the hammer: Your guide to upcoming auctions

There’s an oriental theme at the James Adam ‘At Home’ auction in Dublin, says Des O’SullivanAuctions: Sale full of eastern promise

Sales of artisan sourdough bread are on the rise. It's all very well if you're happy to pay for a chewy substantial loaf but does it have any real health benefits? Áilín Quinlan talks to the expertsFlour power: The rise and rise of sourdough bread

Rachel Gotto has suffered more than most, from the death of her brother and husband to her cancer diagnosis and dependency on prescription drugs, writes Lorna SigginsHow Rachel Gotto is finding joy in the small things

More From The Irish Examiner