Where’s the humanity?
|February 11, 2012||Posted by James Harle under international|
Two-year-old Wang Yue died on October 21st last year. The toddler wandered out of a market, and CCTV footage shows her being struck by a van, then subsequently run over by a second van, all while a succession of 18 passers-by ignore her. The event sparked controversy worldwide as people looked at China and asked: where is the humanity?
A week later, a young boy was run over by a lorry driver in Luzhou, western China. The lorry driver stopped, and proceeded to reverse over the child, in order to avoid paying his medical bills by killing him outright. Some people have claimed that Wang Yue’s death was equally precipitated by financial motives: that the passers-by were, in some cases, afraid to help her in case they became liable to incur medical bills in the process.
These stories are very hard to process from a western perspective and make one wonder whether the culture gap between east and west is not in fact closing, but widening. People have been quick to see those 18 passers-by and the lorry driver as somehow ‘diseased’; suffering from a lack of compassion. I would suggest however that this is not the disease, but rather the symptom.
The Chinese government has been increasingly defensive, uncommunicative and aggressive in its international affairs over the last few years. Censorship, not only of Google but of news items and the activity of the government itself, has been rife, and the kind of human rights infringements we’ve seen in Tibet (more properly known today as “the autonomous region”) have clearly been detrimental to the country’s record.
The point is, the disease of the government embodies itself in the actions of the people. The 18 can’t be blamed for their unfathomable actions – the very fact that they are unfathomable is evidence enough that this tragedy should be laid at the feet of a warping social context. China’s government has been trading truth for prosperity and compassion for security for years. Why should we expect the people of China to act any differently?
The west owes vast debts to China and I wouldn’t be the first to suggest that the blind eye the country has been receiving is the product of this debt. In ignoring China’s behaviour, the west becomes complicit in exactly the same way as the 18 people who passed by Wang Yue; we are turning a blind eye because we are afraid to pay the price of compassion.