Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Little Girl Lost: The Chinese Toddler Hit and Run

A kind of heartlessness tends to cloud the image of 21st century China: the country is too caught up with making money, of skirting the moral dimensions of life in its hither-thither rush toward what it imagines as modernity. The case of Wang Yue, a 2-year-old girl, in the city of Foshan, in Guangdong province, seemed to illustrate the situation. Video cameras showed how the toddler, who somehow had gotten away from her mother, was hit first by a van and then, while lying in a pool of blood and ignored by passersby, by another van. Only a local trash picker named Chen Xianmei finally came forward to take the now fatally injured Wang Yue to her mother. Two good things emerged from this parable of urban soullessness: China's online culture was outraged and demanded that the country and its citizens examine their consciences; secondly, everyone recognized Chen's deeds as heroism, even as she said she did only what anyone would have done. In China, it has taken this tragedy to remind people of what everyone should have done.