Police: Youth in Bus Seat Dispute Liable for Old Man’s Death

Paramedics attempt to save an elderly man who suddenly died after an argument with a youth on a bus over a seat.
Paramedics attempt to save the elderly man who suddenly collapsed on a public bus after an argument with a young man over a bus seat.
Paramedics attempt to save the elderly man who suddenly collapsed on a public bus after an argument with a young man over a bus seat.

The two most-discussed articles on Chinese web portal NetEase currently are both about the story we translated a few days ago about an elderly man who suddenly died after an argument with a young man who did not give up his seat for him on a public bus. Below is one of the articles that relates new developments and information…

From NetEase:

Youth Who Had Conflict With Elderly Person Over Giving Up Bus Seat Found

“The elderly person suddenly collapsed, and never came to again”

Over 50 elderly persons raised signs at public bus stops exhorting:

“Young people have a lot of pressure, please give them your seats if you can”

On September 9th, a nearly 70-year-old elderly person had an argument and physical altercation with a young man over the giving up of a seat on a public bus, after which the elderly person collapsed never to come to again. Just what exactly happened at the time? This paper’s recent reporting attracted attention from all walks of life, with hopes that the young man involved and eyewitness passengers would cooperate with the police to uncover the truth of what happened. Late night on the 10th, the young man turned up.

Yesterday morning, around 50 elderly volunteers of the Sunset Red Volunteer Group appeared at public bus stops to advocate: Please give up your seats for young people if you can, “because young people these days have too much pressure at work and in their lives, are too tired, so let’s give them a bit of time [on the bus] to rest!” Netizens also heatedly debated whether or not young people should give up their seats for the elderly, handicapped, or pregnant. This paper conducted an investigation into the giving up of seats on eight public buses. Text/photos: Zhengzhou Evening News chief reporter Xu Fuying


Young man involved found

Yesterday at 4pm, this reporter learned from the the Jianshe Road Public Security Sub-Bureau Criminal Investigation Unit that the young man who clashed with the elderly person has been found.

“Multiple police officers without rest studied surveillance footage and ultimately obtained a clear photo of the young person and by following his direction of movement, eventually found him at his school at 10pm on the night of September 10th,” said a police officer involved in the case. Afterward, the young man came to the police station to cooperate with the investigation, and according to his testimony, him and the elderly person indeed had a dispute over a bus seat.

“He is a university student, a non-local, 20 years old, and had boarded the 919 Route public bus at the Jinshui Road and Minhang Road bus stop, originally with the intention of riding the bus to the terminal stop near his school at Zhongyuan Road Third Ring West,” said the police officer. The elderly person probably boarded the bus near the Jianshe Road and Songshan Road intersection, and had the argument with the young man at the Jianshe Road and Wenhuagong Road intersection.

“The two argued and had a physical altercation, got off the bus to have another physical altercation, and then both got back on the bus. Worried that an argument would happen again, passengers urged the young man to get off the bus early before reaching his stop, so the young man got off at near Tongbai Road and Shichang Street,” said the police officer. The exact time the elderly person fainted is still undergoing investigation. “Because the young person and the elderly person had a physical altercation, the young person bears some responsibility for the elderly person’s sudden death. There’s still about five days before we’ll get the autopsy report.”

Yesterday at 5:30pm, this reporter arrived at the Jianshe Road Public Security Sub-Bureau Second Intermediate Criminal Investigation Unit hoping to see the college student, but up till 6:20, the college student was in interrogation with police officers saying he would not be able to meet with reporters.



Elderly people in their 80s raise signs proposing that seats be given up for young people

Yesterday at 2:30pm, in front of the Wenhuagong Road and Jianshe Road intersection 919 Route public bus stop, three elderly persons over the age of 80 held “The elderly should give up their seats to young people” signs, promoting it to any elderly person passing buy. They were all members of the Zhengzhou Sunset Red Volunteer Group.

Seven years ago, they started this advocacy. “The tragedy on the 9th should not have happened on a Zhengzhou public bus at all, because Zhengzhou public bus riders should be very civilized,” said Liang Yongxiang. These days, young people have a lot of stress in their lives and work. Having to go out early and return home late, it’s extremely tiring. Some have elderly and children to take care of, so their lives aren’t easy, whereas the majority of elderly people are retired and have it relatively easy. We want the elderly to avoid taking the bus during rush hour, and even more to avoid arguing over seats with the young during these times. “Some elderly people who buy groceries and only ride the bus for a stop insist on doing so during rush hour, which is really wrong. Some just ride the public bus in circles [for the air conditioning] because the weather is hot, which is even more wrong. Of course, the majority of elderly people are still the self-disciplined [conscientious].”

Elderly Li Decheng says that if elderly people want the young to respect them, they should first take care of the young. “You should treat young passengers like your own children. Only when everyone respects the elderly and cherishes the young will society be harmonious.”

Yesterday, there were over 50 elderly people who participated in the Sunset Red Volunteer Group’s advocacy activity.


This reporter rode the Zhengzhou public bus eight times to observe

Yesterday at 11:30am, this reporter followed an old lady in boarding the 60 Route public bus at the Zhongyuan Road and Gongren Road intersection.

Inside the bus, the seats reserved for the elderly, handicapped, and pregnant did not actually have many special-needs passengers seated in them. This reporter noticed a youth in one of the reserved seats, listening to music, who upon seeing the old lady, immediately pulled out his earplugs, got up, and gave the seat to the old lady.

As the bus reached the Jingguang Road intersection, another old lady boarded, and a girl stood up to give up her seat, but the old lady smiled and declined. “I’m only riding for two stops, dear, so you sit, thank you!”

Then, this reporter boarded the 62 Route public bus at Zijingshan Road heading towards Qiche South Road, which had more passengers on board. An old grandfather boarded at the same time as this reporter. When the bus’s pre-recorded prompt to give up one’s seat for the elderly sounded, no one rose to give up their seat. The elderly man stood next to one of the reserved seats, where a young man appeared to be napping, his eyes closed. When the bus reached Hanghai Road and the upcoming stop was announced, this young man immediately got up and got off. Turns out he wasn’t sleeping. It wasn’t until then that the elderly person had a seat to sit in.

At around 1pm, this reporter boarded the 9 Route public bus at Longhai West Road. At this time, there were already no more seats available on the bus. Two grey-haired elderly boarded the bus at the Jianshe Road Bishagang Park stop, and just as they got on, a girl that was sitting in one of the non-reserved seats in the very front row immediately stood up to let one of the elderly sit, while a girl in one of the reserved seats rushed to stand up as well, helping the other elderly person sit down. This reporter rode the bus for nine stops. Every stop where elderly people boarded, there were passengers who gave up their seats. A Mr. Huang who regularly takes this bus says the 9 Route is the “People’s Militia Route”, the bus route with the longest history in Zhengzhou. “The frequency of giving up seats on this bus is very high. I’ve never heard of there being a fight over a seat on this bus route.”

Yesterday, this reporter made eight trips on the 9, 102, 37, and 66 routes. About 90% of the time, young passengers gave up their seat for the elderly.


Top three reasons for not giving up one’s seat:

Not feeling well, too tired from work, the elderly person is healthy/robust

According to Yang Yuxiang of the public transportation company, every public bus has pre-recorded prompts to give up seats for the elderly, handicapped, or pregnant on the bus stop announcement system. The company requires the driver to play the prompts upon seeing a special-needs passenger get on board. “Zhengzhou Public Transportation leads the country in the giving up of seats. In 2010, the ‘building a model city’ findings publicized by the National Statistics Bureau Zhengzhou Investigation Team showed: among 14 bus routes observed, there was only one route where the phenomenon of not giving up one’s seat was observed. This was reported throughout the nation at the time. This is one of the things Zhengzhou Public Transportation prides itself on.”

Investigations at the time revealed that around 93% of young people interviewed said they proactively give up their seats when encountering elderly, pregnant, or handicapped people. 70.40% of interviewees have encountered situations where “someone voluntarily gave up their seat but the elderly person gracefully declined with thanks out of consideration for the young person”. Only 18.24% have encountered the elderly asking young people to give up their seat. Simultaneously, over 3000 interviews openly said there have been situations where they didn’t give up their seats, with the top three reasons being: not feeling well, too tired from work, and the elderly person looked physically healthy/robust. “The frequency of giving up seats nowadays would not be lower than in 2010,” said Yang Yuxiang. As of 2008 March, the “Zhengzhou City Municipal Public Transportation Regulations (Draft)” has had a provision that the bus driver can refuse carrying a passenger who does not give up their seat for the elderly, handicapped, or pregnant, and that the municipal public transportation administration department can also fine that passenger 50 yuan. “This is a local statute, and usually difficult to enforce, so giving up seats relies on people’s own initiative/conscientiousness.”

During the interview, one bus driver spoke frankly that what happened on the 919 Route is not unrelated to the high rate of giving up seats in Zhengzhou and the overly high expectations of the elderly.


“南来北往”: When respecting the old and caring for the young, don’t forget those who are not related to you. Only when young people know to respect and treat well the elderly, and the elderly empathize and care for the young, can this society be even more harmonious and beautiful.

“满满星”: Sometimes young people not giving up their seats doesn’t mean they are immoral. They may have a very good personal reason! Some illnesses are not immediately visible on the outside. Do young people who are sick need to carry around their diagnoses in order to sit in their seats with a clear conscience?

“小草”: Respecting the elderly and caring for the young is one of our virtues. When I was 3-months pregnant, it wasn’t obvious to others. That day, I was feel really unwell, and an elderly person stood right next to me. Although she didn’t say anything, I knew she wanted me to give up my seat for her. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but I needed the seat more at the time, and trusted that the elderly person would understand.

“呼啸”: I’m 40 years old this year. Every time I’m sitting in my seat, as long as an elderly person gets on board, I’ll definitely give up my seat for them. I’ve done this for over 20 years now, because we will all be old one day.

Author: Xu Fuying

Comments from NetEase:

dfdx12138 [网易广东省揭阳市网友]:

1. The seats on public transportation are for anyone to sit in.
2. Healthy young people voluntarily giving up their seats for the elderly is a virtue, and worth promoting.
3. Young people are not obligated to give up their seats for the elderly, and not voluntarily giving up their seats is not a crime.
4. Elderly people do not have the right to demand that young people give up their seats.
5. Elderly people hitting people is a crime.
6. When a young person is assaulted, they can use reasonable self-defense under the law.
7. The elderly person hit the young person, the young person did not hit back. The old man suddenly died afterward. The young person should not bear any legal liability for the old man’s death (let me use an example here: an old man sees someone on the street, wondering how this person dares going out when they look so ugly, and so charges up and slaps the person four times. This person silent walks away, but is still on the street. The old man thinks that person has been hit but still won’t go home, gets increasingly angry, and then suddenly dies. Should the person who was hit bear legal responsibility?)

造梦者Dreamer [网易吉林省延边州手机网友]:

No comments? He bear no fucking responsibility. This was an old man who did not deserve respect. So when we get older, we can just do whatever we please?

静静静静的爱 [网易四川省成都市手机网友]:

Poor kid, was slapped four times and now has to bear responsibility, it truly feels like The Injustice of Dou E.

5毛杂碎地上跪 [网易江苏省南京市手机网友]:

The damn old thing that refuses to die actually died from anger, truly fucking deserved it!

网易广东省手机网友 ip:122.13.*.*

He bears responsibility for this? Isn’t this bullshit?

e07caa42111b3468a9fb4413 [网易湖南省常德市手机网友]:

The characters of young people in this modern day and age are indeed somewhat poor. Most of the parents for this generation of [young] people had gone out to work [far away from home, did not have the time to teach/raise their children [were absentee parents], and the education system has completely neglected public morality/ethics education, so internet comments totally reveal this generation of people’s selfishness, unreasonableness, even complete irrationality.

网易上海市手机网友 ip:180.171.*.*

Can’t believe there are this many people supporting the young person. People these days sure are selfish. The young person should have generously given up his seat. Then the conflict wouldn’t have happened. Standing up a little won’t kill you. Every time I’m on the bus and see an elderly person board, some people will avert their eyes pretending to be watching the passing scenery. Seeing this disgusts me. Some elderly people will stay silent, and there are those who will sometimes ask that the seat be given up for them.

网易安徽省蚌埠市手机网友 ip:36.57.*.*

Dusk, a road, a public bus.
People, men, two men, one old, one young, face to face.
Silence, a very long silence.
The two people, like statues, in confrontation, as the sun went down.

“You, get up, I want to sit,” the old man finally broke the silence.
“I will not,” the youth said, without hesitation, word by word.
The old man’s body looked as if it had been hit by these three words.
The old man muttered to himself, then slowly said: “Then what will it take for you to give up your seat?”
“Nothing,” again without the slightest hesitation.
The color in the old man’s face had already changed: “You know, no one has ever dared not give up their seat for me.”
“I don’t know!”

The old man glared at the person in front of him. He was very young, but his eyes, they were forgettable, tranquil like the night, deep like the ocean.
He knew that the youth before him was no ordinary person, but he also knew that he would never allow anyone to not give up their seat for him.
And around them, it was still very quiet, quiet like death.

The setting sun was gradually disappearing under the horizon, and as he looked at the distant setting sun, he felt an indescribable fear.
He laughed bitterly: “You certain you won’t give up your seat for me today?”
“What if I insist on sitting here?”
“You can try!”
Silence, silence like death.

Suddenly, the air moved, the old man had struck! Smack smack smack smack! Just like that, four slaps landed on the youth’s face! No one saw the four slaps, because these four slaps were too fast, unbelievably fast, horrifically fast. There is probably no one else in under the heavens who could throw slaps so fast.
That youth did not look as if he had tried dodging, nor did he try blocking them. He simply sat there, as before, still and calm.

A little while later, the youth stood up and walked towards the bus door.
I’ve won this battle, the old man thought to himself, completely and thoroughly, and a look of smug self-satisfaction flashed across the old man’s face.
With his back to him, without even turning his head around, the youth said: “Do you really think you beat me?”
The old man’s body body trembled slightly.
“Obviously, I’m about to sit down.”
“Then how have I not beaten you?”
“Too bad you overlooked one thing.”

The old man suddenly looked at the youth, as a muscle on his face twitched, as if he had suddenly realized something, but too late.
At this moment, the old one’s body fell, heavily. His heart had stopped beating, never to beat again!
Without looking back, the youth chuckled, saying: “I’m home~!”

The second article merely asks netizens whether or not the young person should be held liable for the old man’s death…

Comments from NetEase:

网易上海市手机网友 ip:140.206.*.*

[He] bears fuck all liability.

一直学习的农民工 [网易北京市手机网友]:

He was hit and instead bears responsibility? What kind of world is this?

时尚的千年老妖 [网易广东省深圳市手机网友]:

He was assaulted and has to pay compensation, is there any justice in this world left?

网易黑龙江省哈尔滨市手机网友 ip:221.207.*.*

What kind of bandit logic is this? [The old man] has a temper problem and it’s blamed on others?

网易湖北省宜昌市手机网友 ip:183.93.*.*

Some elderly people exploit their old age.

szskliuc [网易上海市手机网友]:

I’ve never seen people give up their seats for the elderly in Hong Kong. A lot of countries and places directly mark seats as reserved for the elderly, handicapped, or pregnant, and people normally won’t go sit in them.

117820433 [网易云南省保山市手机网友]:

Allow me to educate everyone. If someone dies, then it becomes a criminal matter. In determining whether or not someone has commit a crime, there are three factors to consider: actus reus + illegality + liability. This young guy’s actions do not constitute an objective element of causation in criminal law, and thus does not constitute a crime at all. However, civil liability depends on the details of the case. But, in our country, even if the elderly person provoked the incident, it is life on one hand and morality on the other. From the perspective of the law, life is more important, so the young guy probably has to pay compensation in the civil case, but it won’t be a lot. It depends on whether or not the old man’s family is willing to settle. If not, then it depends on the judge’s professional integrity.

3022cae0e542e493c95c2a41 [网易天津市手机网友]:

Through this matter, I personally believe this is something caused by a lack of morals in present society, of people thinking they deserve this, should enjoy that, as long as one is happy, not putting oneself in other people’s shoes to consider things, one’s interests/benefit above all else. This problem should be dealt with at the root, so that people can truly become part of society, instead of being just by themselves.

网易河北省保定市手机网友 ip:111.225.*.*

And he’s supposed to be a college student, bullshit, he doesn’t even know to respect the elderly and care for the young! When I as pregnant and rode the public bus, no one gave up their seat for me either. Only after standing for two stops and someone finally got off did I finally get a seat. After a while, a white-haired old lady boarded and again, no one gave up their seat. After watching her sway back and forth standing there as the bus drove, I finally gave up my seat for her. Those healthy and able bodied people should be ashamed of themselves!

xietielong [网易陕西省西安市手机网友]:

Not responsible, not responsible for this kind of karmic retribution.


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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