Shanghai Pudong Airport Stabbing, Only A “Laowai” Helped

After a son stabs his mother othe Shanghai Pudong International Airport, only a lone foreigner helps the mother as Chinese only stand by and watch.

After a son stabs his mother othe Shanghai Pudong International Airport, only a lone foreigner helps the mother as Chinese only stand by and watch.

From Global Chinese Net:

Shanghai study abroad student stabs mother at airport, rescuer was laowai

23-year-old Wang X who had been studying abroad in Japan for 5 years arrived at the arrival terminal of Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on the night of April 1st and stabbed Gu X, his mother who had come to pick him up, consecutively 9 times, causing her to lose consciousness on the spot. Afterward, Wang X was arrested by police on criminal charges and it wasn’t until the 8th that Gu X was transferred from the intensive care unit to the general ward. As for the reason for the violence, Wang X says his mother had indicated that she would not give him money, “[she said] something like if I continued to ask for money, there would only be one result, and all of a sudden my mind went blank and I charged up to her and stabbed her”. However, Gu X denies that they had quarreled over tuition.

From QQ and Sina:

Study abroad student stabbing mother video released, crowd of onlookers, only a laowai extended a hand in aid

After the case of a Chinese student who had been studying overseas in Japan stabbing his mother was revealed by the media, it aroused a very large reaction in society. Yesterday, a netizen provided the Shanghai Morning Post a video filmed of the incident. In the recording, the assailant had already left, leaving only the mother lying on the ground and a laowai giving her medical assistance.

At this time, Shanghai police yesterday also confirmed that legal procedures for evaluating the psychological condition of the study abroad in Japan student Wang X who had stabbed his mother consecutively 9 times had formally begun.

Here is the video, uploaded 7 hours ago on Ku6, where it has accumulated over 370k views so far, and seems to be the copy that is spread on Sina Weibo:

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An copy of the video on Youku, uploaded 5 hours ago, already with over 360k views, and seems to be spreading more on social networks like RenRen and various discussion forums:

A copy on YouTube:

Can’t see the above video?

Comments from QQ:


Actually, it isn’t that everyone doesn’t want to help, it’s that the experience of Nanjing Peng Yu is still very clear in everyone’s minds, this is China!

[Note: Nanjing Peng Yu refers to a 2006 case in Nanjing. On the morning of November 20th, 65-year-old woman Xu Shoulan had fallen and injured herself at a bus stop. A man, Peng Yu, helped her up and then, after her requests, took her to the hospital. The old woman then blamed him and claimed that he had run into her. Peng Yu resolutely denied this. The old woman sued him. After four trials, a Nanjing judge ruled that since he admitted to being the first person to get off the bus, and in accordance with common sense, there was a greater probability that he had run into the old woman, and so he was ordered to compensate her over 45,000 RMB. This was a very famous case, often to explain why many people are reluctant to help others. See also: Bystanders Only Help After Old Man Says He Fell By Himself]


Ordinary passengers may lack first aid knowledge, so what were all the airport workers doing? They should’ve been trained on how to deal with emergencies, right (including first aid measures)? Why was it that only laowai who offered help, where were airport workers? And an international airport too…


I’ve seen something similar in Shanghai before, where an old lady suddenly had a heart attack and collapsed and a girl who claimed to be a nurse only said what should be done but would not go forward [and help herself]. A laowai broke through the crowd and said he was a doctor, and then diligently administered aid to the old lady, until 120 [paramedics, ambulance] arrived.


This laowai is so adorable…may good people have a life of peace and safety.


There are simply two points to crowds of onlookers: 1. If it doesn’t affect oneself, don’t get involved. Helping others may result create more problems for oneself. 2. Poor ability to deal with emergencies, no systematic training on how to provide medical assistance, not knowing how to provide medical assistance. Laowai‘s efficiency and way of thinking towards emergencies is not as complicated as we Chinese think, it’s very simply, just rescue/save them first


Hehe, laowai may spend an entire life and never figure out this country’s issues, when our own people can’t figure it out either.


If you don’t do a good job saving them, it becomes you who killed them.


It isn’t that people don’t want to help/rescue/save, but that they don’t dare to, not wanting to be bitten [blamed] in return for helping. This is just how Chinese people are. If you save them well, they’ll thank you, but if something goes wrong, they might just bite you in return.


Even a weapon like a knife can be brought into an airport? Truly speechless.


Nanjing Peng Yu’s experience is still very vivid in people’s minds.


Chinese people are already becoming increasingly hopeless, so sad, such a pity, so lamentable!


See, this is what Chinese people are like, a country that claims 5000 years of civilization, is that pride or irony? I feel that saying this is very shameful.


Sometimes foreigners are indeed much better than us in this regard! When my wife and I were vacationing in Beijing, there was a foreign friend who volunteered to help take a picture of us, we were truly very touched.
Honestly, it isn’t that our people don’t have character, it is because we have been “hurt” too many times, and that’s why we don’t rush forward to help others!


Deeply indifferent countrymen express their feelings of shame, salute those laowai [who are deserving of respect/admiration]!


What others have said is the truth. I used to be very willing of helping others, but after seeing that Nanjing 2B old lady and 2B judge, I have to think twice now before doing good deeds.


Whoever does good deeds is whoever is a SB. Though I often do good deeds, I always go home and curse myself as having been a SB.


Don’t all blame this or that, first ask yourself, if it were you, would you have done something to help rescue? If you would, then you can blame others.


Chinese people’s character is too low, only see money not people. If it were money spilled all over the ground, then people wouldn’t just be standing around looking on, they’d be scrambling to loot it. Today’s society doesn’t have a shred of human kindness, only power and interest. Sigh, our ordinary common people also want to help but can’t [don’t have the ability, aren’t in a position to, are afraid to].


I can only say, to our government, stop only pursuing economic growth, because when the people are no longer people, what’s the use of money?

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.

  • blackflagnation

    how do you stab, let alone do any harm to your mother? obviously not psychologically stable, and of course, only the foreigner provides assistance to the injured mother…come on, man, help your wounded, people!

    • Word. I have to say, while I understand the Peng Yu thing and the fear of being bitten in return for your kindness, it’s hard to imagine that being an issue here. The woman was stabbed. As long as their fingerprints aren’t on the knife, my guess is, anyone could have safely helped her with no real risk to themselves.

      • keius

        There was no real logic behind Peng Yu being deemed responsible for the old woman’s injuries. There is no logic or justice, or even proof required for Chinese courts/judges to lay down the smack on innocents. That’s why there is always some real risk behind helping others. If it wasn’t for the videos, they probably would have arrested the foreigner and charged him with the deed, even if they found the knife with someone else’s prints on it. Hell, i wouldn’t be surprised if the nutcase’s mother accused the foreigner of stabbing her to protect her son from being arrested….

        • Ethan JRT

          The chance of your Scenario A occurring is slim; the chance of Scenario B occurring, even slimmer. I have nothing to support that assertion; but as you can’t back up your own comments either and a lot of the visitors to this site have some experience living in and/or studying China, I’m not too worried about that.

          I’m not a big fan of most of the racism I tend to see here, but I do think it’s true that the Chinese “怕事” – literally, “to be afraid of things/incidents.” See the “Lu Xun Failed” entry here for a fuller discussion on the topic.

          • GodsHammer

            If there had been no witnesses then scenario B is a DEFINITE possibility. How long have you lived here man?

        • Ethan JRT

          And by “here” I meant here. ::

        • Ethan JRT

          Good lord, my HTML is rusty and you can’t edit/delete your own comments here.

          Let me try that again: HERE.

          Apologies for the mess.

        • Chris

          There’s a serious need for a good Samaritan law put in place.

        • Alex

          Ya, that Peng Yu case I just read in one of the comments certainly left me with the impression that there’s a major flaw in the Chinese judicial system concerning good samaritans. The very notion that a good samaritan can be found guilty by a judge based on less than circumstantial evidence certainly won’t promote goodwill amongst the people – though, that said, I doubt this is the reason no one helped except a foreigner. No matter what, if someone was stabbed and was bleeding, I would help because my instincts would push me to it – so, I think it’s just that most Chinese are just non-caring towards strangers.

          • Is that what Confucius taught?

        • Josh

          See, in America we have this innovative technology called security cameras.

      • Ray

        I guess there is also the fear that the victim will sue for improper medical treatment….

        • Nathan

          Ok, so no-one came to her assistance, but maybe the lao wai got there first and seemed to have it under control. Too many cooks spoil the broth and all that. I’ve seen somebody hit by a car a few days ago and 4 Chinese rushed to help him. Surely the most objectionable thing here is that someone films it on their mobile phone.

          Also no-one seems to notice that its only a foreigner in an airport helping. Lao wai refers to the majority of the worlds population, black, white, asian and so on. Another story blown out of proportion.

          • fobulous4life

            too many cooks spoil the broth?????

            T_T….that is such a morbid image in this case.

  • krdr

    He doesn’t knows for cases when injured people accused people that helped for injuries. Do you remember case of granny that felt from bus?

    • 老外

      I once tripped in China and everyone ran away from me. I just laughed and got back up. I wasn’t hurt physically, but I felt a little sick when I realized nobody wanted to help me, and instead tried to avoid me. It was then that I understood all of these Peng Yu comments were true.

      • PRC

        learn how to walk and don’t trip again in front of 1.4 billion people coz it’s embarrassing.

        • 王老吉

          PRC…We can see clearly, by your answer, that you are just like the people who were just looking at the poor lady who was stabbed. You would let the woman die, because helping her would be loosing too much face, right!?…i am guessing you’re chinese…

    • Jack

      Even before Peng Lu – granny case, its not that Chinese people were rushing to help humanity, they were same before and after, but indeed i have seen some videos of Chinese people helping catch the robbers in bike etc.

      So, not all Chinese people are like that, they do help

      • Ryo

        No one can ever say “all.” Of course there will always be few that are willing to help. But the chances are very low compare to people who won’t help.

        If you were going to get a heart attack, would you rather have it in the US or in China?

        Yeah, I though so….

  • That’s messed… guess he really didn’t want to come back, now he gets a nice room with free food and a healthy work schedule provided by the government! Congrats…

    As for the foreigner aspect, who cares foreigner or Chinese? Glad someone helped her anyway.

    “This laowai is so adorable…may good people have a life of peace and safety.”


    • B-real

      Unfortunately chinese prisons don’t have free food for prisoners. Someone has to bring his food everyday. Being in prison is a big burden for the family, true punishment is chinese re-education centers or holding asylums. I know this because I had a Canadian friend who had a 10 year old expired passport and the Canadian Gov.. no longer recognized his citizenship to extradite him out. For 2 months each of us “friend” had to bring him opened canned goods that needed no cooking or rice just so that he stay alive until one us caved and bought him a ticket out of the country.

      • PeterScriabin

        Fascinating. Is this true of all levels of prison, and regardless of sentence length? What if there is no one willing to bring such food, or any food? Does the prisoner accumulate a 买单, or does he just starve to death?

        • B-real

          Good question, I have no answers to that but it almost seems as though. I another scenario is my drivers used to be involved in a gang and 1 of his partners in crime took the blame for some stuff and served ten, his wife had to bring him food on a constant basis I don’t think it was everyday and again I don’t think the prisons serve anything other than rice and bread. I doubt they let you starve to death but I wouldn’t put it past them either. As far as a salary goes I don’t think get paid while in prison atleast my friend didn’t. Not like in the US where they get paid 10cents or something for everyday served and more if they did manual labor upon release they get paid.

    • Adorable?

      可爱 – usually means “cute”, but it can be used in many different circumstances where English-speakers simply wouldn’t use such a phrase.

      • It would work in this situation? Why does helping someone who has been stabbed repeatedly in an airport make you 可爱?

        Need to get back to studying Chinese again I guess.

        • Sunshine

          Because 可爱, if you dissect the characters and go for its literal meaning is, essentially, lovable.

          We use this word not only to express that something is cute or adorable in an “awwww look at its wittle ears” sense, but also for things that are lovable, that deserve respect, or generally just to express the good-natured-ness of that thing/entity/whatever/can’t speak English today hi.

    • Alikese

      Awww, look at that adorable laowai, he thinks he’s people!

      • That’s what always runs through my head when I hear people say “that foriegner is so adorable!” Using his opposable thumbs and everything!!

        • anon

          As Sunshine said, “ke ai” can be used as an expression of approval or admiration. In those situations, it may not translate well into English. “Adorable” probably wasn’t a good translation for anyone not already familiar with “ke ai” usage in Chinese.

        • Reader

          Considering the quantity of douche-bag foreigners in China I think calling one adorable is a compliment.

          • May

            Considering the quantity of ignorant chinese abroad I think calling one of them a retard is an understatement

          • Alex

            My friend, what exactly is a “foreigner” to you? Funny, because is sure seems that in every single thing, China is emulating the West. Your pop music (yeah, that’s Western style), the way you dress (West), your technology – you didn’t exactly invent shit btw, the way you even think now is Western. Fuck, even your political system comes from Europe…for I sure hope that you know that Communism originates from Europe. Show some respect for the people you dream of becoming… You are so far away from being a proper Chinese as I am. You are just a Westerner wannabe stuck in China.

          • Joe

            May clearly has not been introduced to any of China’s English teachers.

  • anon

    A lot of people swear high and low they’d definitely rush to help in these sort of situations yet in the vast majority of these incidents, it’s always a random few who actually do while far more people are bystanders.

    Fauna, you should add a question at the end like you normally do, but this time asking people to think back and share about moments in their lives where they could’ve helped but actually didn’t, and what their reasons were.

    Most people think incredibly highly of themselves, only remember when they’ve helped or that they generally do intend to help those in needs, but conveniently forgetting the many instances where they had the opportunity to do something but ultimately didn’t. There are always more people who stand there wondering if they should do something than there are people who actually end up acting. Most of the time, whether consciously or not, those people who were wondering about doing something stop wondering the moment someone else does something, thereby alleviating them of the burden of having to act.

    • Tom12GA

      I was in a Guangdong city last year and I saw a person attempting to pick the pocket of a lady he was walking extremely close to with these extra-long pair of silver metal chopsticks. I let out a bloodcurdling yell and he gave me an angry stare and then slunk off into the night.

      While relating the story to my wife an hour later, she told me that I was wrong to get involved since the lady was only a stranger and for all I knew there was a whole gang that could could have come back and stabbed me. (For me, it was just instinct that took over.)

      • Boris

        Yes -I shouted at some reprobate doing the same chopsticky-thing. My guy was at the entrace to the old city in Lijiang. Stood very close to the victim. Bump-attack -similar to what a shark does if it’s not sure if what it’s singled-out as a meal is actually edible or not. Except for the chopsticks. Now I’m getting myself confused! Anyway, the point I wish to make is, he gave me a look like I’d just broken wind in front of his grandmother -after eating brussels sprouts!

  • angryman

    Knife? Airport? How did he get it on the plane?

    • Fort

      I can answer that question with one word……..china

      • blackflagnation

        wasn’t the dude’s origination point Japan (based on the info that he was studying abroad in Japan)? obviously, we don’t know if it was a direct flight as it’s not mentioned.

        • Jon

          Uh, from Japan to China…. pretty sure there’s no place to stopover in between.

      • Grammarian

        What? He stabbed her with a shard from a china plate?
        Was the knife concealed in a Ming vase?
        China is the country, china is the material.

        • gramarian sox

          gramarian, u suxors!

          China, if it are the 1rd wordz in the santence can means both “cuntry” and “material” because its capitaliz’d.

          suk it up biotch!

    • Given all the crap that is going on in the States with X-Ray machines and metal detectors – I am very surprised at this article. Did this guy fly out of Narita in Tokyo, or a smaller airport? Unless…

      … this guy unzipped his luggage in baggage claim and the knife out there. Which makes this story even twice as nasty, because it meant that most likely someone saw him pull out the knife, and did not say one word.

      • PeterScriabin

        Just to reinforce your (clearly correct) hypothesis about retrieving the knife from checked baggage – this is perfectly feasible anywhere, including the USA – which is why you always have to re-clear security when taking a connecting flight at the same airport, any time your baggage is not checked through. Once you can get at your checked baggage, all bets are off. The smear up above (Fort), about China, is ridiculous. They also won’t let you take a knife on the plane, except in checked baggage. My God, they even found the tiny yoghurt container I’d forgotten about since breakfast.

        As for “most likely someone saw him pull out the knife”, I don’t think people are necessarily watching anyone and everyone fiddling with their luggage, especially once out of baggage-reclaim and customs.

        Of the info given on this incident, the most interesting part to me was the perp’s remark that his mind went blank. I’ve known that kind of rage. All the force of your mind seems to drain into your limbs.

        After that happens, you learn a lot about years of “unconscious” pent-up emotion, and you’re forever-after wondering how much control the conscious mind really has. I guess this young chap is going to have plenty of time for self-analysis.

        • Alex

          Agreed. I’ve brought cooking knifes into Beijing and took them out in the airport to put it in my body so I can go into the subway with them.

          Easy as pie.

        • bunny99

          “I don’t think people are necessarily watching anyone and everyone fiddling with their luggage,”

          Someone should be, but it is not an ideal world.

          For example it would be possible for a group of men to carry weapons into the airport departures hall, unpack them and open fire on the check-in desks – so I hope someone would be watching them fiddling with their luggage.

          Maybe they only watch men with beards – but what if the men had beards but shaved them off ???

    • Shanghairen

      You can put a knife in checked baggage.

      Anyway, Chinese people citing the Nanjing Peng Yu incident is total nonsense. It is one incident, and it is probably the only time something like that has happened, yet people think that there is a high probability that it will happen to them if they try to help someone. It boggles the mind how so many Chinese people can be completely devoid of any logic.

      • Happens everywhere though. Media creates the idea that things are worse than they are by repetition. In Canada people think crime is rising because they keep talking about it to push the new war on crime and drugs, same everywhere, people are easily to manipulate.

      • Andy

        Hey sorry for the offtopic but does anyone here know if you can take a sword into checked baggage? My grandma has one and wants to give it to me the next time she visits, but so far I’ve been persuading her against it since I think she would probably not be allowed on the plane with it. Anybody knows for sure?

        • TFF

          It depends on the customs laws of the countries you are travelling between. Airlines generally don’t care as long as the weapons are in check in luggage (ie not taken in the cabin) and not firearms/explosives. I’ve taken swords and other weapons in my check in luggage before without any problems.

          Check the customs website of the destination country for details, as they usually have fact sheets available. For example, Australia doesn’t allow importation of blades less than 40cm and certain other weapons without a special permit. The country your grandmother is taking the swords from (China?) may also have regulations on it, but usually it’s just the destination country.

    • ybin

      There is a simple explanation for that. The knife was in his checked luggage. After you enter the airport, you will pick up your checked luggage, right?

    • Ryo

      Giving that he’s with his mother at the time, it would seem that he would of gotten his luggage, where you can ship virtually anything including liquids, knives, and compressed gas.

      So he could of gotten the knife out of his luggage before exiting to the “pick up” area where the mother was waiting.

      Common sense people. Common sense!

  • Just John

    The ironic part is, here, you have a “laowei” helping to try to save a Chinese woman, and not a single Chinese steps in to help, and one of the related posts video is “Chinese Passengers Beat Unruly Foreigner On Guangzhou Metro”, showing they will help each other to beat a different “laowei”.

    Anyone else see the irony here?

    • Polly Pollyanna

      it’s not irony,

      that’s reality

      human tribalism

      better hope there isn’t a war

      • GodsHammer

        No. War is JUST the THING that is needed.

        • Polly Pollyanna

          well that’s a stupid thing to say

          that’s like saying my toe is broken so chop off the whole leg and bleed to death.

          whitey is the scapegoat for the domestic crimes of the chinese communist party. there, i said it. now fuck off.

        • Why war?

          What’s your logic behind that statement?

    • Xiao en

      The foreigner on the Metro was a douchebag, he was flipping off people sitting in the seats then proceeds to call them all bitches. He was confrontational and got what he or any other person doing that deserves, an ass kicking. Mind your manners and always be polite.

      People are afraid to help others because of the court systems that have ZERO common sense, punishing a person for helping. In America we do not help because we might injure the person further and be liable for causing more harm than help.

      It is horrible to see a person suffering and hurt, their cries of pain are torture to anyone with a soul. Our natural reaction is to try to aid and comfort this person, then the reality of the times hits us and we think why do I want to jeprodize what I have worked for most of my life for a person a total stranger who may be ungrateful for your help. Instead of a Thank You , you get sued in court of law.

      I fail to see the irony between the two situations.

      • Just John

        Then read my comment posted below in reply to Grammarian, and maybe you will see what I am talking about that is the case of irony, at least to my point.

        As for your “People are afraid to help because of the court systems”, you could not be farther from the truth, at least in many areas.

        Ever heard of good Samaritan laws? It basically absolves the good Samaritan of legal responsibility when trying to assist in a life and death situation. This changes for professionals like nurses, doctors, etc, who are there as a common citizen, but basically protects people from the Peng Lu type of proceeding, so don’t give me that BS (And yes, it does have specific requirements to meet the criteria, but I have never talked to a single person who has not helped because they might get sued. It is more often things like “I don’t want to be in bad situation [woman assisting a strange guy by the side of the road], I don’t have time to help, or the all to common Kitty issue of someone will deal with it, why should I get involved, etc). That is why I actively learned things like first aid, CPR, Blood born pathogens, etc, so I could help people if those situations arose.

        Now, before others say “Well this is China”, I was specifically addressing his comment about the US.

    • Grammarian

      If you mean “irony” in the Alanis Morrisette sense of the word, i.e. “irony” means “bad luck”, then I guess I can, otherwise no irony there.

      • Just John

        By Irony I mean that the Chinese will gang together to beat on a laowei, but they will not gang together to save a stabbed Chinese woman that a laowei is assisting.

        Goes to show the mentality on harming vs. helping, that the group will be united when they need to beat down said laowei, but that there is no uniting when trying to help their own citizens.

        Or maybe we see a gathering together to harm no matter what, whether it is directly harming a mouthy laowei (Which I agree with above comments, did deserve it), or to harm a Chinese woman who has been stabbed by letting her lie there bleeding to death with no help.

        • anon

          There are plenty of other stories of Chinese people helping each other, and foreigners too, including on this website. But those stories don’t stick with us as much as the negative stories do.

          I understand why you find it ironic, but it’s really just not that ironic given the many factors involved to make the situations so different from each other.

          • Just John

            Well, that is why I asked if others find it ironic. Me, it seems to link together in my logic, but for others, there is no relative link between them, so to them there is no irony involved.

            I also did not mean to imply that all Chinese are cold hearted and will not help anyone else in need, it is just the amusing reference to the related post and this post that I found in this case to cause an ironic situation.

            Even with all the BS I sometimes see here, I understand that basically Chinese are human, just like the rest of us, and have virtues and vices, so no single situation is reflective of the society as a whole.

          • fabulous

            I don’t think you need to worry so much John.
            It’s okay to not know what irony means. Lots of people don’t know what it means. You don’t have to pretend now that your question was meant as a conversation starter. Sometimes rhetorical questions go wrong. Nobody thinks any less of you.

            Next time it would save you a lot of time to just acknowledge your mistake instead of going of on tangents. Going off on tangents to round up support for a failing comment is much too time consuming. Although the “no single situation is reflective of society as a whole” comment is difficult to argue against, making it a very safe option.

          • Just John


            WTF are you talking about? Your comments pertain to me in what way? I was explaining why I found it ironic. I think you need to lay off the drugs. Guess what, not everyone agrees with everyone else or always sees logic eye to eye, not sure what that has to do with me not understanding irony.

            Lets try it this way:
            Irony as defined by websters: (1) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2) : an event or result marked by such incongruity

            So, I would expect many Chinese to assist a laowei save a Chinese woman, which did not happen.
            Next, I would not expect many Chinese to mob mentality on a laowei, which did happen, against my expected norms.
            Last, I would expect the same treatment for a laowei in both circumstances, many Chinese coming over to join in whatever he is doing, whether it is treating him like the asshat he is and beating him, or treating him like a hero and assisting him.

            So, as of now, you just appear to be an idiot who does not agree with my point of view and wants to try to flame me in a condescending way. Quite frankly, all I have left to say to you is, please, STFU. kthxbai.

          • fabulous

            Don’t worry so much John.
            I don’t even know what “flaming” refers to; it sounds nasty.
            I was just trying to be helpful.
            I’m happy though that something positive has come from my comment. You went and looked up the dictionary definition of irony. So now you see the issue you were having with irony.

            When two things are different almost to the point of being opposites; Chinese people not helping save a Chinese person while other Chinese people will help attack a non-Chinese person, it is better defined in a different way. You could have pointed out the contradiction or possibly even hypocrisy. “Chinese people just won’t help another Chinese person, unless of course it is to fight against a non-Chinese! Anyone else see the contradiction there?”
            That would have been a better comment.

            In this case, unfortunate as it is for the defense of your initial irony comment, everybody already expects the result correctly. And as is the case with the correct usage of the word, if the actual result and the expected result are the same it doesn’t qualify as irony.

            I’m sorry if you feel flamed. Remember even Winona Ryder couldn’t define irony.

          • Just John

            You seem to have turned this into a “You do not understand Irony” thing, which a I proved, I know what it means, and I have thus explained why I take said meaning and applied it to two different situations.

            Currently, all you are doing is making yourself look like a fool in my case, acting like you gave me some profound insight and like I had no clue what I was talking about, when in fact, neither have occurred.

            I think I am about done talking to you. baibai.

    • FYIADragoon

      Every time I see other foreigners doing stupid stuff in China I wish someone would beat their ass. That Guangzhou Metro incident was incredibly satisfying to watch. I wish they’d do that to the less annoying, but still annoying, ones too.

      • Reader

        Seconded. I might start teaching a workshop…

  • diverdude

    direct pressure. activate EMS.

  • Polly Pollyanna

    wow this is some fucked up shit right here

    when Hilary Clinton lectures the chinese about human rights, this is basically what we’re getting at – state abuse of citizenry leads to social breakdown like this.

    i have seen cases like this in the west –

    another case in Vancouver, BC a few years ago where a girl’s screams from a wooded area went ignored by neighbors, only to find her body by the river in the morning.

    this is a little different – they’re all just standing there.
    移情 = EMPATHY, people – for all people

    you just have to have trust, it’s a big step for anyone that’s been abused. the first step is admitting it.

    and then we can work together.

    • Just John

      So, this happens no where else?

      We call it the Bystander effect:
      And, it does not happen just in China, it happens worldwide (As you pointed out with Kitty Genovese). It is a human condition, not a “China” condition, so in this particular case, you are incorrectly espousing your “China Human Rights” issues here.

      But, if I remember correctly, aren’t you the one who always mentions how “Evil” China is no matter what?

      • k2000k

        Its interesting to note that there was a study done in the States about individuals who rescued others from mortal peril and lost their life in the process. It was found that they were generally young to middle age men, but most importantly, came from small town communities. They reasoned that small communities enforced a sense of duty amongst individuals to help each other out. Unfortunately larger communities such as cities are not able to instill that kind of mentality as well as small towns. Its unfortunate this happened, but really not all that unexpected.

    • Shanghairen

      Malcolm Gladwell has a new assessment of the Kitty Genovese story after interviewing some of the original residents in the area. Basically, the neighbors said they couldn’t see anything because it was dark, so that’s why no one called the police. Doesn’t that make more sense? The original reporters simply trusted what the police said.

      Every incident I see in China–whether live or on video–no one helps people they don’t know. Do you know any cases? In America sometimes people help, depending on the situation.

  • Irvin

    After living for 9 years in china, one learned to be cold to protect oneself.

    I would’ve watch her die, sad but true… really shouldn’t help anyone in china with more than a phone call to 110 (911 here) unless it’s someone you know.

    One have to remember that china have be strip of human rights and common sense for a long time, with cultural revolution and such, common sense just doesn’t applies here. you want to live you have to blend in and do as the chinese do.

    • What about the Chinese in Hong Kong and Taiwan? Are they as cold and brutalized as the Mainland?

      • Taiwan is different in many ways, it’s a special case. But you can’t compare 23 millions to 1.3 billions.

      • taphonomy

        Hong Kong used to be different but it is changing due to assimilation polices of the PRC (so i am not sure is it the case now). I still remember when i was younger when a motorcyclist was hit by a car, the car who hit him along with a few cars that saw the incident (including my dad). Everyone offered help and some even stayed until the ambulance arrived (This is during the evening when everyone are trying to get back home). A few years ago, there is also someone holding a gun to threaten someone on the street, I think one HK pedestrian actually rushed up to the guy and poke his finger inside the gun barrel and threatened him to fire (Quite dangerous actually but in HK movies, it is misrepresented as a way to be able to stop the gun from firing). Luckily the gun is fake, and the guy surrendered after a few guys also joined to put him down; then someone called the police and then you can guess what happen. So no, Hong Kongers generally are not cold, but again it is changing, and there are always exceptions.

        I don’t blame such indifference on Chinese genetics, and this is certainly not the traditional Chinese trend to be indifferent to the helpless (If one read Confucian teachings; and the Chinese concept of “Xia”, one will know helping the needy is a very fundamental concept in Chinese culture.)

        The popular trend in PRC is more like a problem in PRC education and administration. PRC citizens were taught in such a way that they cared more about someone making fun of their country (many who can’t even distinguish making fun the differences in making fun of CCP and China) then care about one of their fellow countrymen dying. And sometimes you couldn’t blame them, i still recall a few years back, PRC officials sued people who helped people injured by hit and run incidents, stating if these people are not perpetuators, they will not offered help (I still don’t get this logic). Natural selection in PRC, thanks to PRC administration shown that selflessly helping yourself is not a beneficial trait. But again, there is always exception and you certainly have to praise these men for their courage to act in such a way given the circumstances in PRC.

      • It stands to reason they aren’t (HK and Taiwan Chinese). I think Irvin meant to generalize about Mainland Chinese, but ended up writing a generalization about all Chinese–for lack of clarification.

      • ralphrepo

        Hong Kong remains very English in it’s civility, which was the main reason that many HK Chinese thought the 97 deal was ass backwards; ie. China should have been given to Hong Kong, LOL…

      • fabulous

        There’s no need for further clarification.
        Irvin was talking about PRC Chinese because he said that they had been through the Cultural Revolution. “Are they as cold and brutalized as the Mainland?” Again, with reference to the Cultural Revolution (and reiterating Indy’s comment), no.

        “What about the Chinese in Hong Kong and Taiwan?”
        What about the Chinese in San Fransisco?
        This is a different, more illuminating line of questioning. It seems to ask whether or not these traits were apparent in “Chinese” culture before the Cultural Revolution. Because then these traits would be evident in “Chinese” communities outside of mainland China.

        Not withstanding that the selfish nature of all humans makes us all capable of these actions unless taught otherwise I would posit that certain cultures are predisposed to such behavior. And before the next comment heroically responds that “not all Chinese…”, my comment referred to culture not race or nationality. I’ll get to that issue some other time.

        I have heard that this disregard for the wellbeing of others was due to the Cultural Revolution. That would indicate that such behavior is much older and more ingrained than some lady and a bus. Blaming A) an old woman, B) greed and C) recent events is probably more palatable than discussing the common guilt of something like the Cultural Revolution.

        Which is my point. Only a culture that is capable of partaking in a Cultural Revolution would partake in the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution didn’t create the negative aspects of a culture; the negative aspects of a culture allow such wide scale self-interest and careerism. Being Chinese doesn’t make you an egoist any more than being Palestinian makes you angry. Your parents, family and the culture you are raised in are the greatest influences in creating who you are. Even then a person is able to chose at some point whether or not they are strong enough to sift through who they are and to decide between what they really want to be and what they’ve been told to be.

        So the extent to which a Chinese-looking person raised somewhere other than PRC China adheres to the culture of PRC China is going to vary according to their culture and other environmental factors. So even though not everyone in China follows their culturally expected cues there certainly is an overriding “PRC Chinese” culture and comments about that culture should be free from self-righteous liberal-citizen-of-the-world heroics.

    • kevinbeijing

      I lived in BJ for 6+ years, and I know what you’re talking about, but one day while walking near JinShan Park, a clearly blind peasant was trying to cross a busy street. He had made it to the center of the road, but cars were just flying by him. Several dozen Chinese had lined the street to watch the drama unfold, but as soon as I saw what was happening – I walked out in traffic (I’m a large American dude), grabbed the old guy, and walked him to safety. Many Chinese were clapping and several came up and said, “Foreigners are so brave” and “Why you a foreigner risk his life to help an old Chinese man” – I was SO upset that none of these locals went to the aid of the blind man.
      He was from another provinece and looking for the train station. I ended up stopping a taxi, giving the driver 20RMB and had him drive the guy to the station… Grrrrr

      • Bo Wang

        With all the propaganda and bullshit in state-controlled media, the masses need uncensored entertainment, such as watching the blind guy get hit by a car or the SB help him be sued. That’s my theory.

        • roger dodger

          Thats funny. Now if you think about it could work out as a legit reason for that behaviour.

      • Muay Thai guy

        I think this phenomenon isn’t surprising if you understand the basic fact that Chinese people essentially don’t give a f@#& about anyone but themselves or their family.
        They only get angry if it “could have been them”. Peasants dying, people getting tortured, religions persecuted, demonstrations violently cracked down, all that just makes “China lose face”, but they don’t pity the victims. Only, and only if it’s a target group they can identify do they get angry at the perpetrators.
        Just look at everyday life on the street, literally nobody cares about the other, absolutely no solidarity, compassion or help. Almost all charities, NGOs have either a religious (mostly Christian, some Buddhist) or political/academic background.
        China is the most immoral country I’ve ever lived in I have to say, and I’ve lived in poorer countries (in terms of GDP/capita).

        • Cue typical assertion about how Chinese are “collectivist” and Euro-Americans “individualist”, and how this is evidenced by Chinese people paying more respect to their parents etc.

          NEWSFLASH – There’s nothing special about looking after your friends and family – it’s easy. What’s hard is looking after those who aren’t close to you and don’t automatically demand your help.

        • Chad
    • RoY

      That’s exactly the case. Couldn’t believe some rookie foreigners recklessly believe that pple r friendly here and they think they understand all the shit going on in this damned place. it’s 5000+ years of history, man. think about it! It makes human inhuman nomore. Anyway, pple have their own way of living right here. To me, it’s just sucking. I guess anyone would say the same if they have 10+ surving experience in this f-ing country.

    • Boris

      This Saturday I saw a bunch of around ten highschool students chase one kid into a park. I cycled in their direction to see if I could diffuse the situation. By the time I got to him he was lying on the floor covering his head. They had surrounded him and were kicking him everywhere they could. Two had baseball bats (I didn’t know Chinese people were such fans!) which they were hitting him with. I stuck myself as best as I could between him and the bats. Someone even picked up my bike, raised it above his head, and tried to brain the boy with it. There was a security guard guarding the park who did NOTHING until I got involved. The park was busy with Chinese citizens who did… you guessed it… nothing. Thank God I managed to appease them, rather than getting a beating myself. Why did no-one help? A friend explained they would be more afraid to beat a foreigner because they’d get trouble from the authorities. If a Chinese person got involved they’d be less reluctant because it would be harder for their new victim to prosecute. If your law doesn’t protect you I guess it makes sense to not get involved. But on my bad days I just think people here have absolutely zero social conscience…
      Three years ago I stopped a guy from knocking heck out of his girlfriend/wife. A group of people had gathered to watch him bashing her. A few people pointed and made comments to each other. He didn’t appreciate my attempt to intervene and set about me instead. We had quite a rumble, and then a large group of Chinese gathered. Then I felt really afraid. As I walked off down the street I was followed. One guy ran up to me and I thought “S..t! This is where I get a kicking from a group of Chinese.” Instead he smiled at me and announced, “China welcomes you!”

      • “…chase one kid into a park… …he was lying on the floor…”

        You’ve been in China too long. :-)

        • 2-cents

          my english has gotten shitty too livinghere

      • very nice
        Comrade Boris

        I like what you wrote very much.

        Song of the Article

        I Need a Hero
        -Bonnie Tyler

  • Grammarian

    “…stabbed his mother Gu X who had come to pick him up consecutively 9 times.”

    Couldn’t she pick him up right the first time?

  • BoredAtWork

    It has little to do with being Chinese or not. Civil courage comes through education which is lacking in many parts of China. One of the many problems with incredibly fast growth is that the education (not just at school) isn’t inline with the type of problems that many face in the developed world. The response from onlookers varies from place to place. *IMHO*

  • dude

    I find it hard to believe that the guy stabbed his mom for money. On the other hand, Chinese bystanders unwilling to lend a hand hardly surprises me at all.

    • Bo Wang

      A mentally unstable spoiled only child. How’s this hard to believe?

      China is only a collective society when it comes to family and close friends. If you are just some random shitizen, coming to your aid is too much of a financial risk.

      • Anon

        Collective as in a ‘Mind Hive’ or just stagnant herd mentality?

        • Vakeesan

          He was referring to stagnant herd mentality, he he

          • Anon

            that ‘laff’ at the end of your reply confirms nothing . . . lol?

    • Pro term: xiao huangdi, or “little emperor”. This is what they look like when they’re semi-adult. Seems likely there were some mental instability and maybe passive-aggressive issues present in this fellow as well.

  • guobao2

    Honestly, I don’t know what I would do in a similar situation. I am a trained firefighter, search and rescue experience + triage and extensive first aid training. In my country there are laws requiring you to help in an emergency. If you don’t you risk up to 2 years in prison. Yet, after 3 years in China I feel I would definitely make sure my back was covered before rushing in. In a so-called communist country you’d assume hospitals were free, but since they aren’t and very few people have insurance and the average income is something like 2500 a month (nationwide), well you can’t really be surprised that some desperate individuals would be willing to go far to get out of a potential 6 digit hospital bill +missed income and a potential lasting debilitating condition.

    Still, I think I would find it virtually impossible to just walk away if I see no one else is stepping up. That’s just the way it is in my country where you are told to care for and help people in distress from since you could walk. Yes, I know the “fellow human beings” argument does not get you far in China, but still, I doubt I could just do an about face.

  • JLoc

    Wow I’m really surprised no one mentioned this. I took an ethics class once on helping people and a psychology class … I’m not sure which I learned this from… Most likely the ethics one but it states that usually when you’re around a lot of people you’re less likely to help because you kind of expect others to do it. Then the book stated many cases of this happening. I went to school in San Diego, California btw and all the cases of this happening were in America… Usually involving murder or something similar.

  • RotBot

    Americans have Kitty Genovese as the canonical parable about why you should provide aid to a stranger. The Chinese seem to have Peng Yu as the definitive example of why you should not.

    I’d be wary of using random anecdotes to characterize an entire people, though. There are plenty of examples of people in the West walking by someone dying in the street, too.

    Has anyone actually done a study on whether the bystander effect is stronger in any particular culture?

    • Jimmy

      Your overall point is a good one. But the Kitty Genovese case is not a good example as in the incident the bystander effect was shown to have been exaggerated in the original coverage.

  • Ethan JRT

    I’m not a big fan of the “Peng Yu” comments I’ve seen thrown around here, mainly because they seem to imply that the reason Chinese people tend to stay out of trouble at all costs, even if it includes failing to give aid to a stranger in need, stems from problems with the court system. (A thorough article on the Peng Yu case from DanWei:

    But as I mention in the link I posted up top, this issue was noted before Communist rule by Lu Xun – and, I don’t doubt, even before that. And it spans not only time but also systems of government and law: just across the the strait, Long Yingtai (龙应台) wrote about this very problem just a few years ago in one of her critiques of modern culture. “In Taiwan, what survives most easily isn’t the cockroach, but rather the ‘bad guy’: because the Chinese is fearful, and selfish. As long as the murder isn’t committed on his own bed, he would rather just close his eyes and feign sleep.”

    • Alikese

      Yeah, I think the Peng Yu comments are a cop out. They use it as a legitimate sounding excuse for why they wouldn’t go in to help, but in reality the reasons vary from fear to just not caring.

      • Yeah, it’s not like China was exactly crawling with Good Samaritans before 2006, is it?

        • anon

          No country was crawling with Good Samaritans when they were at the same level of economic development China is at today.

    • anon

      You don’t go far enough. The tendency for “keeping your head down”, “minding your own business”, “not getting involved”, and the like to become pervasive social norms tends to correlate with environments where life is hard, where “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. Those familiar with where that’s from should know why its applicable to what I’m saying here. Lu Xun was no different from many other scholars, intellectuals, philosophers, and the privileged and educated who likewise had scathing contempt for the problems of their societies, especially in the lower classes, those who had the least means and the most fragile of lives.

      Look around the world, in India, Southeast Asia, Africa, many parts of Latin America, Eastern Europe and you see the same social problems, where many people can’t afford to care too much for others if they’re to have any energy and resources left to care for themselves and their own. All of these places have good people, good samaritans, but most of the time, the majority act just like the Chinese here. When you live in such an environment, generation after generation, it becomes your modus operandi, and only through improving situations and time does this modus operandi change.

      You’d think in a place like Shanghai, at the international airport no less, that the people would be better, but I laugh when I think of all the airport workers still largely being local ayis there to push a cart around, the security being the same old grizzled guards that man the entrance to each residential complex smoking their cigarettes, and everyone still at best being only one generation removed from a China just beginning to emerge from its self-imposed isolation to begin walking the road of capitalism that will inevitably make some of their children, one day, as socially conscious as those of us here.

      We’re lucky to be contemptuous of the Chinese, even when our own social norms are far closer to their’s than our professed ideals.

      • Capt. WED

        Some Chinese people I know treat security guards like shit (maybe just migrant workers in general). I hate that.

      • Muay Thai guy

        Good comment, sometimes you (generally spoken) correctly assess a situation, but forget/ignore the underlying reasons. Reminding myself of that reality you described helps to feel a little less contempt for people acting that way.

      • Ethan JRT

        Good post. Food for thought.

      • Vakeesan

        Anon dude,

        “Look around the world, in India, Southeast Asia, Africa, many parts of Latin America, Eastern Europe and you see the same social problems”

        I have been to India, South East Asia and also to Africa. But incidents like above are less common there and no one will take a video of a mum being stabbed by her child 9 times and then post it on web. Also if you see bystanders were only making comments looking at the foreigner helping the lady. They should have atleast stepped in to help the lady seeing the foreigner helping her. It was really inhumane.

        I am from South Asia and if such an incident happens in my hometown we will first call for ambulance and then call the police because in the above incident the bystanders have clearly seen what happened and it can be explained to the police.

        • anon

          I don’t think they’re less common, I think you’re a victim to availability bias, even confirmation bias.

          No one took a video of the mother being stabbed. By the time the video was made, the kid had already left the scene. Read the reports. If you’re going to damn the person who made a video, you’re damning everyone else who has ever recorded a scene of tragedy or disaster, and those are everywhere in every country or have you not visited YouTube or watched the news before? I’m not saying people should choose making a video over trying to help but this is in no way a rare or unique phenomenon.

          Everywhere in the world, you see groups of bystanders outnumbering the people trying to do something. Why is this? Are they all inhumane? No, it’s because its often easy to hesitate and then rationalize inaction, especially when someone else has already gone forth. You let yourself off the hook, just like you let yourself off the hook when the police or paramedics arrive. It’s human nature, consistently confirmed around the world every day. Someone, a Chinese person, already called the paramedics and police, so it wasn’t as if no Chinese person did anything. Read the reports.

          As I commented yesterday, most of us sincerely believe we’d act differently, but in reality, most people don’t. And what’s worse, they won’t really it either. We value the identity we have for ourselves. We don’t like thinking of ourselves as bad people, so most of us have inflated and unmet expectations about our own behavior and potential reactions.

          No one like to hear it, but sorry, it’s true. There are more people who believe they’d be heroes than there actually are.

          • Muay Thai guy

            I don’t think I agree with this one. The kind of behavior you described in your first post is one of extremely suppressed people who live under a system that systematically killed off all sense of right and wrong (60s and 70s), a system where as a moral being you cannot win. It’s not just about poverty, it’s about a dysfunctional society and repressive system.

  • Sunshine

    Aside from the bystander issue, I often feel that there is something fundamentally flawed with how some Chinese parents bring up their children. I have seen my fair share of cases where the child takes the love and support from their parents for granted. Just yesterday, I watched a show where a 24 year old university graduate WITH a steady salary fought with his 60 some year old mom trying to leech more money out of her to pay HIS debt. His reason was that since he was her son, she is obligated to give him money, she is also obligated to take care of his child (who was birthed out of wedlock) while he and his girlfriend goes out to earn money and indulge in general young people activities like partying with friends. This is definitely not uncommon in China. It angers me to no end when 80’ers or 90’ers think that they’re entitled to their parents’ money in such a way. Admittedly this is one extreme case, however it is still centered around money.

    • Vakeesan

      Isn’t chinese society centered around money?

      • Sunshine

        Aren’t all societies centered around money?

        • Vakeesan

          All societies are not centered around money. We need money to take care of our basic needs, But money can’t buy everything and that’s beyond debatable. You can’t develop a greed for money and run after money.

          • anon

            There’s a reason why there’s a word for greed in every society, because greed can manifest itself in individuals of all societies. Don’t be a fool and try to fashion greed as being unique to certain societies but not others. It isn’t helpful.

          • Ryo

            Only people without (much) money say money can’t buy everything.

          • Vakeesan

            @ anon

            I am talking about the greed for money and i know there are different forms of greed and i come from a society or family that teaches me good values and not just teach me to earn money and think money is everything.

            @ Ryo

            Of course money can’t buy everything. Health, Peace, Happiness, Love can’t be got using money. I think you understand what i mean. Secondly i am a project manager, i own a house and also my mum and dad are also from a well off family and well educated. We are not brought up in a materialistic world, So we won’t stab our parents and ask money from them even when we are 24 years old.

          • anon

            What makes you think I wasn’t talking about the greed for money? There are plenty of people in China who come from families who also teach them that money isn’t everything. Your mistake is in thinking your family represents your entire society and certain Chinese families represent all of Chinese society. That’s just you choosing to validate your prejudices. It isn’t logical.

          • Sunshine

            I am going to refrain from replying to Vakeesan from now on because I feel like we’re going in circles every time I talk to him. I also have to dissect my post for him because he is always taking things out of context.

      • For China’s 2k years of history since Confucius was born, Chinese intellectuals were doing everything they could to bash the merchants. (In fact, in ancient China’s hierarchy, merchants ranked even lower than farmers and artisans) . Yet, China were still known for its merchants in the West for 2k years.

        When Mao took over, he did everything he could to destroy “capitalists”. While many in mainland China readily give up the morals and norms of the ancient teachings, they cannot give up being merchants and getting rich. And today China is again known for their capitalistic merchants (which many also served with the CCP).

        Hence, I had to agree Chinese really loves money and getting rich. ^^ but again, the same could be said about all nations, but I always find it odd how capitalism “always” survives in China despite the oppression.

  • Larry Smith

    In the United States there is a law that states that a person can not be sued for any reason for helping another person in a medical emergency. It is called the GOOD SAMARITAN LAW. No one has ever been convicted of a crime while helping someone in need. Chinese officials needs to take a look at this this law and enact it or something similar to it for Chines citizens. Many lives in the US are saved every year because of bystanders helping people in emergencies. There are FREE classes give in First Aid all over the country constantly. Suppose it was your brother, mother, father, son, daughter or sister laying dieing on the street wouldn’t you be grateful if someone helped them by say stopping them from bleeding to death (which is very simple to do) until an ambulance came to the scene. In stead of getting sued you might even get a reward as does happen many times in America.

    • bomber

      I think that America is a special case in this regard, and I think it has to do with the way America and American culture was formed. Despite the low level America has sunk to presently, in earlier times, when freedom reigned, people had a different outlook on their life and responsibilities.

      It sounds trite, but freedom isn’t free. Part of living in a free / liberty oriented society is the expectation that each individual has certain social responsibilities to live up to. Certainly, there are plenty of places in the states where people would just walk by and not help a stranger, but there are many places in which the community sentiment is strong, and helping another in need is done because if it was your mother, or father or brother, etc. you would want someone to help, too.

      I think the irony is that in the individualist society and culture, people are more inclined to help one another because if they don’t it will be their conscience that suffers, whereas in the collectivist / statist society, moral obligation is the venue of the state; people can more easily cast aside their personal moral choice because decisions of right and wrong are the state’s responsibility.

      • Chad

        Individualist societys tend to help one another? Um, have you been to the US? Watch a series called “What would you do?” Have you noticed in that in ultra individualist societies like the US, it’s seen as acceptable to put your parents in a nursing home ASAP? Most people don’t help others out no matter what kind of society you live in. Unless you’re in a small town because then people can shame you daily.

        • bomber

          I have not seen “What Would You Do” however I have a feeling that a TV program would not survive for long if it didn’t indulge the viewers’ voyeurism. I cannot accept a sensationalist, “reality” TV program as evidence in refutation of a claim.

          You might note my caveat at the beginning of the post:

          “Despite the low level America has sunk to presently, in earlier times,”

          America is fucked. fucked. I agree with your sentiment that Americans (er, most western nations) have (mostly the boomers and post-60s generation) completely shit the bed in every way possible. They have destroyed the culture, eradicated the family and embraced socialism and relativism. They wanted the benefits of freedom and personal choice without any of the responsibilities.

          My objective here isn’t to trash China. I have lived here for a long time, I speak Chinese, and have Chinese friends. I fundamentally don’t care if a criticism “hurts feelings.” Because at the end of the day, all Chinese people are individuals, and no collective guilt, i.e. “That’s just Chinese culture”or “It’s because foreigners don’t understand” or “Chinese people just do things that way” exonerates individuals from the fact that they have acted poorly or rudely, and conversely no good deed, noble act or heroic effort should be interpreted as “X person did something good, X person is Chinese, ergo China is a great country, has face, etc.”

          Just wait… Divorce rates are skyrocketing here. People who can afford to usually don’t live with their parents and in-laws (they buy them another apartment nearby) Selfishness does not discriminate on an ethno-linguistic basis. Give it 20 years and you will see the elderly being shoveled into retirement homes by the bus-load.

        • blackflagnation

          the US is a large country where the people are very transient, so it’s not that all folks choose to put their folks in nursing homes because they don’t care about their parents, but sometimes the only choice (parents refusing to move to where their children reside). for example, my family is completely spread apart – parents are in Georgia, oldest bro is in Illinois, 2nd bro is in Washington state, sister is in California, little bro is in South Carolina, and I’m in China – my parents have been invited by my sister and oldest bro to move to where they are, but my parents don’t want to live in those states. what do you do?
          I still say Americans as a whole try to help when they can. Interestingly enough, here’s news of just that from Atlanta:

    • Chris N.

      The first thing that came to my mind when thinking about China having rewards for people that actually do help people in need is people fighting over who is the one that did the helping and should receive the monetary reward.

      Does anyone else see this happening?

      • anon

        No, not really. There is no widespread or consistent system of positive and even economic reinforcement for good deeds. However, Japan seems to have one and is one reason cited for the relatively higher rates of lost and found items being reported to police.

    • ralphrepo

      A large but silent part of the problem too, is China’s one child policy. Over thirty years of it has basically reformed China from a very family oriented society into one of being a collective of individuals. Most Chinese growing up today will NEVER have a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, cousin, or other distant relative. The concept of those relations even, are absolutely alien to them. To nearly all Chinese there can ONLY be mom, dad, son OR a daughter in the family tree.

      In such a society, is it any wonder that people don’t feel connected to one another? What’s even more troubling today is reported suggestions that the Chinese populace has now grown so accustomed to the idea, that talk of loosening restrictions have met with negative public opinions; that is, Chinese have begun to socially accept and agree with what was once a politically expedient edict.

  • udl..

    damn, i wonder how china will become if there was a zombie attack..

    • If it was the rage virus, at least queues at ATMs would move quicker.

  • Jones

    Peng Yu…man I bet they let out a huge sigh of relief when they had this flailing, desperate attempt an excuse to toss out there every time to save face.

  • I would not hesitate to help a stranger in need here in Canada, but would not do so in China. In fact I used to be a First Responder with a non-profit organization here in Canada.

    Here in Canada we have Good Samaritan laws that protect first responders from prosecution. In helping a stranger in a time of need, you incur personal risk of lawsuit, criminal charge, assault and possibly infection from the victim. Individuals need to weight the benefits of helping a stranger with their personal risk. If someone feels the risk to their own safety is greater than the benefit from helping someone else, they will not help. I do not condemn others for not helping, as this is their personal decision.

    Canada, the US and other societies encourage people to help others by legally protecting those that help. It is not against the law in Canada (excluding Quebec) to not help someone else, but a personal decision. Other countries mandate by law that people assist others in need.

    I am not surprised that Peng Yu was convicted. Life in China is complex, police unethical and law is applied inequitably. Do not condemn those that feel the risk of help others is too great a burden for them to personally shoulder.

  • bobiscool

    It is at times like these, when NONE of the usual complaints about grouping “lao wais together” comes up…

    Those who usually make sarcastic remarks about how Chinese people group all foreigners together seem to be taking credit of the work that this particular “lao wai” has done, and starts blaming the Chinese for being inhumane or whatever.


    When lao wais do something bad, you blame the chinese for grouping all lao wai together, but when lao wais do something good, you take the credit yourself without caring what kind of a lao wai it is.

    The fact is, it’s one of the largest international airports in the world, and there are bound to be many foreigners, yet only one PERSON went to help the poor woman. The key here is person. It may very well have been a Russian, an American, a Canadian, a Japanese, a Chinese… does it really matter? Are you people so racist that you feel only Chinese should help Chinese, Russians help Russians, etc?

    • Ray

      I think the main point was that:

      “See, even the lao wai is helping (so nothing for or against the lao wai, just stating he/she is a different race), why are there no chinese people there helping an injured chinese person?”

      So it seems like that some chinese posters were angry (emo?) about their own race on the fact that chinese are not helping chinese, the fact that even another race helped and chinese still didn’t help is degrading to the chinese culture.

      • bobiscool

        I wasn’t talking about the Chinese posters; I was commenting on the ChinaSMACK posters.

        What you’re not getting, is the hypocrisy of the people who complain about how Chinese people lump all foreigners together when something unfavorable about foreigners appear, and ignore it when something good about foreigners appear.

        The very idea that all Chinese people are the same is plain idiotic. Just as you can’t lump all foreigners together, you can’t lump all 1.3 billion Chinese people together either.

        As far as it should be concerned, it doesn’t matter what race the person being stabbed is; nor does it matter what race the person helping is; race SHOULDN’T MATTER!

        • Chad

          You’re not new here are you? Most Chinasmack posters are extremely racist to the point that they don’t even realize it and are pretty much the scum of society. Excluding myself of course.

          • bobiscool

            No I’m not, I realize most people here are like that, but that doens’t stop me from wanting to change them. If even one person thinks that maybe they are wrong in being so racist, I’ve done what I wanted.

          • anon

            Many have come before you and many will come after you. But if it is of any comfort, I share your sentiments.

          • PeterScriabin

            @Chad April 13, 2011 9:42 am:
            Alas, bobiscool is not new here. It’s hard to make out the reasons for this latest rant, when there seems to be such a mix of opinions and perspectives here about the non-Chinese person who helped the stabbed woman, and about helping others in general.

            But, then, bobiscool doesn’t cite anyone in particular for hypocrisy, it’s just a hot-air vent – so maybe looking for “reasons” is overkill.

            The effort to generalize beyond the actions/situations of an individual, to those of the culture from which the individual hails, is always going to be there. It’s a matter of which generalizations are how-valid. Just saying that we’re all individuals, and you can’t generalize – gets awful dull/PC after a while. Don’t you think?

          • bobiscool


            It is hard to make out the reasons for your ad hominem attack, but alas, let me make clear what I was trying to say:

            I don’t have time to search up the names of the people who has commited this hypocrisy; should a reader of my comment doubt its truthfulness, they can go read the other comments themselves and decide.

            But it’s not about targeting any individuals; I’m not “ranting” or hating on any particular individual, after all, everyone has bad points, and probably everyone has good points (maybe even including you, Peter).

            It’s about revealing the hypocrisy in the inherently racist views of these people. In other words, the rant wasn’t targeting people, but the ideas that some people have.

            I’m not sure if you can understand this concept. You don’t have to attack people when you disagree with their opinions or actions.

          • anon

            Peter, I don’t think it gets awfully dull/PC after awhile. It’s the people who stick to these principles that have helped the West and Westerners become so much more “socially conscious” than the Chinese. Those who typically chafe at reminders to not generalize and stereotype do so because they don’t like being made uncomfortable about who they think they are. They don’t like feeling judged for judging others. They want to dictate who other people are but protect their own identity. Everything that is “good” about us is the product of those who sought better and stayed true in the face of those who told them they were awfully dull/PC.

          • PeterScriabin

            Regarding the ad hominem attack, it was because I have the impression that most of your posts are hot-air ranting, or vapid generalizations, not just the one we are talking about now. As you say, you are unable to offer any evidence for your claims.

            Lest I be accused of the same crime, let us, together, review the climax of your latest rant:

            it doesn’t matter what race the person being stabbed is; nor does it matter what race the person helping is; race SHOULDN’T MATTER!

            Who said race was a factor? Perhaps this will come as a shock to you, but “Chinese” is not a racial denotation.

            One of the central propositions being debated here is whether there are factors in Chinese culture or history that predispose Chinese people to intervene on behalf of strangers in need of assistance relatively less than those in some other cultures.

            Very few people (if indeed anyone) here are saying that all non-Chinese people always intervene, or that there is no bystander effect outside China. Very few people here are saying that Chinese people never intervene to help their neighbors (Nathan – April 13, 2011 6:32am actually cites an opposite case and argument).

            As far as I could tell most of the Chinese posters quoted at the top of the thread seem to think there is something amiss with their own culture. I realize you are not concerned with them (as you said above), but it seems clear there are far fewer such comments in our part of the thread, and generally a far broader range of views and evidence.

            I guess you and I should both have something better to do than this. I apologize if I came across as irritating, but I’m tired of hearing rants (yours and others) about people’s racism here, especially when there hasn’t been much (or any). It just detracts from the discussion and is basically irrelevant. Anyway, are you really hoping to bring even one “racist” around with your posts? Could you please think about that question, if nothing else much?

          • Chad

            I’ll agree that generalizations are somewhat fair sometimes like the one about how Chinese tend not to follow traffic laws compared to developed countries. But it’s not about being PC. A generalization about Chinese not helping others is kind of ridiculous considering A) people tend not to do that in any country with large cities and it’s a well-defined “phenomenon”, and B) these instances of stabbings/people needing medical aid/needing any kind of aid on the street are not exactly commonplace so any attempt to make a generalization like this is retarded since you cannot reasonably conclude anecdotally that one rare event is more common than another rare event in a society of a billion. B) is the main issue so it doesn’t matter if the people here aren’t labelling EVERYONE in China or they acknowledge that it happens in other countries too.

            It’s like saying that Chinese are more likely to get childhood cancers than non-Chinese without any statistics and explain it using the good ol cultural explanation of say… they eat more grilled foods. Sounds stupid right? And it is. Ironically, if you go on some Youtube videos of Chinese helping thief victims out on Youtube, you’ll see plenty of people talking about collectivist Chinese culture being the reason they like to help each other and how Americans wouldn’t do anything… and the people who comment are often Americans. It’s the same situation here. And Chinatown vigilantes do make the news around where I live sometimes, and the same type of reaction occurs- they help each other because they’re Chinese. So yeah, generalizing in either direction is stupid.

            It’s not about being PC, it’s about generalizing in a *reasonable* manner. Trying to justify your generalization using baseless cultural/historic explanations is not helpful.
            And you’re right, Chinese aren’t a race. Perhaps sinophobes or xenophobes in general would be the right description for a lot of folks around here. And this is a proper generalization because you’ll see insults/generalizations/mockery of the Chinese in so many articles here whether relevant or not.

          • PeterScriabin

            @anon – April 13, 2011 8:13:

            You are surely well-intentioned, and I have no argument with your perennial perspective here (though the Everything that is “good” about us… closer was wild!!) – as long as the facts are on your side (as they usually are, I believe).

            To help convey my perspective, and to stop anybody’s feathers getting too much more ruffled, let’s turn it around a bit. Suppose we westerners came up with a measure of a human attribute that we considered pretty darned important, and suppose we turned out to be higher on its scale than other cultures were. Then along came those darn Japanese, Koreans and Chinese, and scored much better on average than we did – on our own tests, remember.

            People begin their wretched stereotyping and generalizations about Asians. Now here come all the good anons of the world, to explain that it is because of their history and socio-educational practices, and perhaps even their genes, that they are so smart, and do so well on all manner of such intelligence- and education-related tests. “It is foolish to discriminate. All the facts can be explained away.”

            Well, yes, all the facts will one day be explained, no doubt – but let us not use people’s racism and stereotyping to deny facts, eh? I like the posts where you try to explain the facts rather than denying them.

          • bobiscool


            I wonder how much more shameless could you get.

            I never said I was unable to offer any evidence; the source is on this site. Even research articles do not need to quote from their sources everytime they extract information; they may simply refer to it in a bibliography or some such, and should people doubt the accuracy of their statements, read their resources themselves.

            My source and evidence is, again, right on this site for anyone to read. I’ve not hidden it; it’s right here.

            This may come as a shock to you, but just because you don’t use the word “race” to define a group of people such as the Chinese, doesn’t mean others don’t.


            The first definition of race, the one that’s used most often is not the biological one; it is based on ethnicity and culture.

            Keep hiding behind your sophistry; but you’ve got nothing but logical fallacies in your arguments.

          • anon

            Peter, if you can find one fact that I am denying, then we can discuss further. As it is, I don’t see how I am denying anything that is factual. In fact, I’d say I’m pretty darned consistent with what my position on AND approach to all the hot-button discussion topics here.

            Let me entertain your intelligence/education test example that you offered to convey your perspective. I’d say any genetic explanation is bollocks. I won’t deny that there are some people who are better at certain things than others but that’d be on an individual to individual basis, not something to be generalized and stereotyped as something inherently racial or ethnic. I’d say environmental factors are more important, that you can train people to do better in certain things if you, as a person, parent, community, or country put emphasis on it. China, like other Asian countries, do have a norm of emphasizing certain subjects or learning methods more so than other countries, but you’ll never hear me defend any suggestion that “A must be because they are B”. More importantly, it is even less likely that I’d make that mistake when it comes to any negative attribute, characteristic, or phenomenon being applied to a people as a whole.

            Most people let positive ones slide most of them, because we are generous with compliments and praise. This, I think, is as it should be, because even if it isn’t absolutely true, setting high expectations and a high bar to live up to rarely results in anything bad. However, negative ones are not the case. Talking about negative things can be constructive, but it is important to be tactful, measured, and reasoned in our use of things that would tear others down or be used to merely uplift ourselves relative to others.

            People tend to return compliments when they get them. You compliment a Chinese person on their rote memorization and more often than not, you’ll get them talking about how it stunts creativity and critical thinking relative to Western kids. Positive things work well. It’s a good rule to be generous with positive things. Not so with negative things. It isn’t that we shouldn’t bring them up, but we should know how to bring them up in a constructive way, not in a self-serving way.

            I try my best to explain facts. If I deny anything, it is because I find something not factual. It’s best to examine what it is I am in disagreement with. It may very well be that something is factual but it is wrapped up, combined, interpreted, or otherwise remixed into something that is not factual.

            As an extra for your discussion with bobiscool, I just want to remind you that racism is used these days to apply to categorical prejudice and not just specific race. If we want to get really scientifically technical, there is no “black” race or “white” race either. They go by more specific terms where people we think of both being of the “white race” aren’t actually the same “race”. Just saying. I think it’d help if you guys just agreed with the modern definition of racism and went from there.

          • PeterScriabin

            @anon April 15, 2011 11:25 am: Regarding “find one fact that I am denying”:

            So, if you were cycling along, and were suddenly seriously injured by a motor-scooter traveling along the kerb against the legal traffic flow, would you rather be lying in the road in a Chinese city/town, or in your English city/town – strictly from the point of view of the time it takes to get life-saving assistance? (Please don’t waffle about official emergency services, we’re not talking about those).

            If you can honestly say: “gee, I’ve no idea/preference”, then do you assert that (1) cases like that of Peng Yu, (2) the differing educations of English and Chinese people regarding the advisability of assisting strangers, have had no effect on the situation? If so, why do you think that might be?

            This is the kind of “fact-denying” I am talking about. I am not talking about the mass of anecdotal evidence and testimony from all concerned, everywhere, that you (and Chad) are also denying, because this “evidence” is – strictly speaking – contentious.

            Incidentally, AFAIK, the site has been unavailable (at least to me!) for 2 days – that’s why this is a bit late arriving…

          • anon

            Peter, it is abundantly clear now that you’re not actually reading or processing what I’ve said and are, instead, arguing with a straw man, with what you think I’ve said. Please quote where I am denying any facts. I’m willing to engage in discussion with people who actually take the time to read and properly represent what I’ve said. You haven’t done that.

          • PeterScriabin

            @anon April 17, 2011 11:28 am:

            Your latest assertions are quite groundless and detract from my previous impression of you.

            I suggest you say what you mean more straightforwardly in future contributions. Fewer words, more honesty. There’s still time for you to state your true view of the issue plainly, as have I mine.

        • Chad

          But I’ll say there are some stereotypes that do hold true though. I mean defiance of traffic laws is almost universal in China (except maybe Shanghai). To stereotype that Chinese aren’t good samaritans is a bit much though considering most people (even foreigners *gasp*) are not good samaritans. What’s a bit amusing is people think this situation could only happen in China. I mean I thought the bystander effect was common knowledge.

          • PeterScriabin

            This post seems to offend on both sides of the line (mine, and Anon’s, you might say)!

            If you are arguing that there is something about Chinese people per se that makes them inconsiderate and unruly on the roads, then that is surely “racist” (you know, bobisranting racism). When Chinese people emigrate to other countries, they magically seem to start obeying traffic rules, and become as considerate of others as their hosts.

            But if you are saying that when you travel on Chinese roads now, you are taking your life in your hands in a way you are NOT, on an American road, then that is not a fucking stereotype, it’s a plain FACT. Why on earth is a partial generalization about the behavior of a group to be interpreted as racism (a la bobisachump)? It is either so, or it isn’t.

            I submit that the assertion that on average today’s mainland Chinese people are less apt to stop and assist strangers in need than people in certain other countries is also a hypothetical (candidate) statement of fact. I don’t know if it is an actual statement of fact, because – as bobisajerk correctly said – the basic research has not been scientifically done yet. However, it is churlish to deny that the anecdotal evidence is strong.

            Now, if someone in bobisadink’s worst dreams parlays this into a statement about the immutable Chinese character – then, of course, it would be “racist”. Anon will rightly descend from his cloud, and correct the racist nonsense.

            Let me close by asking a simple question, so you – the reader – can test yourself in relation to what I am saying.

            Why is the proportion of black people in the basketball and football leagues WAY higher than in the surrounding populations? Are you ready to consider whether this is due to immutable features of black people, or whether there are relatively short-term genetic or cultural reasons? Or are you the kind of person who will deny the SIMPLE FACT, and waffle about racism and stereotypes?

          • Chad

            Wow, Peter. Read my post again. You’re making up my arguments for me.

            A hypothetical statement of fact is nothing without actual evidence to back it up, especially when such situations aren’t common in the first place. Anecdotal evidence is strong? Um, anecdotal evidence is NEVER strong in a population of a billion unless you’ve met a heck of a lot of people. I think you’ve just let everyone know that you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about quite frankly.

            As I said, I’ve met people who strongly think (based on anecdotal evidence) that Chinese tend to help each other out and explain it by saying it’s because they’re collectivist. That also doesn’t mean a thing. Why? Because anecdotal evidence means crap when you’re talking about such large samples. It’s like saying Toyotas are unreliable because yours broke. That every Toyota in your neighbourhood broke. You still need large surveys to determine that, which you admit that THERE ISN’T.

            If the proportion of black people in basketball is higher, I would expect to see that in the statistics, and we do. There’s no problem with that. If people want to explain it using culture/genetics, they can do that as long as there’s supporting evidence, not just hypotheses you came out with one morning. It’s when people start pulling out crazy generalizations out of their rear end that I have a problem with.

            I have no problem with being “non-PC”, but people need to stop making stuff up without any grounds. And no, anecdotal evidence on a population of a billion is NOT grounds.

    • Vakeesan

      These are the things that make me sick, Chinese don’t help Chinese. Who was the dumbass who took the video? So selfish.What will they do if a foreigner is attacked by someone and he/she is bleeding? May be keep watching him till he die and post this on youku and next time it will be a news in chinasmack. Materialistic society/ Educations that lack moral values and only teach people how to be selfish.

      I have seen similar incidents in beijing and chengdu also and i hope this will change.

      • bobiscool

        it’s not a matter of chinese don’t help chinese; it’s a matter of people not helping people.

        go anywhere in the world, the same is bound to happen, especially if the person with the knife is still nearby.

        • Vakeesan

          Don’t just bluntly say it happens everywhere, Are you going to argue with me and say this incidents happens everywhere and especially in the airport. Come on dude. It seems like the guy and girls were more interested in taking a video of the lady bleeding rather than calling for ambulance or police. So inhumane

          • anon

            Sorry, it really only needs to be said that it does happen everywhere because it does. It’s ignorance on your part if you fail or refuse to acknowledge that. This is like saying indifference doesn’t happen everywhere, on par with people not scratching their asses when it itches.

          • Vakeesan

            @ anon

            Tell me one incident like this that happened in any airport outside of china

          • anon



            Just run a search for “airport stabbing” and go through the results. If you want more violent crimes occurring at airports, change your search terms appropriately. Try “airport violent crimes” or “airport murder”. You get the idea. Don’t be a fool, do you need someone to teach you how to find reports of bystanders, of people standing around doing nothing, not getting involved? Search for “bystander effect”. There are some useful links to entries on Wikipedia below too.

          • Mercator


            A spokesman for Essex Ambulance Service said the victim was treated by a paramedic based at the airport within four minutes of the incident occurring.


            Other passengers subdued the man until police arrived, Martel said.

            Nothing in any of the 3 articles about people standing around and not helping.

          • anon

            Mercator, follow what I wrote. I offered examples of “airport stabbings”. That is what I wrote, right? I also offered search terms if Vakeesan wants to find examples of bystander effect. There is no lack of comparable incidents where violent crimes have occurred in places where there are a lot of people with the majority of the people being bystanders. There is no lack of comparable incidents where someone was gravely injured and the majority stood by while only one person went forward.

            Let me offer you a fairly recent and particularly memorable one:


            Here we had a son who suddenly flipped our and stabbed his mother in a busy arrival terminal while everyone else was either on their way somewhere or looking for someone they’re supposed to welcome out of the gates. The person who filmed the scene began long after the kid had already fled the scene. Other Chinese people had already called the police and paramedics.

            I’d say that’s a bit better than a crowd gathering around a gang rape, with many of the people in the crowd having been CALLED by others to come see, none of them calling the police, some joining in. I’d say that’s better than a woman being sexually assaulted in a busy bar on a pool table.

            Do you know how long it took for the paramedics to arrive? Do you know how many other passengers didn’t participate in subduing the stabber in the SF airport example?

            Do you really need me to analyze various incidents and give you a rundown of every outrageous and damning detail to prove the point that this shit has happened and is liable to happen everywhere?

            The motivation behind the insistence of pigeonholing an incident like this as being unique to China or the Chinese is the insistence upon justifying one’s prejudice. “This doesn’t happen anywhere else” becomes “this doesn’t happen in any other airports” becomes “this doesn’t happen …” ad nauseum. When we have equally outrageous and worse incidents happening everywhere in the world, what is the point of characterizing this as Chinese? Does that mean bloody violence in public don’t happen elsewhere? That the vast majority of people remain bystanders elsewhere?

            No, the insistence of labeling this as Chinese has everything to do with the desire to feel oneself and one’s own better than others. That’s a sorry state to be in.

          • Frank

            If this is a scrum to offer examples…

            Not an airport but an enclosed subway train car where its less likely people didn’t notice what was happening. No one intervened on the train car, or when the victim was on the platform continuing to get beat, even with a 5-year-old child there. The victim had to go to the hospital himself. No one called emergency services.

            I suppose the excuse here would be that subways are obviously more dangerous than airports and it is only in China airports where sons can lose their minds and stab their mothers.

            But I don’t think that would be very meaningful.

            Vakeesan, what South Asian country are you from? Maybe you can ask anon to find some examples of violence in public spaces with people not doing anything. Would that shut you up? As anon has so helpfully illustrated many times here, anything can be found on the internet to put misguided people in their place.

          • Vakeesan

            @ anon

            The links given by you are not going to support the argument, If you see my post i was not only talking about the stabbing but also about the things that happened after the stabbing

            1) When the lady was stabbed 9 times there were people watching
            2) When she fell down and was bleeding, No one is ready to help
            3) There is no one else who wants to go near her even after the stabbing happened ( you can notice this in the video)
            4) A laowei was there to offer mental strength or temporary support and the people can only take a video of this
            5) This whole incident happened in an international airport, Don’t they have any armed police or security guys in the airport or someone who knows first aid. Normally all international airport has paramedics, What are they doing after the stabbing happened?

            The situation, The way people reacted to the was entirely different and that was due to lack of responsibility or a don’t care thinking that thank god it wasn’t me or it’s not my mother so why we should worry and certainly not diffusion of responsibility or by stander effect

            @ Frank

            We don’t have airport stabbing incidents in my country, We had a civil war in our country that was lasting for years but now there is peace

          • anon

            Sorry, you’re beyond redemption. I’ll sum up. There have been incidents around the world and not only in China where:

            1) people have been repeatedly attacked in front of others and no one did anything,
            2) people have then collapsed or fallen down without anyone being there ready to help them,
            3) the vast majority of people not wanting to go near the victim,
            4) where other people remained bystanders or even took pictures or videos,
            5) cops or paramedics take some time to arrive on the scene.

            There have been countless incidents involving all 5 of the above. It happens, not only in China, not only amongst Chinese people.

            You are willfully being stubborn making arguments unsupported by the record. Especially #5. Have you considered that the cops and paramedics simply haven’t arrived yet? You do understand that it takes time. At a gang brawl in an airport in Australia, the fight went on long enough without the cops arriving before someone was beaten to death. You can criticize response times, but you have no information about how long it took for the paramedics to arrive. What you do have here, though, is information that the paramedics had been called by a Chinese person.

            No one is disagreeing with you over the fact that a foreigner went forward to tend to the unconscious mother whereas the surrounding Chinese did not.

            What I’m disagreeing with you is your suggestion that this is something to do with being Chinese, that being Chinese means you don’t care about others, that you “lack responsibility”. That’s not the case as there have been many other incidents where Chinese people have acted. Look for the stories on this very site. Look for the Chinese helping other Chinese against thieves. Look for the Chinese students who risked and sacrificed their lives to save some children in a river. In every case, when there is multiple people, the majority of the people remained bystanders. That’s true in China as it is true everywhere else. That’s a human phenomenon, not a Chinese phenomenon and it is evident you don’t understand what diffusion of responsibility or bystander effect entails. You trying to pin it on the Chinese is you being an asshole. How tragic it is that you have the shamelessness to try arguing and defending such a ridiculous prejudice in the face of what should be common sense.

            Do you know why these incidents where people failed to help become news in China? Because they’re shocking to Chinese people. Do you know why they’re shocking to Chinese people? Because they too believe those who need help should get help. Because in daily life, most of the time, that’s what happens. But you don’t remember them, you don’t put that in the news, because it isn’t shocking, because that is what is expected. The stuff that makes the news is failure to act and heroic sacrifice. Simply helping rarely makes the news, because it is commonplace. The mere fact that this makes the news should help you understand that the opposite is the rule and this is the exception. The news reports and we take notice of the exceptions, not the norms. It is from there that those predisposed to prejudice begin taking the exceptions as the norms. That’s what you’re doing and that’s disappointing.

          • Vakeesan

            @ anon

            Dude you don’t really have anything else to do. Seems like scribbling on Chinasmack is your full time job.

          • anon

            What’s your excuse?

    • Jones

      Whooooa someone is jealous.

      • bobiscool

        And what am I jealous of, exactly?

        Your inability to think up a more intelligent response?

        Your inability to argue without resorting to ad hominem attacks?

        Or your unfounded racist beliefs?

        • Jones

          Probably my sense of security.

          haha umad

    • dim mak

      This is just one laowai in the right place at the right time
      The average laowai is a total dick

      Your feelings have been soothed

      • Vakeesan

        You seemed so insecured mate. Cool down

    • rollin wit 9’s

      not racist bobby but the idea is this:
      2010 statistics state that Shanghai airport(s) were not even in the top 30 for busiest airports by international passenger traffic . In 2006, Shanghai airport(s) were in the 29th spot. (approx. 40% of the 2010 data).
      This alone should be more than enough data to assume that the majority of people around at the time of the incident were most likely Chinese. Thus, a Chinese should have helped!

      • bobiscool

        Unforunately your statistics (if they’re even reliable) do not show anything you’re trying to say.

        But even saying that there are more Chinese people in the airport, which is likely, that doesn’t really say much;

        Now, this is what you should understand; If it’s not racism, it doesn’t even matter what race they are!

        The title of this should’ve been “women stabbed at an international airport, only one person helped”. That’s not racist.

        Saying that Chinese people actually have more of a responsibility to help another Chinese person than a foreigner does is just racist.

        Given, I am saddend by the apathy of many Chinese people, to be sure, but I can’t say that non-Chinese people are superior. Only one person went up to help the lady, it doesn’t reflect well on foreigners either.

        What would support the statements here, is if a flock of foreigners helped, and chinese people just sat back and watched.

        • rollin wit 9’s

          I agree with you on the title. And saying that there were more Chinese people in the airport says a lot. I’m not saying a Chinese person was more likely to help because that depends on a lot of other variables from person to person.

          The reason this reflects bad on Chinese is because it is a continued behavioral pattern. If it were to happen again tomorrow we would find out that dozens of Chinese just stood by and watched for some time before someone arrive to give aid.

          Regarding the statistics, I’m just saying that as long as this did not happen in the international terminal (prior to exiting customs) we can safely assume there were bound to be more Chinese around. So it’s just a matter of figuring out the ratio but guaranteed their were more chinese to foreigners so given any group of bystanders/ employees that were ‘able’ to help – that individual would have most likely been chinese rather than non-chinese.

  • rollin wit 9’s

    I’d hate to see what happens to an injured CHN soldier on the battlefield!! esp. when this so called peng yu syndrome is still fresh in the minds.
    Seals & Marines yell out: “no one gets left behind”
    Chinese soldiers yell out: “leave xiao peng behind” (in chinese of course ^^,)

  • John Wayne

    I applaud the foreignor for his actions ; ) I am assuming they will execute the son for his attempted murder on mom? Hang ’em!!

  • Larry Smith

    My point is wouldn’t you be more inclined to help someone if you knew that you would not or could not be sued for everything that you own. I am not talking about Americans helping Chinese and no Chinese helping. I am talking about people helping people no matter their nationality.

    By the way how many of you could save your daughters/son’s life if he or she was to fall down on a broken bottle on the street and cut an artery. You can’t just hold onto it as blood will spurt out of the wound very forcefully or would you just scream for someone else to help you. Take responsibility and learn some basic life saving techniques. It can be controlled by applying a clean cloth with direct pressure, elevation and applying pressure at a pressure point. Just that simple and if all else fails apply a tourniquet. That will have to be in a certain way that you can only learn from proper training.

    To answer another poster. People in America do certainly do walk on by without helping for lack of knowing what to do or not wanting to get involved but I would be willing to bet that the chances of someone helping you in America is far grater than in China because of the good samaritian law.

  • Foreign Devil

    It seems all to convenient to blame your lack of wanting to help an injured person on ONE SINGLE very bizarre and extraordinary case in Nanjing. . out of millions of such incidents that happen every year.

    • anon

      Why? That’s exactly what everyone in the world does. Certain cases always serve as guiding examples, like Kitty Genovese. Just using common sense alone, we can conclude that far more cases of people having helped and not gotten burned for doing so in China than getting burned. However, it can’t be denied that there have been quite a few well-known cases where people have helped and gotten burned for it, and that it is entirely understandable why these well-known cases would stick in people’s minds and influence their behavior. Good Samaritan laws are passed precisely because of this fact, that the few but well-known bad instances have begun affecting widespread social behavior.

      Here’s another way to look at it: It seems all too convenient to blame your prejudices against certain groups of people based upon individual instances that stand out in your memory, out of millions of other instances that happen all the other times, and yet people make the same defense and argument here all the time, right?

      Same psychological mechanism at play. To damn others saying it is “all too convenient” is to damn oneself when one does likewise.

  • joebob

    At least they called for the medics immediately. I’ve seen bystander effects on the east coast of the US where 10 minutes go by and no one even bothers to call for help when a man is lying on the ground.

    And what is the point of going over to the woman and touching her? Don’t touch her unless you have something you can do. Otherwise, you’re the only jackass with no self control trying to seek attention in front of a million cameras.

  • Adjutant

    This reminds me of a survey in which most men would not help a lost child because he might be mistaken as the child’s kidnapper or be branded a pedophile.

    This sort of fear is very real. However, I do not know if I would make the comparison here. After all, a stabbed woman on the floor is on a whole ‘nother level. Especially if you witnessed the stabbing before your eyes.

  • bunny99

    The Nanjing Judge’s “common sense” seems to have caused so much trouble for Chinese people.

    According to the responses of Chinese netizens posted here, this Judge appears to be to Chinese society what the Fukushima nuclear power plant is to Japan – a slow poison.

    China needs a “Good Samaritan Law” to undo the damage apparently done by this Judge.

  • PRC

    lol, only dumb ppl would help and get involved in such things.

    the person who calls for the ambulance has to pay for it and the medical fees.

  • Well, for those who hurry to claim that not giving help has something to do with Chinese character – learn about the classic case of Kitty Genovese (which gave the birth to the whole spectrum of studies on diffusion of reponsibility):

    … a young woman was stabbed to death in the middle of a street in a residential section of New York City. Although such murders are not entirely routine, the incident received little public attention until several weeks later when the New York Times disclosed another side to the case: at least 38 witnesses had observed the attack–and none had even attempted to intervene. Although the attacker took more than half an hour to kill Kitty Genovese, not one of the 38 people who watched from the safety of their own apartments came out to assist her. Not one even lifted the telephone to call the police

    • Here you can read more about this case

      • Vakeesan

        @ Crystal

        I just read the wikipeidia link you posted, The incident took place in 1964 and it didn’t happen in the airport and also it took place in the early morning. Please read the whole story in the link before jumping into conclusions.

      • Polly Pollyanna

        Crystal I beat all of you on the Kitty Genovese link by nearly a day.

        don’t you read the posts above?

        north america is full of deranged serial killers and violence, mostly due to severe psychological disturbances caused by how we’ve chosen to order our society and repress certain personality traits and/or instincts in order to maintain said order for the benefit of an entrenched establishment/ruling class/oligarchy.

        and don’t think it’s not happening in the harmonious PRC.

        Youtube “The Century of the Self”

        • Now, you only need to look few comments down to see what I said about this type of reasoning – classic “Situational vs. Personality Judgment” (or in simple language – “double standard”).

          Bad Americans are exception. Bad Chinese is rule. Right? ;-)

          • Polly Pollyanna

            i never said that

            how about: strident, obstinate, aloof and pompous?

            if you want me to nail it down to words – but that only goes for the ultra-nationalistic ones – the ones that recognize what the rest of the world has to offer to help china continue to develop into a 1st world country are not at all like this. i shudder to think what happens to environmentalists and human and animal rights activists in china – they are doing the moral thing, they are attempting to drag the entire civilization into what is supposed to be a more humanistic time.

            look, there is an exhibit in Beijing right now on The Enlightenment, yet the paintings were carefully selected and essential concepts like human dignity and freedom of expression were basically discarded.

            there is ONE paragraph written about the cultural revolution in the entire 2million square foot museum.

            you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.

    • Adjutant

      From the Wikipedia article you are quoting:

      The lead is dramatic but factually inaccurate. None of the witnesses observed the attacks in their entirety. Because of the layout of the complex and the fact that the attacks took place in different locations, no witness saw the entire sequence of events. Most only heard portions of the incident without realizing its seriousness, a few saw only small portions of the initial assault, and no witnesses directly saw the final attack and rape in an exterior hallway, which resulted in Genovese’s death. Additionally, after the initial attack punctured her lungs (leading to her eventual death from asphyxiation), it is unlikely that she was able to scream at any volume.

      Perhaps, you should have read the whole thing before arriving to an incorrect deduction about the actual events of the case you are citing as evidence.

      • anon

        Forget Kitty Genovese. Her case has merely become synonymous with the idea of people not acting in the face of others in distress. It is because a lot of people are familiar with it and what it became known for that people mention the name.

        “The authors of the article suggest that the story continues to be misrepresented in social psychology textbooks because it functions as a parable and serves as a dramatic example for students.”

        Arguably, the Nanjing Peng Yu case has also become a parable and serves as a dramatic example for many Chinese.

        One need only look at that page to acknowledge Crystal’s point that not giving help has nothing to do with _Chinese_ character.

        Here’s another:

        So pointing out to Crystal that she may be wrong about the facts of the Kitty Genovese case is one thing, but it is in total disregard to the very reason she was invoking it.

        • I agree with your correction.
          My argument would be more refined if from the very beginning I’d point out the phenomenon itself rather than specific case.

          And as you noted, it’s curious how the similar misrepresentation occurs with Nanjing case when people continuously refer to implying that this is the norms of Chinese behavior.

      • There are many interpretations of Kitty Genovese’s case including versions of “accusers” (which I cited) and “defenders” (which you cited).

        I referred to it only because this case was the most famous and gave the beginning to the whole new body of research in social psychology called “diffusion of responsibility”.

        And this phenomenon is more important than any specific case.

        There are hundreds of documented cases when people (ESPECIALLY in crowded places) could for long time not notice that someone fell down, had heart attack or lost consciousness, and sometimes would die because help wasn’t provided in time.

        Just because most of research on this topic was made in U.S.A. – should I make conclusion that American are heartless people?
        No, this is a human-beings phenomenon and has nothing to do with China or America or any other country.

        This is what I try to bring up.

        • Polly Pollyanna

          at least the Americans have the good sense to actually sit down and say:

          “Now why did this happen?”
          “Can we understand this?”
          “Let’s write it all down and publish it in a peer reviewed journal.”

          THAT is the sign of a powerful and polite (well it was, anyways) empire.

          I’m sure Palin/Bachmann ’12 will shred any funding for any research anywhere for anything.

          • Well, isn’t ChinaSmack a Chinese site bringing to you these news, that are intensively reviewed by “peers” that are very sympathetic to China :)

            But I am sure that it’s always possible to come up with another argument stating that “my poop doesn’t smell as bad as yours”.

          • Polly Pollyanna

            i didn’t know china had such a vibrant psychological/sociological research community. you’re all reading Marcuse now, mmm?

            i’m sorry i’ve offended your delicate sensibilities.

            nationalism is a massive waste of time – haven’t you read about the 30s and 40s?

          • Are we degrading to the arguments of the type:
            “So what? Anyway, we are better… cause… cause… err… cause our cars are bigger!!”

        • Wondering

          When I was in grade school, we all had to watch a movie about Kitty Genovese and discuss how society had failed her and how we must never, ever let such a thing happen again. It was all over the news for years. They (the media, the government, the schools) successfully inoculated much of my generation against this behavior, and we have passed those beliefs on to our children, more or less. I could never walk past and let a preventable tragedy unfold – not in the US, not in China.

          The same thing could happen in China, but it would take a concerted effort to make that self-awareness and personal responsibility take root. I don’t think it just happened in the US. We’re not inherently better people.

    • Ethan JRT

      Kitty Genovese is “classic” in the sense that it is the classic example of diffusion of responsibility – not in the sense that is the norm for behavior in America. You can disagree with the latter if you will, but I have never seen anything that would support your case. On the other hand, even some of the more level-headed folks who have commented here – I’m ignoring the racists, as should you – have come to feel that the norm in China IS diffusion of responsibility (or simply lack of responsibility), and have described experiences, referenced laws, and quoted social commentators to back up their views.

      If you’re convinced that these norms do not vary between countries, then you’ll have to offer something on a different level than Kitty Genovese.

      • anon

        I think you’re ignoring what Crystal set out to do, who she’s addressing: “for those who hurry to claim that not giving help has something to do with Chinese character ”

        She’s explicitly addressing the racists and those who in their hurry suggest that this is a norm amongst Chinese people, rather than discussing how this has seemingly become a norm in China itself. There’s an important distinction there.

        Would be interested to see which of the commenters you’re referring to as being more level-headed and are referencing laws or social commentators to back up their views. I don’t question that people are bringing in experiences but they tend to share them in language that shows their disregard for availability bias, that negative things are more easily recalled than all the positive things. For example, would you doubt it if I said every day in China, far more people help others in need without getting burned than those who help and then get burned?

        We can discuss the reason for norms, but it isn’t useful when so many are saying the reason has something to do with simply being Chinese. I think that’s what Crystal is responding to.

      • By the way, Ethan – it’s quite interesting that your argumentation is an excellent illustration of another psychological paradox.
        Something known as “situational judgment vs. personality judgment” – or to put simply – “Why do we judge others harsher than ourselves”.

        You read few juicy stories that happened in China vs. few other juicy stories that happened in America or Europe.

        In China’s case you easily conclude that these cases are a proof of China’s (or Chinese people’s) bad personality.
        While in America’s/Europe’s cases you find them to be rather exceptional and rare – and will ask your opponent to bring more serious statistical evidence.

        Double standard or prejudice, huh? ;-)

        • Ethan JRT

          @ Crystal (and, to an extent, Anon),

          Have you taken the time to look through the comments posted here? I realize that this thread has gotten very long, but it’s a worthwhile read.

          Leaving aside for a second the many stories that might be affected by “situational judgment,” we also have:
          1. Ordinary Chinese people sharing what we’ll call the “中国人怕事” view of their own society. See the story of the science investigator beaten by men with hammers, posted in the Blogspot link in my comment up top. (I can’t access it now because my internet’s being wishy-washy and I’m having trouble logging onto VPN.)
          2. Chinese social commentators sharing this view of their own society. I paraphrase 鲁迅 in the same Blogspot post, and quote 龙应台 somewhere in the middle of this thread.
          3. Legal precedent: the Peng Yu court case in China (mentioned several times here); Good Samaritan laws in the U.S.

          And now let’s get back to those who have commented – not about the sensational stories they’ve read about online, which I agree is unproductive, but rather about their own experiences in China. (Several have been posted in this thread; I’m not going to take the time to pick them out for you if you haven’t bothered reading it yourself.) These experiences are then contrasted with the same person’s, well, lack of this sort of experience in America. Again, this is a small sampling, but relatively consistent.

          No one asked you for “serious statistical evidence,” which I haven’t seen anywhere in the over 200 comments on this thread. (Netizens are great, aren’t we? :-p ) What I did ask you for was something – anything – that would speak to the norm in one country or in both (as opposed to entirely isolated examples), a requirement that I believe to be fulfilled by the legal/social/anecdotal-comparative examples I’ve listed above.

          I love China. I’ve met plenty of fantastic Chinese. I’m renting an apartment here. I’m spending every day studying the language so that I can communicate more fluidly. My girlfriend is Chinese. I don’t approve of the government and I would probably be too concerned about the environment and about food oversight to let my children grow up on the mainland, but I do plan on spending a good portion of my career here. Thus I’m not concerned that I am prejudiced – at least, not that I believe in something innately “bad” about the Chinese character.

          But since we seem to be in the business of serious psychoanalysis now, I’m going to posit that, as Chinese yourself, your disregard for all of the above information might be a manifestation of “confirmation bias.”


          P.S. Specifically @ Anon: I understand some of what you’re saying, but the distinction between “a norm amongst Chinese people” vs. “a norm in China itself” is totally unclear to me; are you trying to distinguish between nature and nurture – i.e., between some kind of innate, biological proclivity (which I don’t think anyone here is arguing for), and a reaction cultivated by society?

        • anon

          Ethan, you’re going to find more experience about snooty French waiters in a blog post about bad service at a French restaurant just as you’re going to find more experience of Chinese bystanders in a blog post about Chinese bystanders at an airport stabbing. It’s self-selective.

          You go on a blog post about similar bystander effect incidents in other countries and you’re going to find lots of people sharing their experiences of similar in that country (as well as lots of people damning the bystanders and professing they would’ve acted).

          The key here is to identify the cognitive biases that are producing this sample of comments before taking them at face value, making hasty generalizations, reinforcing prejudices.

          I write this in another comment, but educated people who take a moment to consider the reaction of people and media in this case would be forced to conclude that it is NOT the norm. If not helping were the norm, it wouldn’t likely make the news. It wouldn’t likely cause the outrage or feelings of shame and cynical embarrassment. It’d be “meh”. We react to the what is not normal, not to what is normal and expected.

          If bystander effect is a norm in China, I believe the sum total of even anecdotal evidence suggests conclusively that it is actually a “norm” around the world. Google search: “Bystander effect”.

          Ethan, unlike the other guy named Ethan here, based on what I recall of your record of comments, you are indeed one of the more level-headed people here (but you were the only person to mention social commentators, and really, there are notable social commentators in every society and age that say the same things as Lu Xun about the society they lived in), and that makes discussion with you rewarding. I’ve agreed with things you’ve said, but I also disagree with some of the things you say. I believe some of your conclusions don’t consider what should be considered.

          I have no issue with people discussing phenomenon in China. I have issues when we foreigners who fashion ourselves so enlightened, so educated, with such critical thinking skills compared to the Chinese allow ourselves to cross the line into unintelligently suggesting and then stubbornly arguing that such phenomenon are manifestations of racial, ethnic, or nationality makeup when such a conclusion is unsupported by fact or reason. There are people who say “this happens in China” and then there are people who say “this happens only in China”. Many people who say the latter, when confronted, will retract their statement and acknowledge overstepping. Unfortunately, many don’t and cling to their prejudices trying to justify and rationalize their belief and comments.

          I know you say such people should be ignored, and I’m sure you know that that’s everyone inevitably does ignore such people to some extent. But there are times and places where people will react to them and it is not without merit that they do. Discussions online or offline and social activities. It’s normal and a good thing that people push back against what they believe to be wrong, offensive, or unhelpful in accordance with their values.

          • Ethan JRT

            This will be my last post on this topic. And I’ll try to make it succinct.


            1. I admit a certain self-selection bias. I just don’t think it’s nearly enough to account for the uniformity of the relevant experiences that have been shared here, not to mention my own experiences and the experiences of others shared with me in conversations totally unrelated to this type of news item.
            2. We react to many actions that are “expected” – for example, those that we see as evil or shameful – and this is even more true if we rarely encounter them. I think that you will agree with me on this point, but that you made a leap of logic to conclude that the media would not cover a common response to a rare event. I disagree: the type of event in question (a brutal attack, accident, etc, especially if caught on tape) is clearly still rare enough to receive plenty of coverage, as (by extension) is the audience’s response (again, especially if caught on tape), even if that response is the norm under the precondition that the event occurred in the first place. Scenes of mourners for plane/car-crash victims is standard on the news whenever a large-scale tragic event occurs; the reason people don’t make that particular reaction the focus of coverage is because nobody thinks it’s evil or shameful.

            3. I don’t think that what you, Crystal and a few others have been arguing against is the view that the Chinese are rotten to the core – or if you have, there’s no need. If you admit the existence of the phenomenon, then we can start talking about the many, many societal factors that may have brought it about, and I wouldn’t even dare to venture into that discussion. But reasons aside, I feel that the main reason for you and others on this thread denying the phenomenon is an instinctive feeling that making any sort of cultural generalization without ‘scientific evidence’ (a whole ‘nother can of worms in the social sciences) is racist. I find that… well… wishy-washy, unhelpful, and even a bit anti-intellectual. [See further discussion on the overall topic of generalizations here. Full disclosure: I disagree with the general sentiment behind the post, and commented, rather forcefully, to that effect.]

            That said, I will grant you one thing: I’ve definitely noticed a disturbing amount of people saying that “this only happens in China,” which unless they’ve traveled the world extensively I think is a bit of a leap. And since, as Tolstoy points out, we all feel that praise should be mutual, I’ll end by adding that while I’m unimpressed with some of your views, I’ve found others to be good food for thought and at any rate I’ve appreciated your level head.

          • anon


            1) It is definitely self-selection, and don’t just limit it to this blog post or this site as a whole which, despite having plenty of “positive” posts, is well-known for its more tabloidy “negative” content. Expand it to foreigners in China, or foreigners who have extensive experience in China. If you were in a group of people who are discussing bystander effect in a non-Chinese incident in say, America, the chances of someone talking about Chinese bystander effect corresponds with the number of commenters who have been in China and had vivid memories of bystander effect there. That’s self-selection. What I’m pointing out is to be careful with attaching too much weight to anecdotal evidence provided in a self-selected group. I’m not advocating that no weight be attached to anecdotal evidence, but one has to be careful.

            2) Technically, we “react” to everything, not just the “unexpected” but I hope you understand what I mean. I’m saying that we tend to have a correspondingly stronger reaction to unexpected things than expected things. I believe things we see as “evil” or “shameful” are “unexpected”. We don’t live our lives always expecting people to do evil or shameful things all the time and instead expect them not to most of the time. Hence, when they do something that is evil or shameful, it jumps out at us.

            I don’t think I made a leap in logic at all, to be honest, but I am willing to clarify and elaborate or ask if you misinterpreted something I wrote. I didn’t say that the media would not cover “a common response to a rare event”. I wrote above ” the reaction of people and media in this case” and by that I mean that the very reaction of the media to this news (covering it) and the very reaction of the people to this news (being outraged, embarrassed) shows that it is not the norm.

            I was never suggesting that the news would not show scenes of mourners. I was saying that the news would not typically cover mundane events, such as someone helping another unless it involved atypical risk or sacrifice. You seem to agree with me that they cover rare events and that’s exactly the point I was conveying. I totally know that the news could put in images of people having normal reactions to those events, such as mourning, but that the news covers it at all is because the original event has some atypical significance out of the norm (such as you say “large scale tragic event”).

            The media jumped on this story first because a son stabbed his own mother. Chinese people were outraged. Then the video comes out, and the media jumped on this story because it shows failure to act by Chinese people in front of foreign guests in their country. The story sells itself. Chinese people react in outrage and embarrassment.

            The one phenomenon I think is interesting and more meaningful to discuss than “only Chinese people are selfish/only think of themselves/would stand by doing nothing/etc.” is why many Chinese are upfront about explaining why they wouldn’t help because that would help us get at the different environmental factors that Chinese people grew up and live in versus other nationalities whose reaction would be to profess they would help. I think this would be productive instead of self-serving.

            3) Neither Crystal, I, or a few others think most of the people we are arguing with think Chinese are rotten to the core. Likewise, neither Crystal, I, or a few others have been denying the existence of bystander effect or that many Chinese people are often seen not rendering assistance to someone in need. Therefore, why do you ask us to admit it? That seems to be misrepresenting our position.

            We are bringing up societal factors such as bystander effect or legal precedent precisely because we already acknowledge such phenomenon. Speaking for myself, I am disagreeing with people who are foolishly going too far with their comments, suggesting that certain negative things are somehow limited to or unique to the Chinese. You’ve surely read the same comments I have.

            No, I don’t think making any sort of cultural generalization is racist. For one, I explain in another comment how I view positive vs. negative generalizations. For another, it is all about how you make those cultural generalizations. There are ways to make generalizations without offending people, just as there are ways to resolve conflicts without degenerating into attacks on each other. There are differences between observations and assertions. I read your comment on Shanghai Scrap and I know you attach value to anecdotes and straw man polls, etc. Again, I remind you that I do not discount anecdotes entirely as they certainly have their value, but I’m very cautious about how much they can justify very strong and negative conclusions or statements. You can review who and what I respond to to evaluate that.

            If praise should be mutual, I think responding to “I disagree with some of the things you say” with “I’m unimpressed with some of your views” is a bit asymmetrical. There’s a difference between expressing disagreement and expressing a measure of disrespect. You’ve hurt my self-esteem. Pox on you!

    • Vakeesan

      @ Crystal

      I just read the wikipedia link you posted, The incident took place in 1964 and it didn’t happen in the airport ( Where you had thousands of ppl) and also it took place in the early morning when ppl are sleeping. I wish you can read the link by yourself to know more before posting.

      • Airport and crowd! This is exactly (!) the point, which makes the current incident even more relevant to the context of “diffusion of responsibility”.

        That is – the more people are around – the lesser is the probability that someone will take responsibility and help.

        • Vakeesan

          @ Crystal

          I understand what is diffusion of responsibility, But one guy from the crowd was able to take a video and post this in the website ( youku or and when the person take the video i also hear some people talking about the “laowei”, Why don’t the people want to go and help the lady even after the “laowei” was helping her, Are you going to say this is also diffusion of responsibility? Letting one person take care of everything and just stand and watch.

          • Yes, I am going to say that. The logic that works here is:
            “Seems there is someone who knows what to do better than me”

          • anon

            Vakeesan, you must live in a world where every instance of tragedy involves everyone in the area piling on to help. I’m sorry, that’s not the planet Earth most of the people here live on. I’m baffled as to how you conveniently forget that the vast majority of people in these incidents are bystanders, not heroes or volunteers. I’m sure in your short life you’ve encountered scenes of accidents or injuries. Let me guess, regardless of the paramedics or cops, you press forth and demand to render your aid, right?

          • Anon

            @anon :

            The pile on help is too much to expect, but the pile on HATE is too much to expect also.

            Some people love profiting from being 2nd class citizens so much that they’d attack the people trying to free them? Some places are quite insane, and I’m not talking about China.

            Hope those pre-emptive laws I wrote about a short while back will be applied, I do consider China the place of the future (barring radioactive fallout from Japan) but this sort of thing must be resolved first – CCP with all it’s resources would not want to or would be remiss to let such things remain unaddressed.

          • Vakeesan

            @ Crystal
            Here you go, All that “laowei” did was stay next to her and held her shoulder and provided her only mental support and may be he used his handkerchief and tried to stop the bleeding. Are you trying to say that not even one person in the crowd even don’t know to do this. Most of the people there can understand chinese and they would have give her a better help than the laowei. From what you say i can only conclude this, May be in future if similar incidents are going to happen, you will just come an say ” Vakeesan, See this is what is called as Diffusion Of Responsibility”. I just call that as “lack of responsibility” or “a don’t care attitude (inhumane)”

            @ anon
            Dude there is a man on the earth who is different, As you can see from the video. If i was in the airport i would also go there to help her and i am not going to loose anything and atleast i will have a satisfaction i did something good, Plus i know first aid ( I have learnt it from my uncle in Srilanka who is a traditional medical practitioner). You just keep talking like this happens everywhere. I have said this in my previous post, This is the first time i hear such an incident happening in an Airport. Aren’t airport officers trained to address different situations? I have seen similar incidents in Chengdu and Beijing before, But they were on the street and not in the airport.

  • Ryo

    It’s sad that people here are taught to have kids. I was getting a massage the other day and talking to the girl. She told be she has an older brother, who lives out in the country, got married at 20, now 28, have 3 kids, and makes 1000 rmb. The wife, also 28, washes dishes for 800 RMB a month. The dad has passed and the mom simply takes care of the kids.

    I ask her why he have 3 kids? She said the first 2 were girls and they wanted a boy.

    They do not realize that they do not have money to give those kids a good future. They are so greedy and selfish that they do not realize the hard future those kids will have. I don’t need to go into details but at 1800 RMB for 6 people, it’s consider poverty even out in the farm country.

    It’s such a shame. The massage girl makes about 1600-2000 a month and she sends 1000 back every month.

    These people do not realize that they are living just for the sake of living. Well, I guess if we didn’t have all these poor Chinese, I wouldn’t be here taking advantage of their cheap products and services.

    • anon

      So I guess you don’t believe in the freedom or right of reproduction…

      • vince

        @anon- not if a parent is unable to provide a decent life for a child, i would think that it is selfish to have children and then expect them to suffer throughout their whole lives. I have to agree with Ryo on this one, don’t have kids if you cant support them.

        • anon

          I understand (I mean that sincerely from an emotional side), but who is to say who can or can’t provide a decent life? No one can predict the future and as much as we laugh about the road to hell being paved with good intentions, that’s how we have always lived as a species.

          What’s the difference between a parent who aborts their child because she feels she can’t provide a decent life for her child and a government that forces a woman to abort her child because it feels the nation/society/world hasn’t enough resources to provide that child with a decent life? Not very much. The lines are arbitrary, and that’s the problem with matters of human rights, including reproductive rights. The sanctity of the individual versus the interests of society, and right now, you are on the society side espousing an opinion to dictate an infringement or restriction upon the sanctity of the individual to bear child.

          • vince

            In the past I was not this cynical about the abilities of individuals to provide for their children, but sometimes we have to accept the fact that people have kids purely for their self interests.
            For example in the rural areas of certain countries farming families usually have an excess of children, being motivated by the fact that each child would be another helping hand. There is no contemplation of any other aspect of rearing a child except to provide free labor, but this is an extreme case.
            What irks me is when people have foolhardy beliefs like having a male child is more beneficial than a female and so on, society still seems to follow defunct ideals. We all have common sense and it would be in our best interests to use it, you are right though that I may be reading into this whole thing with too much emotion.
            I have a one year old son now and I would consider myself a failure as a parent if I was unable to provide him with enough, not too much mind you. When you provide too much children end up becoming ‘little emperors’ as they say in China.
            In ending I wish to say I do understand that it is the right of an individual to bear children, but what of the rights of the child? Must a child who’s parents do not have the means to provide at least a basic standard of life have to go through such a situation, all because of the rights of the parents to have a child? I just feel it’s rather unfair.
            Waiting to hear your feedback. :)

      • rollin wit 9’s

        you are seriously going to bring up freedom and the right of reproduction. Not bashing you dude but that is not even the point RYO made. When and if you are ever that poor, you tell me how many kids you want to have JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN.

  • Dan Danger

    okay, and what the hell are the guys in uniform with the walkie talkies doing!? if it not their job to rush up and assist the woman in some way then whose it? They just do not care is all. What is in it for them? What profit is in it for them to rush up and help and maybe get blood on their uniforms and then maybe have to pay to have them cleaned. really embarrassing. I can’t watch ti anymore.

  • twftw

    classic case of the by stander effect, everyone assumes another person would do something so no one does anything! derp derp

  • eattot

    do not do things out of your capability…especially to kids.
    but, sorry, my parents never let me get sufferred.

  • Davey

    Lowais are on average better human beings than Chinese.

    Get over it – its reality.

  • dude

    Given the clandestine nature of Chinese courtrooms, I dont think we will ever know what circumstance or logic fail led that judge(s) to make such a decision over the Peng Yu case now that it has created such a fear in the chinese’s pysch that they just don’t help. This combined with lack of moral and ethics, a darwinian and developing society centered around recent exposure to materialism, and a herd mentality; there you have it, now you will be surprised if you saw a helping hand.

    • Anon

      It is this sort of occasional comment that keeps us on our toes about the nature of this rising nation. Clandestine?!? It bothers me tremendously that this happened or that you’d think to describe the Courts in this manner.

      It’s no gutter from the photos, but the mindset of neglect is very gutter-like, though on second thought, the whole article was staged for the benefit of who knows?

      Did Wang extort from Gu enough to stab a parent for? How the hell did they come to such a viciously unbelievable conclusion? Who knows that someone posing as Wang stabbed Gu?

  • john digmeme

    There are countless cases in America of people not helping their fellow citizens who have been clearly injured by some brutal accident or crime. Saying this is just a Chinese thing is racist and flat-out wrong.

    Would you rather get hit by a car in America or China?
    Answer: Doesn’t matter!

    Would you rather get stabbed in America or China?
    Answer: Doesn’t matter!

    Bystander effect affects all humans equally.

    • Shanghairen

      Sorry, no. In China you get helped about 0% of the time–I know from internet videos and my own experience. In America I wouldn’t say you get helped 100% of the time, but you have a chance of being helped, and it depends on the situation of course.

      • john digmeme

        Can you elaborate on these personal experiences? I notice you say ‘depends on the situation’ for Americans to help. I agree completely; but when it comes to brutal stabbings, you’ll be at a loss to find helpful people in any country.

    • Larry Smith

      John I can’t deny that these things do happen in America and I am not saying that Chinese people are callous to these kind of incidents. It is the lack of two things that account for Chinese people not helping people in distress. 1. No good Samaritan law on the books to keep them from being sued. 2. There is no free public education programs available to educate the citizens in how to assist someone in distress so they don’t know what to do. Both of these things could be easily changed of the citizens were concerned enough to do so. It’s their country and their people.

      A person is choking to death in a restaurant, cafe coronary, a simple procedure like the Heimlich maneuver could save this person’s life would you know what to do. This person could be your wife, mother or child and not a stranger. Most of what has been presented here has been for victim and by stander situations but suppose it is a member of your family?

      The two videos that you linked to did happen for sure however these are the exception to the rule and not the rule. That is why they made the news in the first place. These kind of incidents rarely happen and most of the time they happen in less desirable neighborhoods, not always of course but most of the time.

      Back to the original story of the foreign devil helping a Chinese citizen in a busy airport. I doubt very much if this individual could give much assistance to this person after all he has only two hands and I believe she was stabbed 8 times. At least he tried.

      • john digmeme

        I like your comment, thanks for the response. You are right on both points, any improvement in the education would have a a positive effect, some people may even want to show off their medical skills.

        “The two videos that you linked to did happen for sure however these are the exception to the rule and not the rule. That is why they made the news in the first place. These kind of incidents rarely happen and most of the time they happen in less desirable neighborhoods, not always of course but most of the time.”

        Just type into google “stabbed no one helps” “beaten no one helps” “hit no one helps” “attacked no one helps” and see the country of origin of most of the results you get. YUP, good ol’ USA land of INDIVIDUALITY where socialism is a curse word. Heck, by clicking on one of the videos I’ve posted, you can see hundreds of results showing the American bystander effect.

        I like your points, agree completely, last paragraph was really funny; BUT, if you believe that Americans give a rats ass about anyone else, you are sadly living in a fantasy world.

        • Larry Smith

          John, I can’t argue with your statement about googling these issues and I haven’t googled any of them. I am from the country and in the country in the US where I live it is much different that in the big cities. I can’t deny that. I may stand corrected. The US is a violent place even more violent that perhaps I realized. People in my little town do try to help each other and if life in the big city is anything like you paint it I’ll stay in the country, thank you. The largest city that I have ever lived in was Tucson, Az.

          I am married to a Chinese woman for 11 years now and she has told me many, many times you do not get involved with anything that is going on with other people no matter what the circumstances are. If I do she gets very angry with me sometimes for days.

          One last thing. No one has even attempted to address the issue that I brought fourth about learning first aid for the benefit of saving one of their friends or family members. It is my opinion that this kind of training for the general public is almost non existent. I hope that you can prove me wrong on this matter but talking to my wife she says that it is almost non existent in China. She is from Beijing by the way.

          You see I have been a paramedic for some 22 years now and I firmly believe in helping people no matter who they are. As you know thousands do this kind of work in America for free and donating their time to stay at the rescue squad house on call for 24 hour shifts to respond to anyone that has a medical emergency. The service are always free and it is sponsored by making money selling dinners to the public by volunteers and soliciting donations to fund them. How many of these units are there in China?

      • Chad

        Is it not highly ironic that Americans, the people that are often mocked for being the most callous, selfish and uncaring people in the world, are on this page talking up the good samaritans of America and how uncaring the Chinese are? I mean I’m not making any judgments on who is right about what stereotype, but this is a bit humorous.

  • Shanghairen

    Here’s a story from Atalanta where a guy pulled another guy off of train tracks, despite receiving electrical shocks in the process. This kind of thing happens much more often in American than China.

  • Regina.

    Okay, so there’s two things I want to address.

    Firstly, the debate over “do these types of things happen in America?” is ridiculous. The answer is yes. There will always be cases like this in America and anywhere else you go in the world. As long as this Earth is spinning, there will be people who just don’t care enough to help others. But the point that I think most people are trying to make is how frequently this happens in China compared to the US. You can deny it all you want and down-play it all you want, but this IS big issue in China. Any foreigners that I know who live in China have all told me about this “phenomenon” of Chinese citizens not lending a helping hand. Not to mention all the articles I’ve read that speak of this exact thing. People needing help, being attacked and left for dead, or simply getting into a terrible accident, and NO ONE trying to comfort the person in any way. Whether by simply talking to the person and telling them they will be okay, or physically touching the person and trying to help them.

    I guess the point of this is that this happens in China waaaay more often than it does anywhere else. And to be honest, even though this happens everywhere, to me, this still seems as something that’s uniquely Chinese. Why? Well I feel when it comes to other countries, it’s more about the person as an individual. If in America or France, or Africa, if someone doesn’t lend a hand, then okay. THAT person didn’t lend a hand. Whereas in China, it seems to be more of a general thing. It’s “common” for (generally speaking) anyone and everyone to not help. It’s common for Chinese citizens to not help. Unlike in another country where it would be changed to: it’s common to have someone that won’t help. See the difference? This is the sole difference between China and other countries when it comes to this. I know how Chinese people are raised. I know their thoughts on strangers. I know their thoughts on situations that don’t involve them. Knowing this, it only makes sense that this is more of a “Chinese” thing as opposed to a “people” thing. (as someone tried to say before)

    In addition, the fact that even the media capitalized on the “Only a LAOWAI stepped in to help!” and “Foreigner helps stabbed woman.” as opposed to just saying “Man helps stabbed woman in airport.” lets your further know that there’s an issue here. Chinese people themselves are focusing on the fact that it was only a person of non Chinese heritage that went to offer SOMETHING to the woman, even if it was just simply propping her head up with a towel. So these are just some things to think about.

    The second thing I want to say is, I do get the feeling that a lot of netizens were genuinely mad at their Chinese brothers and sisters for not doing a damn thing. But, I asked myself WHY are they angry? And to be honest, I think the biggest reason why netiziens would be mad about this is simply because a laowai helped and not a Chinese. This is, indeed, losing face for China. Maybe I’m just being cynical about this but I honestly feel that the majority of netizens are particularly angry about this because it was a foreigner who helped and by doing this, he made Chinese people look inhuman and cruel. So they’re not really angry because a son stabbed his mother. They’re angry because it was a LAOWAI who stepped in to help. (and China lost face) I feel they are angry for the wrong reasons.

    • john digmeme

      I agree with the last two paragraphs, nice insight.

      As for the first two paragraphs, I find them to be utter bollox. Can you show me some proof of how “this happens way more often in China”? No? Well, as I posted above, do a quick google search of “and no one helps” and see how many results. Anyway, there are over 2 billion results for that search and almost the entirety of the incidents take place in the United States.

      The real question is, how do we correct this HUMAN behavior? Why are you trying to downplay how bad it is in a developed country like the United States? Besides, I don’t even know what you mean by ‘helps’ in your post, whether you are talking about violent crime or help with problems in general.

      If you’re talking about people being attacked and left for dead as being a big deal in China, you must not have heard of any Chinese crime syndicates. Otherwise, I would like to direct your attention to a little city called Philadelphia in the USA where people are beaten in public streets daily and no one does a damn thing about it.

      It is not ME trying to downplay what goes on in China, I see and read the same articles as you, I hear the same stories; it is YOU who is trying to downplay what a problem this is in human society in general, pointing your finger and picking the lesser developed Chinese as a scapegoat.

      • Just John

        Quite frankly, you will not get the results.
        You are basing it on the premises of a search engine that will search mostly English websites, when most English websites are American, so of course you will get more hits in the US then in any other country.

        Try the same thing in German and you will probably get other results, or Russian, French, etc.

        As for showing proof, given the censorship of most issues in China and some of the downright falsifying of statistics, you are right, you will not get said proof.

        Instead, I think Regina is basing it on observing the very environments, through personal interaction, news reading, etc.

        After all, this is how we form our opinion, by what we experience, and it seems that many more people experience things like this in China then in the US. If you want factual data, better start keeping your own, you won’t get them from the government or news.

      • Boris

        Hi John.
        I was born in the UK and I’ve spent a few years in China.
        These are a few observations:
        There is far more alcohol-fueled violence in the UK than China,
        Drug abuse is vastly more common in the UK than China,
        Unprovoked violence and verbal abuse to strangers is more frequent in the UK than in China.
        When I came here I was shocked how little obvious crime there was and I still enjoy a feeling of safety pretty much anytime of day or night. It was a breath of fresh air to see how uninterested Chinese people were in causing each other unsolicited trouble.
        But there is a flipside here. Not only are most Chinese people not interested in harming strangers, they’re not much interested in helping them either. Where would I rather be when the pubs close on a Saturday night, London or Beijing? The latter. But as a previous poster wrote, where would I rather have a heart attack? It cuts both ways. Of course I could be talking utter bollocks…

    • Chad

      And I’ll post the same response I gave to Peter.
      I’ll agree that generalizations are somewhat fair sometimes like the one about how Chinese tend not to follow traffic laws compared to developed countries. But it’s not about being PC. A generalization about Chinese not helping others is kind of ridiculous considering A) people tend not to do that in any country with large cities and it’s a well-defined “phenomenon”, and B) these instances of stabbings/people needing medical aid/needing any kind of aid on the street are not exactly commonplace so any attempt to make a generalization like this is retarded since you cannot reasonably conclude anecdotally that one rare event is more common than another rare event in a society of a billion. B) is the main issue so it doesn’t matter if the people here aren’t labelling EVERYONE in China or they acknowledge that it happens in other countries too.

      It’s like saying that Chinese are more likely to get childhood cancers than non-Chinese without any statistics and explain it using the good ol cultural explanation of say… they eat more grilled foods. Sounds stupid right? And it is. Ironically, if you go on some Youtube videos of Chinese helping thief victims out on Youtube, you’ll see plenty of people talking about collectivist Chinese culture being the reason they like to help each other and how Americans wouldn’t do anything… and the people who comment are often Americans. It’s the same situation here. And Chinatown vigilantes do make the news around where I live sometimes, and the same type of reaction occurs- they help each other because they’re Chinese. So yeah, generalizing in either direction is stupid.

      It’s not about being PC, it’s about generalizing in a *reasonable* manner. Trying to justify your generalization using baseless cultural/historic explanations is not helpful.

      And to add, you’re apparently crazier than the guy that I originally replied to. I’ve never seen someone so full of venom and self-righteousness on here. I mean, there are the trolls and sociopaths but you’re a special case. You seem to genuinely believe what you say considering you wrote an essay.

      I mean just read what you’re writing and tell me you don’t think you sound ridiculous. Some gems:
      “I guess the point of this is that this happens in China waaaay more often than it does anywhere else. And to be honest, even though this happens everywhere, to me, this still seems as something that’s uniquely Chinese.”
      ^I mean seriously?

      • PeterScriabin

        Thanks for taking up space here with the same huge block of dull, incoherent material you already inflicted on the reading public. It seemed as full of non-sequiturs and outright drivel the second time as the first, and left me just as numb.

        By the way, and separately, whose, and where, were the “baseless cultural/historic explanations” anyway?

        I take it as a badge of honor you consider me crazy! Hope you read Noondog’s post below. e pluribus unum!

        • Chad

          @Peter: You’re going to have learn to read through the comments section if you’re asking me where the baseless cultural/historic explanations are. I can’t hold your hand.

          • PeterScriabin

            Ah, I see, thanks. Another bobiscool ID. No evidence, just hot air.

      • Ethan JRT


        I thought Regina.’s comment was pretty calm and thought-out. (In contrast to your own. A “gem”: “any attempt to make a generalization like this is retarded since you cannot reasonably conclude anecdotally that one rare event is more common than another rare event in a society of a billion.”)

        Let me just run through the rest of your argument real quick:
        Your “A)”: totally unsupported. People “tend not to” help others? Everywhere? (Or, at least, in every country that has large cities? Or, IN the large cities?) In an argument based on the limitations of anecdotal evidence, offering nothing more than an indirect reference to anecdotes – and another to the phenomenon of “diffusion of responsibility” – just makes you look silly.

        Your “Youtube…”: Okay, we get it. Two camps of people can make opposing assertions. One or both of them may be dumb. Their reasoning may be flawed. Since that doesn’t tell us anything about the case at hand, let’s move on.

        Which leaves us with the one point worth considering: that based on the rarity of the phenomenon and the limited scope of anecdotal evidence, it is unreasonable to extrapolate a generalization about a society or a nation.

        I’m not quite sure why this question, in your view, is so completely closed to debate. Personally, I think it has a lot to do with the strength, breadth, perspective, and uniformity of the evidence; as well as, frankly, the daring (or foolishness) of the person doing the generalizing. In the spectrum between a complete lack of evidence and a published, peer-reviewed, well-controlled study on the phenomenon, I think this case falls somewhere near the middle. [I’m not going to repost my own comments, but you can read about what I see as the multiple types of evidence by doing a CTRL+F for “@ Crystal (“.] Rare as a phenomenon may be, the fact that it has been consistently noted or supported by several levels/aspects of society is a fact that shouldn’t be ignored.

        • Chad

          Regina’s comment was pretty crazy considering she thinks the bystander effect is, as I quote, “uniquely Chinese”. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard of. There’s NO other country in the world where this kind of thing happens? She says it’s not common in France, the US and Africa- I mean Africa is a freaking continent from Libya to Congo. Are you seeing what I’m saying here? Let’s be at least slightly reasonable here.

          A) The bystander effect has been observed in many countries in Europe and North America. You can do a google scholar search for studies, not just mere “anecdotes” as you call them. Is it in EVERY country? I don’t know. You’re really trying hard to nitpick on my words, and if you have to do that, you need a stronger argument. Considering you think your anecdotal evidence is somewhere in the middle on the evidence scale, it’s a bit funny you’re going to criticize actual evidence. Yes the Bystander Effect is common across many countries as shown by studies, but has the incidence been compared by country? Not that I know of, and I didn’t say that or try to use anecdotal evidence to support that.

          My Youtube point referred to how people seem to use their anecdotal evidence as gospel and then explain it using culture in completely different ways. Is your “evidence” any better than theirs?

          Yes, it does have a lot ot do with the strength and uniformity of the evidence, and the fact that you think this case falls in the middle between RCTs and lack of evidence is amusing. The “evidence” right now is anecdotal and full of counter-evidence if you’re going to play up observations and social commentary as evidence because we have plenty of Youtube comments proposing the opposite in terms of the prevalence of the bystander effect in Chinese society. An observational study would be in the middle in terms of evidence, and it would need to be compared to one in another country. Give me some proof that this occurs more in China than in other countries. Right now, it’s a % of Chinasmack viewers vs a % of Youtubers who think the opposite. I’ve heard Chinese people talk about how they like to help each other. So what? What makes your evidence better than theirs? I’ve seen people in here talk about how people in America tend to help each other. I’ve seen the opposite claim way more often on other sites. So what? It doesn’t mean a thing, just like your “evidence” doesn’t mean a thing here.

          That’s the point, and yes I do think it’s crazy that people think their anecdotal stories (or those of Chinese commenters) mean a damn thing. I have the same reaction when people talk about how their car broke down and say that’s evidence that brand X is unreliable.

          • PeterScriabin

            Chad, I don’t think this discussion should be derailed by the abysmally-low quality of your replies, your intellect. People like Ethan JRT, Noondog, Boris, etc., are long gone, because, honestly, you’re not worth talking to.

            Just briefly, and before I get to the point of my writing yet another post in this thread (and I admit that even I am talking over your head to the fair-minded people who may still be around, and for the record), let’s note that Ethan (and even Regina if you actually read what was said) never denied the bystander effect, not even one little bit. That makes half your latest bulge of bilge a waste of everyone’s time. In the latter half, all you do is regurgitate the same point Ethan and others have already made, that in the absence of definitive scientific proof, it’s an anecdotal face-off. What, in all honesty, is left of your boring, ill-composed drivel?

            Since I also still have no science here, what is my point? First, please let me declare personal testimony, to eliminate possible bias. During all my time in China, people here have consistently been above-and-beyond friendly and helpful. One time, I got back to the hotel, and my wallet was missing. After I’d given up all hope, and called home to cancel all the cards, a Chinese family appeared in the lobby, late that night, to return the wallet, that I’d dropped in the median of a two-way highway, where there was thick vegetation. The wallet had a couple thousand RMB and passwordless credit cards. Everything still there. Turned out their 12 year-old son found the wallet, and took it back home. When Mum got off work, she took control, and did some detective work to find me. Another time, my plastic shopping bag burst open on a street in QingDao, and all kinds of fruit, and other groceries were everywhere. Immediately, an ayi ran over to me with her own spare bag, and insisted I take it. I could bore you for hours with such stories. I am in no doubt about the warm hearts and helpful people to be found everywhere in China.

            Back to this thread. The bottom line, barring better evidence so far, is that most western countries have a culture of “you should help a stranger in distress”, while China explicitly has a culture of ““better not help a stranger in distress if there is much chance it could rebound on you.” Again, and on the whole, some children were taught: “help, or be ashamed of yourself”. Others were taught “walk on by, or face my wrath because you endangered yourself”. I won’t mention again the well-known legal reinforcements of this tendency.

            Are these the kind of “baseless cultural/historic explanations” that you derided? Which people would you expect, on the whole, to be more likely to intervene when some husband is beating the crap out of his wife on the street? Again, no one is denying the bystander effect, no one is deriding an abstract Chinese character, they are just pointing to the observed results of a probabilistic situation, as are the Chinese netizen commentators themselves.

            I don’t see the point of denying the balance of current evidence, because of the recent western tradition of PC. It is unfortunate that you (and anon, in this case) evidently lack the mental wherewithal to marshal an argument, because it denies the rest of us a work-out, and possibly learning something new.

            (Oh, I forgot – your Brand X point – if there are hundreds of verified posts about Brand X, and few if any plaudits, and Consumer Reports hasn’t yet come in with the survey results, are you really going to buy Brand X?)

          • Chad

            Wow, you need to learn to compose your thoughts in a more concise manner.

            “In the latter half, all you do is regurgitate the same point Ethan and others have already made, that in the absence of definitive scientific proof, it’s an anecdotal face-off. What, in all honesty, is left of your boring, ill-composed drivel?”

            Actually, they said in the absence of scientific proof, it was anecdotal evidence was the only thing we have left. However, they didn’t acknoweldge that there’s contradicting anecdotal evidence depending on which part of society you talk to or which websites you visit. They think that the opinions on this issue are uniform and lop-sided to one side, just like you. That’s the issue. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence on other sites citing the opposite- that Chinese help each other. So what? Which evidence is stronger? YOUR problem is that you think your anecdotal evidence means anything more than those on other websites or that there’s more people who agree with you. I’m not the one confused about that little part of the argument.

            “The bottom line, barring better evidence so far, is that most western countries have a culture of “you should help a stranger in distress”, while China explicitly has a culture of ““better not help a stranger in distress if there is much chance it could rebound on you.” Again, and on the whole, some children were taught: “help, or be ashamed of yourself”. Others were taught “walk on by, or face my wrath because you endangered yourself”. I won’t mention again the well-known legal reinforcements of this tendency.”

            And I’ve seen many people say the opposite- that Western countries have a culture of individualism that predisposes them to not give a damn about people dying on the street whereas China is collectivist so they are supposed to help others in the society. Just because you propose a reasonable-sounding cultural explanation doesn’t mean your anecdotal evidence is worth anything because anyone can come up with a rebuttal using a cultural explanation that they pull out of their rear end as well, and I just did. The legal reinforcements (Good Samaritan Laws) is not evidence. As I said before.

            “I don’t see the point of denying the balance of current evidence, because of the recent western tradition of PC.”

            PLEASE, show me the balance of the current evidence because as of right now, it looks like it’s a certain % of Chinasmack (and some Chinese netizens) posters’ anecdotal evidence vs the anecdotal evidence of posters on other websites. Again, this is not about being PC. This is about not making ridiculously general arguments based on anecdotal evidence that supports your argument which you think may be abundant than that of others but have no proof of it.

            “(Oh, I forgot – your Brand X point – if there are hundreds of verified posts about Brand X, and few if any plaudits, and Consumer Reports hasn’t yet come in with the survey results, are you really going to buy Brand X?)”

            I’d take it with a grain of salt, but if all things were equal, I’d choose another brand over brand X. Your problem is that you think that you have evidence that the “verified posts” in this argument is leaning towards any side just because you seem to only browse Chinasmack. Again, that’s your problem not mine.

          • PeterScriabin

            Cripes, you sobered right up before writing that last one (Chad
            April 18, 2011 4:56 am ), didn’t you? Good stuff.

            As you say: “There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence on other sites citing the opposite – that Chinese help each other.” Care to share some of this counterbalancing evidence (a link or two)? I’m sure you have something specific in mind, don’t you?

            Please note: one or two anecdotes of helpfulness by Chinese people (like my own above) is NOT the desideratum here. Rather, what would be wanted is a small sample of genuine Chinese mainlanders who aver they are willing to help in incidents such as the one at hand (or actually did), and who deny there is a widespread and longstanding cultural imprimatur against getting involved, and who just can’t understand the kind of comments found at the top of this article.

            Because, you see, all the people I asked here (I live in China) say it is generally not desirable to get involved with strangers in distress (though many stated they might try to call 110, if appropriate). And several others here on CS, who also live in China, said the same darn thing.

            Yeah, sorry, it’s not scientific, but I admit I haven’t seen the countervailing evidence that you say stops you from taking the netizen comments seriously.

        • Chad

          And PS your multiple types of evidence consisted of A) anecdotal evidence and B) the Peng Yu case and the Good Samaritan Laws in the US. You’re REALLY playing up how important and serious that evidence is, especially considering how A) the Good Samaritan Laws hasn’t stopped the generalizations about Americans being selfish and uncaring from other parts of the world, which of course are also unsupported and unreasonable generalizations; and B) you can find plenty of “evidence” supporting the completely opposite claim that Chinese tend to help each other in other dark corners of the Internet.

      • Just John


        Did you seriously just use a Chinatown example?
        Have you even lived over here, or are you basing your observations on Chinese outside of China?

        While I am not saying I agree with Regina, I am wondering if you even know what your talking about.

        To take your quote:
        “I guess the point of this is that this happens in China waaaay more often than it does anywhere else. And to be honest, even though this happens everywhere, to me, this still seems as something that’s uniquely Chinese.”

        Just based on a numbers game, if this happens equally in every country, then given China has the worlds largest population, then by pure statistics it in fact would occur more.

        This is not a “It only happens in China” opinion reflected here.

        As for the second part, while it may seem silly that Regina said “This still seems as something uniquely Chinese”, I think this is an expression of an opinion, not a fact.

        All in all, I am not sure why you are claiming it sounds ridiculous. Just because your opinion differs does not mean that there is not a basic reason why this individual feels this way.

        • Chad

          Good grief! Read what I wrote again. I used Chinatown as an example of a situation where commentors (non-Chinese ones) seem to think Chinese tend to help each other out more because they see in the news that a bunch of shopkeepers help each other catch a thief. I didn’t say it was right. I was using it to highlight how different people will come to different conclusions about how Chinese act based on 1-10 incidents in their life, which is very stupid no matter which conclusion they make. I don’t know how you got the idea I was using Chinese in Chinatown to represent Chinese in China when I don’t even believe a sample size of 1 is fair to make a such a huge generalization in the first place. Yeesh.

          Try not to be so insulting if you completely misunderstood what I wrote in the first place.

          Second, obviously Regina’s point was not about population size in the context of the rest of her comment. She said it was unique Chinese and she said she doesn’t think it really happens in US, France, Africa, etc. Yes, she was expressing an opinion of something that she thinks is a fact. I’m expressing MY opinion that her opinion is downright stupid.

          As I said, I think it sounds ridiculous to say that not helping others (as a common occurence) is a uniquely Chinese trait. I say this because A) there’s no scientific evidence and B) the anecdotal evidence is conflicting and C) to say it’s uniquely Chinese is a bit stupid no matter which way you look at it and to chime in with a continent (Africa) as an example of where it doesn’t happen commonly is downright blockheaded.

    • Noondog

      I’ve asked friends about this previously, and my friends consisted of chinese and american nationality. Every single chinese person said they wouldn’t help, but call the police instead. One of the americans said they wouldn’t help. I just showed this story to my better half, Chinese background, and she said 中国人就不原意帮助别人,这是个可观的事实。

      There is certainly some room for actual studies and statistics to come into play, and I don’t have any. All I have is my experience in China for the past several years. Bike wreck? no one helped me. I see a mercedez hit a woman on a bike, 20 people were standing around. I helped, nobody else did. My wife managed to pull a large suitcase and a baby stroller through 6 subway stops in Beijing by herself, many of these stops did not have an elevator so she had to carry one up the stairs by hand, then go back down and grab the other, and the one person that helped her was an elderly caucasian.

      It’s difficult to say for sure what the real situation is, all I know is that this is a topic of conversation in China, whereas it isn’t in America. So there is certainly a PERCEPTION of a problem even amongst the Chinese people themselves. I know I’m biased in my own perception, but then again I only know what I’ve seen and experienced. Any denial of this as a particular problem in Chinese society, while well-meaning, is naive.

    • anon

      We go over this over and over again…

      1. Instances of any phenomenon correlate to density of population. China’s a pretty populous and dense place. It should not be surprising that such incidents occur more frequently.

      2. China is a harsher place to live in and this shapes people’s attitudes and predispositions to a lot of things. Your environment affects your behavior. This is why we have white American families who prefer raising their kids in nice safe suburbs rather than inner city ghettos. This is why Chinese families prefer the more sophisticated cities to the rural backwater countryside. There are going to be differences but they should be evaluated in context of their environment. Instead, people aren’t seeking to understand why some Chinese act the way they do and simply stopping at “because they’re Chinese”. That’s the beginning of irrational prejudice.

      3. Both of the above contribute to foreigners’ perceptions of Chinese society and behavior. They see a lot more of things because they’re more people, and there are certainly differences in behavior that are compounded by the amount of people (which only makes the groups of bystanders bigger and thus seemingly more outrageous despite the underlying cause being common to humans). You have a lot of anecdotal evidence ( resulting in hasty generalizations (

      4. Compounding this, you have news reports. But as I responded to Vakeesan, you have to remember that the stuff that makes the news are generally “exceptions” by nature, not the norms. The media will want to report groups of people who didn’t do anything or the few people who heroically risked or sacrificed themselves to do a good deed because these are atypical. No media cares to report about a woman who fell down and someone helped her up, or that someone hit a woman and immediately stopped to render assistance. That doesn’t sell, and people don’t take notice of it because that’s expected behavior. It’s expected behavior because that what usually happens. That’s actually the norm. This is true in China, in Chinese media, as it is in other countries and the media of other countries.

      5. So with anecdotes and news reports, you now have a problem of misleading vividness ( and availability bias.

      6. For many, that is compounded onto confirmation bias ( This is something we see a lot of on chinaSMACK.

      The difference between “it’s common for Chinese citizens to not help” and “it’s common to have someone that won’t help” is the person’s predisposition to generalize groups of people. You individualize the people in America or France, but why not China? A lot of this has been dealt with in studies about racism and prejudice. Very few people think they are racists or prejudiced but pretty much everyone is prejudiced. Sadly, only a few people actually are aware of their prejudiced enough to keep a check on them.

      Pushing to acknowledge a people thing as a “people thing” instead of a “Chinese thing” is a check on your prejudices and biases. The more you allow yourself and others to hastily generalize into race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc., the more you reinforce those generalizations, prejudices, and stereotypes to the detriment of yourself and others. You want the Chinese to be more like your own people? Treat them with the way you’d treat your own people.

      For many of us who come from Western countries and are probably under 30-40 years old, we’re going to find the Chinese specifying “laowai” as being incredibly politically incorrect. If you’re going to come out and presumptively say you know how Chinese people are raised, their thoughts on strangers, on situations that don’t involve them, then you should probably know that many Chinese people are actually quite cynical about the state of their country and society and that they do often look at and compare themselves to others.

      Is that a surprise? If you’ve lived in any country that isn’t amongst the top developed first-world countries in the world, you’d recognize that the local population looks outward. The Japanese compared themselves to the Americans 50 years ago. The Koreans 30 years ago. It is human nature to compare oneself to others. China is on this whole “let’s build a harmonious society” bender, and part of that is to improve civil society. Is it surprising that they would compare themselves to foreigners whether it be to get people to aspire for better or to shame them into behaving better (Beijing Olympics no spitting policy anyone?).

      Yes, it is very likely that many Chinese are angry because they feel this incident embarrasses the Chinese people. Hey, guess what? That’s a great motivator for positive change. Not liking that oneself is inferior to others in some aspect prompts one to make changes and improvements. It’s the same reason the US ramped up their space program, because it was embarrassing that the Russians beat them at it. It’s the same reason so many Americans are ashamed that Chinese students are better in science and math. It’s the same reason so many Americans are kinda pissed that China may get to the moon before Americans get back. It’s the same reason so many Americans are threatened by China’s economic rise. Because everyone is engaged in some sort of pissing contest and doesn’t like the embarrassment that comes with coming up short against the others.

      Chinese people certainly have their own generalizations, stereotypes, and unfair prejudices, but if we as foreigners really fashion ourselves as better than them, what does it say when we engage in the same generalizing, stereotyping, and prejudicing they do?

      • Capt. WED

        HAHA LOL LOL LOL. Excuses excuses…

      • Just John

        Nice explanation of what is going on in Regina’s mind.

        Thanks, it made me think.

      • darkandlovelykissedbythe

        Thanks, I really enjoyed reading this.

  • dim mak

    >long pointless essays justifying racism or racism-induced butthurt

    oh u guis

  • dude

    Why does it always have to be China vs USA?? There are other countries in the world too besides USA.

    • Ethan JRT

      It’s just that…
      1) this is a forum about China


      2) most of the visitors (straw poll) are Americans.
      3) a lot of the laws/studies people like to point to were done in America.

    • john digmeme

      If you’re talking about my comments, it is because I live in Philadelphia, the most violent major city in the US. I see a lot of callousness, selfishness and all around irritability towards other humans. People here wear tee shirts with the slogan “I’m not mad, I’m just from Philly”.

      I once jumped up to help a guy who got his leg stuck in the small gap between a subway platform and the subway car he was running to catch before the door closed and it started moving. What did I get for my effort?


      I’ll never help someone in the same situation again, it could have potentially been quite entertaining. I felt like I ‘lost face’ and if I had been a mainlander, this would have never happened. I don’t know how it is in your country, but Americans on this website who berate the Chinese for their behavior need to look in the mirror.

  • PeterScriabin

    The one thing I missed on this thread was Fauna’s usual plug for the personals.

    Take a stab at it: [email protected] ?

  • Danny

    Just happened today in America. Look how many people stopped and helped.

  • Ray

    Hope the mother is alright and the son gets some help, but this incident of the lack of help from others kinda reminds me of the cyclist that got hit by a motorbike then ran over a few more times by other vehicles.

    Even in like a situation where you are the only bystander the people still responded with things like “Shes obviously dead, no point in doing anything, just drive around her” or “I dunno how to help her, better to just leave her there”. These are some sad incidences and I think it can serve to help against this “bystander effect” by pointing out that exists in humans.

  • KopyKatKiller

    When trying to understand/predict Chinese behavior, it’s always good to ask oneself, “What would a herd of cows do?” ;)

    The Chinese, although supposedly collective and very proud of their “race”, culture, and history, in reality don’t give a damn about their fellow citizen. Could this be a rebellion against the teachings of Mao and the effect of Deng Xiao Ren on society? Or maybe it could be the result of the “One Spoiled Child Policy”??? Or maybe this sort of thing happens because China is a socially undeveloped backwater… “In many ways, China is like the Middle Ages” Ai Wei Wei. Whatever the reason, it’s not good for China.

  • Laowai are so arrogant! I strongly condemn this unwanted interference into China’s internal affairs!

  • mike

    i think the man is a hero, if someone it hurt that bad, just holding there hand is something, if you dont know first aid hold them, why people where just standing i dont know. I understand that some people dont want to help or are scared to, but only one person, in the whole airport, so sad so sad.

  • A similar thing happened to me about 5 years ago in the Beijing train station. A guy was beating his grandmother while the hundreds of people in the lobby watched, including people in military uniform. I was the only person to go over and try to calm him down, and about 5 minutes later one Chinese man did come over and help out. I felt extremely embarassed, and hated that I was fulfilling the stereotype.
    What’s interesting was that when the police finally came, the crowd suddenly got into it and started yelling at him and spitting on him.

  • al

    I would like to know how on earth he had a deadly weapon in Pudong airport, having just come through Customs?