By Horace Lu
As the nation continues its soulsearching in the wake of the Yueyue tragedy, in which a two-year-old toddler was run over by two vehicles and ignored by passers-by, a new online meme has sprung up to encourage Good Samaritan acts.
The new meme is called 撑腰体 (“Backing up”) and it all began with a tweet from Dong Fan (董藩), an economist and professor at the Beijing Normal University, on Sina Weibo, currently China’s largest Twitter-like service. Dong said:
“The Vice President of Peking University says: If you are a student of Peking University and you see an old man who has fallen on the ground, just help him up. If he later attempts to cheat your money, the law school will offer you legal assistance. And if you lose your suit, PKU will offer you compensation!”
Dong was apparently referring to a statement by Wu Zhipan (吴志攀) of Peking University who is supposed to have said recently at an event that the university’s law school would offer free legal support for any Beida student embroiled in Good Samaritan court cases, and if they lost, the university would cover up to 200,000RMB in expenses, and the alumni could help raise the remaining expenses.
Yueyue’s sad story has brought to mind several controversial cases in China where Good Samaritans were later accused of being guilty of causing injury, and some have even been made to pay for medical expenses even when no evidence was at hand to prove culpability.
Such high profile reports appear to have reduced people’s willingness to help strangers in need, and as a result, at least one old man has been known to die on the streets because no one extended him a helping hand.
Multiple adaptations of Dong Pan’s tweet have since emerged on Sina Weibo. Here are a few choice examples:
“If you are a student of Beijing Institute of Technology and see an old man who has fallen on the ground, just help him stand up. If he attempts to cheat your money, dynamite majors will offer you explosives, vehicle construction majors will offer you tanks, aircraft majors will offer you J-20, and missile majors will offer you missiles. If he is still not killed, our computer science majors will offer you hackers to invade his computer and format his disc! If that doesn’t help still, I have a relative who is a chengguan, he will visit the swindler!” (via)
“If you are a student of China University of Political Science and Law and see an old man who has fallen on the ground, just help him stand up. If he attempts to cheat your money, our alumni will amend the Constitution right now and will have the final word on whether you should compensate or not!” (via)
“If you are a student of Beijing Film Academy and see an old man who has fallen on the ground, just help him stand up. If he attempts to cheat your money, we will make your story a movie, make it widely-known by censorship’s force-out, and then seal the swindler’s mouth via public pressure!” (via)
The meme has received wide media coverage in China and has been generally regarded as a call for the return of China’s traditional morality (whatever that means), as the debate on how to avoid the recurrence of Yue Yue’s tragedy continues.