By Michael Ardaiolo
Photo by thenanfang.com
The latest case of the “Yang Lei Feng” (洋雷锋) phenomenon struck Saturday evening in Dongguan. A Brazilian man was severely beaten in front of a mass of onlookers after he attempted to prevent a thief from stealing a Chinese woman’s purse.
According to South China Television, at about 7:30pm on May 5, a woman was assailed by a man attempting to steal her purse on the streets of Dongguan, a southern city in the Guangdong province. A Brazilian man in close proximity attempted to prevent the crime by injecting his umbrella between the woman and the thief. He was immediately pounced upon by three men with sticks and belts though and knocked to the ground.
The woman, identified as Miss Zhu by thenanfang.com, did not come to the man’s aid, which, under the circumstances, was understandable. The estimated twenty onlookers who also failed to intervene, however, acted despicably. Stronger words come to mind concerning the two passive security guards standing not 30 meters away. According to them, preventing fights is not in their job description. One wonders what is.
After the assailants fled, the Brazilian man with “his head severely bleeding” was helped to the hospital by Miss Zhu and another man. The crowd dispersed.
Foreign Lei Fengs to the rescue!
Late last year, a series of foreign Samaritans made headlines. There was the Uruguayan woman who saved a girl attempting suicide in Hangzhou’s West Lake. Bystanders opted to take photos of the wet foreigner rather than aiding them back onshore. Then, there was the Caucasian woman who helped a man who had collapsed on the public sidewalk in Xi’an. Not to mention the Caucasian man who held a scarf to the open wound of a stab victim at Pudong Airport as others stood back. These foreigners have been deemed “Yang Lei Feng” (洋雷锋), or “Foreign Lei Feng,” in reference to a model soldier held up in China as a propagandistic paragon of selflessness.
Chinese netizens are once again in an uproar over the most recent incident with Sina Weibo being the chosen outlet for exasperation. The combined frustration from these incidents and the infamous (and disturbing to watch) case of the two-year-old YueYue left for dead in Foshan last year are forcing citizens to reflect and, hopefully, call for action. The government has even begun to monetarily reward Good Samaritans to encourage the practice: the Uruguayan woman was awarded RMB3000 as thanks. While perhaps slightly disingenuous on the surface, that is a helpful step in reshaping the culture of citizen-level non-intervention in China.
In contrast, there is also the circulating story of the brave elderly Chinese citizen who has jumped into the Longhei River to save a drowning person. The suicidal man being saved, however, was uncooperative, and the elderly man had to jump in the Longhei River three times before the police arrived. Non-Foreign Lei Fengs represent!