China’s Tragic Good Samaritan Laws

By Mike Devlin on Tuesday, July 23, 2013
chinese-poverty
“No one would remember the good samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.” —Margaret Thatcher

In a Nutshell

In China, there are no national laws protecting good Samaritans. Should you attempt to rescue someone and fail, you can be held financially liable to the victim’s family. This lack of protection has led to the loss of countless lives as people refuse to help others for fear of losing money.

The Whole Bushel

Most of us like to think that should some unexpected tragedy occur, we would do our best to help our fellow man. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, we fail in the process. That is the reason behind “Good Samaritan” laws which exist in many countries throughout the world. These laws would protect you if, for example, you accidentally broke someone’s rib while giving them CPR. Unfortunately, China’s laws are the exact opposite. The government forces the Good Samaritan to make a settlement with the family of the person who has died.

Just last week, a pair of Chinese teenage girls, Li Qing and Chen Min, 17, fell into Lotus Lake in Dazhou City, Sichuan. Friends Wu Bo and Liu Hon, 18, dove in after them. Despite the boys’ best efforts, the girls were lost to the murky lake and drowned. Mere hours after the incident, the boys were pressured to pay 50,000 yuan ($8,150 USD) each for failing to save their friends.

Perhaps the most disturbing case was that of 2 year old toddler Wang Yue, who wandered into the street in Foshan, Guandong in 2001. Video footage shows the girl being struck by a van, which drove off. For seven full minutes, dozens of people walked and cycled past the baby’s bleeding, prostrate body, none of them attempting to help. Then the helpless girl was struck by another truck, which also drove away. Finally, a woman pulled Yue to the side of the road where she was recovered by her grief-stricken mother. The 2 year old clung on for over a week in the hospital, but eventually died of brain injuries.

Although no national laws to protect Samaritans are in the works, some cities, like Shenzhen, are rolling out laws to help well meaning bystanders. Shenzhen’s “Good Person’s Law,” officially known as the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Good Samaritans’ Right Protection Regulation, is hardly comprehensive, but it can be considered a step in the right direction.

Show Me The Proof

NBCNews: Good Samaritans pay the price for rescue gone wrong
DailyMail: Two-year-old run over TWICE as dozens of people ignored her lying in the road succumbs to her injuries
International Business Times: Chinese City To Roll Out New ‘Good Samaritan Law’ In Hopes Of Encouraging Positive Morals