What’s a life worth? 生命的价值是多少?

I’m definitely not much of a saint. I try, but living in China can sometimes makes me realize we need more saints in this world. I love this country but some days I just have to scratch my head and ask “why?” Often times I’ll never get answers to those questions because so many here are taught never to ask “why?” I’ve been here awhile now, seen a lot of things, and gotten to know this culture pretty well. But the hardest thing to get used to is how the general public views the value of a human life. The average family unit in China is rock solid. They take care of their own, work hard to ensure their offspring’s 幸ç¦? (xing fu = health & happiness), and usually go above and beyond to help close family out. But outside one’s own family, generally speaking, the spirit of volunteerism is almost non-existent. If you talked to a Chinese national about a non-profit company or a charity to help the homeless, you’d probably get a lot of blank stares as very few here have ever been involved with such a thing. For a communist/socialistic republic, there are sure a lot of people left in the dust because of an almost complete lack of social programs to help out those in need.

If it’s one battle I would love to fight here its this one: life is valuable. If you witness an accident in China, you will certainly see two things: 1. someone severely injured and 2. a large crowd gathered around watching to see what happens. If you want to help the person who is an inch from death, then you must also assume responsibility for that person, often times including medical bills and legal repurcusions. So most people won’t blink an eye or risk their tail to prevent a loss of life, even though some times it can be prevented. Timing is everything, one minute this way or that could mean life or death. It’s messed up and totally backwards from my home in America, where if you DON’T help the injured person, you could be held liable. And if you decide to be the good Samaritan and help out, well we have the good Samaritan law to protect you from any legal ramifications. I’m not trying to toot America’s proverbial horn, but if someone is about to die and you can stop it, we need to help them! No matter what country or what culture you’re in!

I submit to you story of little Yueyue. Last Wednesday this little girl was walking around unattended by her parents (that’s another story altogether) and was run over by a truck at a gas station. The gruesome events were recorded by an outdoor station camera. Please watch only if you have the stomach for it. It’s a Chinese site, so it will take awhile to load, but it’s really quite astonishing what happens next.

You tube watchers in the states may have better luck here


For those of you who don’t want to watch, I’ll just give you a brief recap. She wanders across the road and a truck hits her and runs her over with the front passenger side tire, but he pauses after the front tire rolls over her, then proceeds to pull away running her over with the rear tire as well. Then you watch as minutes go by, and people walk right by the girl, cars and bikes both drive by, glance at her and keep going. Now I’m no doctor, but a 2 year old lying bloody and flattened in the street squirming for her life probably needs some medical assistance. And then, just when you think it can’t get any worse, another truck comes by and runs over her again! Altogether 18 pedestrians/drivers pass within inches or feet of her, never considering to stop and help. In several cases they walked/drove around her!!! I can honestly say she would grab my attention! But would I do anything about it? Of course I would! I think a lot of people would, but that’s where exists a great divide in culture between China and other countries; you look out for yourself and your family, but mostly just yourself. Finally a lady who was collecting garbage saw her and pulled her off the road, found the mother who frantically picked up her lifeless daughter and rushed to the hospital. The latest report is that little Yueyue is still in critical condition but is improving.


To quote the last line of the above article where the driver who originally hit Yueyue was speaking to the media: “If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan ($3,125). But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands yuan.” Yup…..that about sums it up perfectly over here in China, the mentality that I pray will change as we learn to live not for ourselves, but for something much greater. What’s the value of life in your country?


  1. Luckily the urge to help others is lifted up here in America, but we all know that urge has come from Somewhere different than America culture, it’s just that Something else has to an extent positively impacted the culture as it comes to the welfare of others. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the value of life is not much different here as the circle extends from our family to those near us but not much farther, and in many cases definitely not across the world.

    I’m glad that this story got attention 🙂 That is very hopeful and maybe some will see or hear of it and ask why, or ask what they themselves would have done.

    • Ya you’re totally right, I just got caught up in the moment. It’s totally not a ‘China’ or ‘America’ thing, it’s a sin issue and I’m sure much worse has happened in the states. We have our own atrocities we are responsible for, and God knows we let all kinds of people slip through the cracks as well. But when you see something like that, it just makes you go “what the crap were they thinking?” I mean 18 people, that’s just nuts!

      • I don’t think you got TOO caught up – it definitely is to an extent a China-America thing because I know this Yueyue incident is not isolated and happens much more rarely in the US. The comparisons are important though so we can try to take the best of both and make a better community and society and I’m glad you point them out. The Yueyue story got some press here but not much. There are tons of things I loved about China but being injured and at the mercy of passing strangers would NOT be one of them!

  2. Update: Little Yueyue passed away.

    • I heard that :-/ I also heard the lady that helped ended up having to move out of town because people were accusing her of doing it for the fame and press?! I know the story got some pub in China – have you heard any native opinions? Do you think more people will come across those situations and think twice or reinforced fear of helping?

  3. Even in good ol usa we can turn the blind eye to one in need. Oh for the Heart of God to enter in and bring compassion were fear or indeference abound. Pray for China and all the lost of the world.

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