December 1st, 2011
02:59 PM ET

China on route to see its first Good Samaritan law

When it comes to Good Samaritans in China, “to be or not to be” is a constant struggle.

If you are among the many residents who worry about becoming a victim of fraud after helping people in need, we’ve got some good news for you.

China is preparing its very first Good Samaritan law to protect bystanders who choose to rescue a stranger in distress. According to Guangzhou Daily, officials in the southern city of Shenzhen are soliciting public opinions on a draft of a local Good Samaritan regulation designed to encourage altruism.

The draft follows the tragic death of Yue Yue, a two-year-old girl who was ignored by passers-by as she lay dying in a busy street in October. Graphic footage of the toddler’s death triggered widespread discussion of the “prevalent apathy” in Chinese societies. Many called for a new law to tackle the culture of avoidance and eliminate scams to accuse well-intentioned citizens.

Shenzhen became the first to react. 

The draft frees 'Good Samaritans' from legal liability for the condition of the person they help, except in the case of gross negligence. The burden of proving any negligence would rest with the rescued party. Click here for more details on the law, including criminal prosecution for fraud and government compensation for rescuers.

As with all major announcements, netizens are buzzing with opinions on China’s most popular micro-blogging portal Sina Weibo. While many supported the draft, some acknowledged the unfortunate necessity for a Good Samaritan law in China. One user, @YiWuZhiMing (以吾之螟), commented: “Given the current social norm in China, perhaps establishing a legal statute is the only way to protect the remaining conscience and morality here.”

Another user hoped the law could shape a better China. @2010GuYue (2010古月) wrote: “The tragedy of Chinese education! I fully support the Good Samaritan law: it is acceptable to not leave your name after doing good deeds, but it is never acceptable to be wrongly accused. We cannot let our future generations think that it is difficult to be a decent person.”

However, not all are in favor of a Good Samaritan law. Some netizens argued the measure could never resolve China’s deeply rooted problem. @QingFengZaiQi (清风再起) lamented: “Broken system, demoralized society, fallen ethics, forgotten faith. No matter how many laws are implemented, it’ll be useless.”

Despite these two camps of online voices, a majority of netizens seemed to resonate with @zslinli00’s sentiment: “Although a Good Samaritan regulation has positive implications, it is rather saddening that our country needs a formal law to encourage moral acts. Our ethics have deteriorated to such a low. Where did conscience and morality go? I wish this law will lead to more decent citizens and eliminate those with ill-will.”

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Beth

    What were the parents doing the whole time ?! How did they let a little kid run out in front of traffic? Parents like that shouldn't have any kids if they're too busy to take care of them. China is noted for not wanting little girls if they have more than two (as is the limit). The "overpopulation problem", as is addressed by the Chinese, is not addressed any more than a numerical limit. Now I'm no "expert' on the subject, and I don't feel a lot of us are, but really, don't they have daycare's in China? It seems some of the other morals they worry about slipping away already have! What are they having children for? Whom are parents like this trying to impress? In other countries, the parents would be in a lot of trouble, not just these drivers of the vans and others ignoring this injured child!

    December 2, 2011 at 5:06 am | Reply
  2. Ann Bint

    "Now I'm no "expert'... " Clearly you're not. Why don't you try researching some of your many questions before jumping to so many indignant conclusions?

    December 2, 2011 at 6:12 am | Reply
  3. watuzi

    same boat as here, in the Philippines. where such depravity occurs regulary as well/.

    December 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.