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.”