I was walking down the street yesterday when a car right in front of me pulled out and smashed straight into an electric bike. As the bike rider lay on the road moaning, I watched to see who would take charge. Nobody. The car driver started chatting to her husband. The traffic coming along the street bumped up on the kerb to get past. Onlookers stood around and stared. I'd heard before this is the typical reaction to accidents in China, but I'd not seen it up close before.
I grabbed a teenager who was having a look and asked him to call the police. "No phone", he replied. "Use mine" I said, removing my jumper to put under the victim's head. So he rang the police who, rather impressively, arrived within 5 minutes. "Get up!" they barked at the moped rider showing little sympathy. "My leg, my leg", she cried back and the cops finally relented and called for an ambulance. 5 minutes later my phone rang - a stranger asking for directions in Chinese. Luckily, I guessed it was the ambulance driver and passed my phone to the policemen, somewhat to his surprise! Once the ambulance arrived, I retrieved my phone and my jumper and headed off, a little shaken but with a new perspective on Chinese attitudes. A wise colleague of mine described it thus: Chinese friend/family ties are really strong, as is their patriotism for the country. But, in between those two, strangers get little respect or help. People feel their "duty" lies elsewhere. And for one unfortunate lady yesterday it lay in the road.
About the blogger
Past blog entries