Chinese Drivers Kill People They’ve Hit Because Of Communism

BMW driver runs over kid.

Just read an interesting blog post1 by someone who describes himself as “[a] government IT employee working in Beijing” commenting on the phenomenon in China where motorists who have hit someone will then proceed to ruthlessly run that person over and over again until the victim is unquestionably dead:

Around 60,000 Chinese died in car accidents in a year. It’s not a big number considering the base population and the road conditions. Therefore, a person died from a car accident is not news worthy. What is news worthy though, is the current trend of killing a person through means of repeated crushing, often recorded by video cameras.

In this 2006 incident (video: http://www.56.com/u48/v_MTc4MjgyOQ.html) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, an old lady was run over 5 times. January 20, 2009, A car ran over a 2 years old girl three times (video: http://video.sina.com.cn/p/news/s/v/2009-01-21/094360241336.html) in Ji’nan, Shangdong Province. September 13, 2010, a 3 years old boy was run over 4 times by a BMW driven by a CCP official. September 19, 2010, a man was run over three times (video: http://www.56.com/u97/v_NTQ5ODg0NzA.html) by an Audi.

None involved was ever charged murder, including the case when the lady was killed after being run over 5 times. In the recent case when the 3 years old boy was killed after being run over 4 times by a communist official, the police of Jiangsu even refused to press criminal charge, not after a through investigation, but moments after the accident before any investigation.

In many cases, the driver was seen by camera to get down to check the victim. When realizing the victim was not dead, get on the car and then run over the victim for as many times as necessary of a guaranteed kill. Some then drove away, some then calmly stayed for police.

I reckon most of my readers here at china/divide will probably have this fresh in their minds, thanks to the recent chinaSMACK post about the a BMW driver accused of killing a 3-year-old kid mentioned above2. Some of you may have already loaded up the links above but you’re going to be as disappointed as I am because only one of the three shows any meaningful footage, and even then, it is arguable as to whether or not there was any intent to kill. Even so, urban legend quality stories of motorists getting away with murder are well-known amongst Chinese people because, unfortunately, such disgustingly unjust things do indeed happen sometimes in China when wealthy or connected people are involved.

But why?

The problem lies deeper than the lack of ethics of communist regime. Many Chinese drivers feel empathy with those who run over repeatedly. Even many media share the same sentiment, but blame the insurance and road traffic law for the drivers confusion. The theory was a driver would risk paying more on a wounded victim then a dead victim. The key issue here is, many people and the media consciously give up a basic moral value, but measure everything with money. ‘Cost’, instead of ‘value’ becomes the sole component of social architecture. Killing becomes acceptable when it saves cost.

Wait, why does this problem have anything to do with a communist regime? As far as I know, there is nothing about communism — or even China’s version of it — that stipulates that one should shift into reverse, back up, and run over someone again after you’ve accidentally hit them with your car. Yes, the key issue is that people are violating a “basic moral value” (that life is precious) and measuring something with money (that life is more expensive to me alive and injured than dead), but this has nothing to do with communism. No, this isn’t an semantic objection, this is an objection to an irrelevant implication, one that isn’t remotely useful for understanding why this happens.

Yes, when someone decides to kill off someone they’ve hit because they calculated that it is less financial risk or cost to them, that is indeed someone consciously violating some basic moral value about the sanctity of human life. Yes, that is them placing their money, even convenience, above another person’s life. But again, this has nothing to do with communism. People have been calculating other people’s lives against their own interests in every country and society throughout history up to this day. It sucks but, hey, that’s life.

No, to the extent that some people are getting away with murder (not just manslaughter) has much less to do with any communist “social architecture” and everything to do with laws and the enforcement of such laws. Criticizing other people’s “morals” is a fool’s errand. They don’t care what you think about them calculating the costs of their actions but they do care about the costs of their actions. As with so many of the social ills endemic to modern China, we could use less moral chastising of those who have done bad things and more progress towards consistent and reliable enforcement of legal consequences. If we don’t want people repeatedly running over people they’ve hit, make the civil and criminal costs of doing so higher than the costs of not doing so.

It’s one thing to encourage morality but it’s another thing — a foolish thing — to bet on it. Don’t fight self-interest. Work with it.

This is an extension of the communist believe occupied China in the past, when the loyalty to the Party is the No. 1 virtue over everything else including value of life. Only that loyalty to money replaces loyalty to the Party. Not surprisingly, the new communist Party is controlled not by a shared belief of communism, but by a sharing of social resource.

No, this is not an extension of any communist beliefs that occupied China in the past. No, this has nothing to do with any virtues associated with loyalty to the Party. No, loyalty to money did not replace loyalty to the Party. Stop trying to blame the nominally communist government of China for being what it is because that is not the reason the problems of materialism, greed, or ruthless self-interest exist. Instead, blame the government for what it does (or rather, what it doesn’t do) to manage those problems. The identity is not the key here, but the actions. What are we going to do when this happens in non-communist societies? Who do we blame then? No, the association with communism is unhelpful at best and petty politicking at the worst.

The phenomenon of some people choosing to kill someone they’ve hit instead of letting them live to avoid possible financial costs is terrible. However, trying to tie its occurrence with “communism” is senseless conflation that doesn’t get us anywhere.


  1. via David Yang on Google Buzz, thanks. []
  2. I wasn’t aware of the driver being a CCP official (was he?) but after watching the video, I’m not surprised Jiangsu police didn’t press criminal charges. []



16 Comments

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  1. Tim

    -+

    Kai,

    I have heard tell through colleagues this urban myth that it is economically better to ensure the guy you just ran over is dead than injured. It’s usually casually related as a truth of life in China and this post appears to be written to twist this into a tale about the perversion of pragmatic communism.

    How does he know that the driver empathizes with the poor sod who he’s flattening?

    What’s insidious about this post is the way he excuses the individual then weaves a fascinating syllogim that concludes the new CCP’s twisted sense of shared resrources is to blame.

    Huh?

    But the post dies before he even gets there:

    “Around 60,000 Chinese died in car accidents in a year. It’s not a big number considering the base population and the road conditions.”

    IT guy missed his numbers off the bat.

    China has one of the highest per vehicle deaths in the world and a quick search on the web will generate a number anywhere between 100,000 to about 200,000 deaths a year depending on whose numbers support your argument.

    Seems like quite a few shared resources being wasted there.

    • -+

      Tim,

      I’m assuming the writer is local Chinese with pretty decent and totally functional English language skills. As such, I think his “feel empathy” comment means that many people empathize with the driver choosing to kill the person he hit because they understand that insurance and traffic laws in China might make that the less financially costly option. I don’t think he meant that the driver empathizes with the person he’s flattening.

  2. lolz

    -+

    Yes, communism is the ultimate boogeyman for many citizens of western nations. Although with this case it’s more like greed, characteristics of capitalism, which is more likely to be the motive in the killings, the sheeples will blame communism anyway :)

    Personally I still find it to be odd that people would kill though. From what I have personally witnessed and heard from others, accidents in China are typically resolved as both parties settle right there at the accident scene (with a large mob around them arguing) without going through insurance and all that. Many times this means that the cost of car accidents are minimal (typically the rich guy in nice cars screws over the poor guy on foot/bike), you are dealing with maybe a few hundred yuan, but nothing over ten thousand yuan. Healthcare in China is cheap. Whereas if you do kill someone, there can be a lot more risk not to mention the fact that it’s likely to cost you more (if you can do your math quickly enough in your head after you run over someone, that is).

    I think these killings have to do with people who have power trips thinking that they are above the law. There are plenty of these people in China, but that’s an entirely different issue.

    • -+

      I’m not sure if it needs to be said but I think the writer of the post I quote is actually Chinese and not a Westerner.

      The issue he’s commenting on also isn’t when people get into a minor accident, but when someone has realized that they’ve just hit and run over someone and are trying to figure out if they should try saving the guy or finishing the job.

      You are right though that most minor accidents are settled on the spot by cash exchanged between the parties involved.

  3. Bin Wang

    -+

    From a certain perspective, I think this is true anywhere. I’d be willing to bet that total payouts in wrongful death suits are less than total payouts in suits where the grievously injured party sues for actual medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc. As a defendant, I’d much rather not have the guy there in his wheelchair in front of a jury and have the calculations remain in the hypothetical, as would be the case if the guy were dead.

    That said, the problem is, if anyone actually did that cold-blooded calculation here in the U.S., you’d have criminal charges for murder, whereas in China, these party officials are de facto above the law and can do as they please. This is and isn’t related to communism. The cold-blooded calculation isn’t and would hold true anywhere. The problem is, in China, there are many instances where officials are above the law, and that may be related to the corruption that’s plagued the CPC, esp. at the local level, for decades.

    Beijing needs to make a few examples of these callous fat pigs sitting in their Mercedes.

    • -+

      Being above the law due to connections or wealth still has nothing to do with communism or any concept of communism historically advocated in China. I was wondering if Brother Chang, the writer, was using “communist” as shorthand for “corrupt legal environment in China” but reading his subsequent comments, I don’t think so. Moreover, it isn’t just government officials in these stories, but rich people too. Therefore, there’s even less connection with any “communist” aspect. I think he’s just drawing a weak, even false, connection given his pre-existing criticisms of the “communist” government.

  4. King Tubby

    -+-2

    Why connect this urban belief with communism, since it is patently obvious to Blind Charlie’s Horse that the CP no longer implements Marxian policies and programs, whilst retaining and greatly improving on Leninist elitism and discipline, really effective social control and a total belief of its central place in China’s recent history.

    More to the point is how this urban belief …corrodes and skews …the recent development of civil society in China. This corrosion, suspicion and class resentment evident on a number of fronts, I won’t spell them out, explains why China spends a significant part of its GDP on internal policing and population security management

    Kai’s point (if I have characterised it correctly) about the need to develop the ROL and civil processses which automatically kick in irrespective of the offender in question, fails to include the larger civil society context mentioned above.

    • -+

      I believe rule of law and the “larger civil society context” are ultimately mutually dependent, as in they feed and reinforce each other. My goal in writing this post wasn’t to tackle the intersect between civil society and rule of law, but to just explain why I think this guy’s blog post didn’t add up for me.

      • King Tubby

        -+

        Just my context kicking in, Kai, since the future trajectory of that interface is going to have important consequences for good or ill.

        I compiled a list of tags for Chinese civil society yesterday and began on an apolitical note with QQ and car clubs,…..,….

        Will wait for a more auspicious op piece to promote my context.

  5. S.K. Cheung

    -++5

    This is at once an intriguing yet bizarre story. I agree with others that it seems to have nothing to do with “communism”, and it really detracts from the legitimate lessons of the story when someone on a soapbox tries to forcibly insert a square peg into a round hole rather than letting the peg speak for itself.

    This has, as others have noted, everything to do with the rule of law, or rather, the noticeable lack thereof in China. At the same time, one can’t legislate morality. If a Party member “wants” to be a complete son-of-a-bitch, and “thinks” that it’s better to intentionally kill a guy instead of paying up for his injuries, well, that’s his gig. Laws don’t prevent people from thinking like a bastard. But when the guy with the bastardly thoughts goes out and acts on them, that’s when the law needs to step in and provide consequences so as to deter the next son-of-a-bitch. And that’s where the Chinese system falls down on its face.

    No matter how China’s system of governance evolves over time, cases such as those described here illustrate how far she still has to go in terms of providing law and order for her people (and of course I’m not referring to the law and order that is readily on tap when it comes to dealing with “activists”).

  6. Jones

    -+-1

    That tank driver did not run over the Tank Man, so I don’t really attribute any other vehicular manslaughter to Communism.

  7. S.K. Cheung

    -+

    Sorry about the expletives, Kai. I thought the moral depravity displayed by these individuals deserved some strong descriptors, but also wanted to make sure it was only PG. At the same time, I’m not one for all the symbols…that’s just swearing without the cajones to actually say it. I figure, as an adult, one should mean what one says, and say what one means, without being gratuitously offensive. Hope I didn’t cross any lines.

    • -+

      No, I was actually expressing my admiration for how skillfully you used them. There’s an art to it, about timing or something. I liked them. No lines crossed, no worries.