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.
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.