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Chinese people's 'none of my business' attitude

Posted May. 11, 2017 07:32,   

Updated May. 11, 2017 07:34


A long time ago in China, a farmer was raising a dog and a cat. Although rats were eating grains in the house, the lazy cat did not catch them. One day, the dog got impatient and caught all the vermin. The cat was hailing over the heap of dead rodents when the farmer returned home. Giving the cat a fish for a prize, the farmer kicked the dog, which was sleeping after doing the hard work of the catching the rats. The Chinese idiom saying "A dog trying to catch mice–too meddlesome" originated from that ancient episode, reflecting the Chinese people's thinking that one can suffer from doing a good thing.

When I visited China for the first time in 1999, I was surprised to see people merely watching a fallen biker who was bleeding in his head. Police officers directing traffic at the scene did not offer a helping hand, either. The biker was left unattended until an ambulance arrived. Such a situation is not rare in China. In Hangzhou six years ago, people did not save a girl drowning in a lake. A Uruguayan tourist jumped into the water to save the girl, receiving praise from the Chinese media.

The Chinese media often criticize the "none of my business" attitude among the Chinese people. However, the spread of individualism following China's opening and reform has intensified such selfishness. Chinese writer Lin Yutang (1895-1976) attributed the selfishness to the Chinese people's experience of not having been protected by law, as many Chinese people suffered from losses by meddling in others' business in a country that had often been under the rule by other ethnic groups. Some others blame the Cultural Revolution, during which children accused their parents or students condemned their teachers.

A school bus carrying South Korean kindergartners in China caught fire inside a tunnel in Weihai, Shandong Province, killing 11 kids. South Korean Internet users lament Chinese citizen's indifference, saying that had other drivers stopped and broken the bus windows, everyone could have been saved. Chinese President Xi Jinping unusually offered direct condolences to the bereaved families and ordered a thorough investigation into the accident. Perhaps, Beijing should consider holding a public campaign against the indifference to other people in distress.