Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Opinion / Kang Bing

It's a shame to accuse good Samaritans of being perpetrators

By Kang Bing | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-30 08:45
Share - WeChat
The Chongqing No 5 Intermediate People's Court carried out the executions of three killers in two high-profile cases on Wednesday. [Photo by Zhong Lijun/For China Daily]

My wife and I were walking to a subway station when we saw an old man sitting on the ground. A man and a woman, both in their 70s, were trying to help him stand up.

"We were passing by when we saw the old man lying face down, seemingly unconscious, in the bushes on the pavement. I managed to move him out of the bushes," the man in his 70s told us when we inquired about what had happened.

"I've got the old man's home phone number (from his mobile phone or ID card) and called his son several times but got no answer. I've also sought help from the police," the old lady said.

My wife and I decided to wait, hoping to do something to help the old man.

While comforting the old man and helping him drink some bottled water, we learned that he was 87 years old and his son was hearing impaired. He said he lived nearby and could walk back home if we helped him get up on his feet. But when he named the area where he lived, we realized he was in a daze, for the area was more than 10 kilometers away.

The man in his 70s said he had a sick wife to take care of at home, so we requested him go home. While my wife and the old lady tried to get some more information from the old man, I rushed to the nearby subway station where the police officers would likely stop their car when they came.

After I led the police car to the spot, my wife and the old lady passed on whatever information they had gathered from the old man to the police officers, who quickly decided to take the old man to the police station to get more clues from and take better care of him. We have no idea what happened to the old man after we helped the police officers get him into the police car. We hope he is alright and has been reunited with his family.

"I couldn't help lending a helping hand to the old man, although it could bring trouble. His condition reminded me of my mother's experience," my wife said later. Her 90-year-old mother had fallen down several times near her home in the past few years and each time she got help from kind-hearted neighbors.

The "trouble" my wife was worried about were blackmail cases involving accident victims and good Samaritans. In some cases, the victims have sued the persons who helped them, claiming the latter were responsible for their condition in the hope of getting compensation. In most such cases, the victims couldn't identify the real culprits.

For instance, an old woman who fell down and fractured her leg at a bus station in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, in 2006 sued a young man, claiming he was responsible for her injury, but the man said he had actually helped the old woman after she fell down. A local judge, however, ruled that the young man shoulder 40 percent of the cost of treatment, saying "if it were not you who knocked down the old lady, why did you take the trouble of helping her and sending her to the hospital."

The ruling sparked a public debate, with many people criticizing the judge for "lowering" the moral standards of society. There have been many reports in the following years of accident victims dying for want of timely medical treatment because people driving or walking by were afraid to help them lest they get into unnecessary trouble. In some cases, people have first made sure they have the evidence, such as videos or photos, to prove they are innocent before helping accident victims.

Such a society is certainly not what we want. The Nanjing judge was reportedly removed from his post, and the old woman and her family had to go into hiding after a public outcry. Since then, many local governments and social organizations have organized events to honor good Samaritans, hailing them as heroes and role models, and laws and regulations have been revised to better protect the rights of benefactors.

We are happy to have offered help to the old man. But we hope we are not dragged to court for that. Mutual help is a valuable tool for humans to tide over difficulties.

The author is former deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily.

If you have a specific expertise, or would like to share your thought about our stories, then send us your writings at, and

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349