Outrage over video of blocked fire engine

2012-02-21 11:23

Beijing – A short film showing car drivers in Beijing refusing to give way to a fire engine has gone viral online and renewed concern over increasingly selfish behaviour patterns in fast-developing China.

The amateur video – filmed on Thursday in an area of Beijing where a noodle restaurant was on fire – has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of netizens and has been widely featured in newspapers and on television.

It shows a fire engine attempting to get through traffic – sirens and flashing lights on – but none of the cars make way and some even pull over in front of the vehicle, blocking its way.

Later, other cars blocking the road refuse to make way by doing a u-turn when they clearly have the opportunity to do so, and the fire engine stays stuck in traffic – a scene not unusual in Beijing.

The video, which has already been viewed more than 1.2 million times has sparked strong indignation and concern over the “selfishness” of China’s drivers.

“The 5 000 years of history and civilisation of our heavenly dynasty,” one netizen named Kuandiangeiwo wrote ironically.

“If one person doesn’t give way it’s a moral shortcoming, but if two people don’t make way it’s the sorrow of the community,” another said.

Online users have even posted videos filmed in Germany or Russia showing cars pulling over on roads and highways to make way for emergency vehicles, in a bid to illustrate what happens in other countries.

There has been much soul-searching in China about a perceived rise in selfish behaviour after footage from a security camera showing people ignoring a toddler lying in the road unconscious and bleeding shocked the country.

The two-year-old Yue Yue later died in hospital, and the incident in October sparked strong condemnation and concern that China’s rapid development and urbanisation has seen people lose their sense of shared values.

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