Washington International Law Journal


Melody W. Young


Can money motivate heroic deeds? China believes so. After Xu XX v. Peng Yu developed a poor judicial precedent that lowered the evidentiary bar for plaintiffs in a personal injury claim, the media’s focus on the controversial reasoning of the case created public fear of civil liability. High-profile media attention on similar events that followed reinforced the fears that the Peng Yu case engendered and chilled helping behavior in China. Yet, a tragic hit-and-run accident involving a two-year-old child in Foshan, China reinvigorated the discourse on the restoration of helping behavior in China. Guangdong Province proposed new legislation to counteract the moral apathy prevalent in its cities. This legislation, however, is insufficient in changing social behavior, as it only offers monetary coverage for property damaged in the act of rescue. The regulation fails to address the deficiencies of the judicial system in reaching a true and fair decision. This comment analyzes the impact of the Peng Yu case in causing China’s declining helping behavior. In order to reestablish and encourage helping behavior in China, this comment argues that the government should protect the public from civil liability and restore the public’s lost faith in the justice system.

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