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Car-Smashing Elder

August 27, 2009

There’s no “serious” think-piece today — I’m still working on two new pieces, one on the latest US-China trade dispute, and another evaluating the Renminbi’s prospects for becoming a global reserve currency.  In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a curious news item posted earlier this month on China Hush

Crossing busy streets in China often means taking your life into your own hands, and public outrage over pedestrian safety has been heightened by a rash of high-profile hit-and-run incidents in recent months.  Mr. Yan Zhengping is an elderly man in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province in northwestern China.  One evening, after he saw 14 cars run a red light and not stop for pedestrians at a busy crosswalk, Yan decided he had had enough.  He ran up behind the passing cars and started smashing them with a brick, making himself an instant hero to onlookers and people all over China who came to hear about the incident — and earning himself the nickname “Car-Smashing Elder.”

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I understand his frustration.  Before I heard about his story, I even pulled a Mr. Yan myself the other day — minus the brick — when I slapped a car that plowed through a busy crosswalk just outside a major Beijing hospital.  It’s actually more dangerous to cross when you have a green “walk” sign than when it’s red, because Chinese drivers think “right on red” means “go” and you can’t always see cars coming up that far right lane at full speed. 

So many people suffer so many affronts every day in China, in silence.  The China Hush writer notes that many people on the corner were upset, but most were “too afraid to do anything” or take responsibility for others’ safety.  Noting that “he did not smash the cars without limit” she concludes that “he can sure be respected and admired by the public.”

In any event, he sure beats the Bus Uncle.

Note:  You can access the original story on China Hush here.  PLEASE BE WARNED, however, that the linked page also contains violent graphic images of automobile accidents in China.  Readers who might find such images distressing are advised to use caution. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 8, 2009 8:46 pm

    Saw him on CCTV 12 the other day in a DUI discussion TV show. The respectful old man acknowledged that it is not the best way to deal with this issue and he just wanted to use this way to call for public attention, which he succeeded.

    China needs more responsible drivers and rule-abiding citizens.

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