www.whyville.net Jan 16, 2004 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

The Death of a Chinese Peasant

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It was a day just like any other. Right? Well, not really.

That day, two motorists argued after a small collision. As they talked, a small crowd appeared. And as one person in the crowd attempted to leave, her car lunged forward! Doing so, it killed a bystander and injured a dozen others, right before crashing into a tree.

After a few months, the driver paid damages to the victims. Pleading inexperience behind the wheel, she expressed remorse in court. A judge on Oct. 16 ruled and found the woman guilty of "causing a traffic disturbance" and gave her a suspended sentence.

The story might have ended there, but there were a few details that intrigued Chinese journalists. The defendant was driving a new, metallic silver BMW sport-utility vehicle. The other motorist was a peasant, operating an old tractor loaded with a harvest of green onions; the person that was killed was the peasant's wife.

Even nowadays, people in China still see the poor and the rich VERY differently. Faith in the courts is low, and the increasingly profit-driven state media are hungry for stories. Thus, Chinese journalists were on the story for days.

Although I don't think the story is really not so interesting compared to the stories we here have in America (suicide, terrorism, etc.), the northeastern city of Harbin, China turned into a place that went from normal town to a national press obsession!

In newspapers, on television and on the Internet, people across the country are talking about this dilemma. This case is now commonly referred to as "The BMW Case."

Editor's Note: Here's a review article I found on this incident! http://www.asianresearch.org/articles/1807.html


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