In China, Doing a Good Deed Can Lead to Misery

Wood engraving from 'The farmer and the snake.'

Two modern-day stories from China show how kind people suffered after helping the villainous, just like the farmer in Aesop's fable. (Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia)

“The Farmer and the Snake” is one of Aesop’s Fables, which contains many lessons and great wisdom. As this story goes, on a chilly winter’s night a farmer found a frozen snake along the roadside. The man took pity on the snake and put it on his chest to warm it up. When the snake woke up, it bit the farmer’s chest ferociously, poisoning him. The farmer’s good deed led to his death. 

In fact, there are such stories to be found in modern society today, and they give one the chills.  

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Dr. Lee’s good deed

In June 2022, a clinic in Guangzhou, China, posted an emergency message saying that Dr. Lee treated a patient at his clinic who had a fever. 

While a physician treating a patient with a fever at his clinic would be commonplace in any other country, things in China are not so simple and straightforward.

It is well-known that China has implemented a “zero-COVID policy.” To stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the supervising health authority of Guangzhou ruled that any medical institutes that had not set up fever clinics could not treat any patients who had a fever.  

Face mask and thermometer with tip touching the city of Wuhan, China, lay on top of a map.
Due to the ‘zero-COVID policy’ in China, medical institutes without a fever clinic are not allowed to treat patients with a fever. (Image: Okhoney91 via Dreamstime)

However, with the spread of the flu reaching its peak, fever clinics were always overly crowded, seeing 200-300 patients every day. One day, while working at a facility that did not have a fever clinic, Dr. Lee saw an ill boy with a fever. The boy’s pain and discomfort broke his parent’s hearts, and they asked Dr. Lee to treat their son. But because it was against the rules, Dr. Lee refused them. After the parents repeatedly begged for his help, Dr. Lee felt for the boy and agreed to treat him.

However, after helping the boy and bringing down his fever, the parents reported Dr. Lee to the authorities for violating the rule. Soon, the local health authorities came to the clinic to conduct an investigation, then posted the above-mentioned message.

Some people may say that good people are getting to be fewer and fewer nowadays. Why is this the case? It’s because doing a good deed often has high risks and might cost a person their future.

Motorcyclist Wu Weiqing’s good deed led to his death

On December 31, 2013, Wu Weiqing, a 46-year-old resident of Guangdong, China, was riding his motorcycle when he saw an elderly man fall to the ground. He stopped to help the old man stand up and check to see if he had any injuries. Suddenly the old man cried out: “It was you who hit me! You did this to me and should be held responsible!”

Wu could do nothing but send the old man to the hospital and pay the examination fee. However, this brought him even more trouble. Since the old man insisted that he was hit by Wu, the man’s family members were very angry and stopped Wu from leaving. Wu had to give them another US$450 for further examination. Before he left, the family members spoke harshly: “All medical fees in the future should be paid by you!”  

Wu left the hospital in a trance. He could not figure out how things ended up this way when he only wanted to do a good deed and help the old man. Wu reported it to the police, but the power to the street monitor had been cut because of ongoing construction, so there was no proof of his innocence. The police checked his motorcycle and found no signs of a collision or fibers from clothing, which was the only proof that he had not hit the man. 

The good deed of a motorcyclist led to his committing suicide.
The police checked his motorcycle and found no signs of a collision or fibers from clothing, the only proof that he had not hit the man. (Image: Tonyv3112 via Dreamstime)

But the old man’s family would not accept it. They said: “Even if Wu did not hit the old man, he must have blown his horn and startled him, causing him to fall. If Wu was innocent, then why did he help the old man stand up and send him to the hospital, even paying for his medical fee? Wasn’t it because he knew he was guilty?”

Wu did not expect to get back the money he paid for the old man. He only hoped that the whole event would come to a close, and that he could put it all behind him. However, the old man’s family members soon called him to ask for US$200,000 in compensation; otherwise, they would go to his house every day to make trouble for him.

Wu called his friends and relatives, telling them that he was innocent. He knew that if he did not give the old man’s family US$200,000 he would not have peace for the rest of his life. But he did not have that much money, and he really did not hit that old man. Wu did not know what to do. On the second day of the New Year, Wu committed suicide by jumping into a pond.

After Wu’s death, the old man admitted that he fell down on his own, but when asked by the police, he denied it. The old man’s family members also denied that they had asked for US$200,000 in compensation, and even commented that Wu was too weak to face the consequences of his actions.

In this case, one who did a good deed was forced into an impossible situation and felt the only option was to take his own life, while those who blackmailed a good person did not pay for their crime. 

These stories provide an important lesson: If a society does not allow people to do good deeds and everyone thinks only of protecting themselves, all of society will become a cold, desolate, and indifferent environment. 

The hope for mankind lies in each person looking at his own heart, doing the right thing, and thinking of others first.

Translated by Audrey Wang

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