4 primary school students die when rescuing classmate, is not to be applauded


Here is the translated news excerpt from Xinhua Net:

On Jun 26th, 4 primary school students swept away by a torrent when they linked arms by holding hands, rescuing one of their classmates. Xiao Shuai (alias) was one of the witnesses at the scene. That day, he and other 8 classmates rode bicycles to play at the beach of Lao Bi River. They were all six grade students at the local Chen Tai Primary School.

Some of them went into the shallow water, “But suddenly I heard someone shouted loudly for help, I turned back and found one of us was drowning in the deep water” said Xiao Shuai. Four boys nearby, Tai Dong, Zhang Yihu, Wen Peng and Zhang Keao held each others’ hands and went for the drowning boy, but none of them knew how to swim. Xiao Shuai continued, “They tried to reach him step by step, but finally they all fell into the deep water.” After that, Another 4 boys on shore hurried to continue the hand in hand rescuing.


Although the 8 heroes failed in their rescue, but the process was a great example of collectivism: they held each others’ hands, which means no abandoning and no giving up. And the rescue was quite solemn and stirring which pointed out the ultimate meaning of life. Because life is priceless, we cannot compare the living and the dead but no matter who survived and who sacrificed, they all indicate the beauty of life.

There is an old saying that man can only live a hundred years, but his fame will last for more than a thousand years. These innocent children may not yet learn to gauge the value of life and death, but they reached out their tiny arms with no thoughts of turning back when someone’s life was at stake. The story is highlighted on the “hand in hand” movement: every time they rescued their classmates, they held each other’s hand and linked arms. In their hearts, there is no technicality, no excuses for gain and losses, but one simple logic: To get everybody out safely.

Xinhua News agency and other national media such as CCTV are long known as reporting the positive side of a story and often lacking deeper thoughts on news. This news also was heavily discussed in forums such as Tianya, Phenix BBS and Baidu Tieba, where a senior critic Wei Yang Wolong’s commentary was viewed over 100,000 times. Below is the original commentary:

Nobody should applaud for it that the four children died for saving people

The journalist eulogized four boys which I cannot read any more. What’s that? Four little fellows died but no one was rescued? It’s already wrong not to introspect, but the journalist even promoted it positively, is he going to get more children killed? Is he bloodthirsty? What’s in his mind?

When the news was published in newspaper, it gained a lot of praises and applause. Almost everybody thought the boys as heroes and angels, but few truly thought about whether it was right or wrong and whether 4 lives were worth sacrificing. Actually, it is ignorant to save drowning classmate when they don’t have the ability to. It is also the failure of home education and responsibility of school education, because the boys knew nothing other than playing. Their parents must be idiots or fools for not informing them the danger of deep water and to let them play near the river knowing they don’t know how to swim.

One must have the strength and ability to become a hero. If we don’t teach children the ability to become heroes, how dare we encourage them to become heroes? To act according to one’s ability is how we should respect life. One is abusing heroism when he does not have the ability but insisting to save people.

To grow up safely is more important than success. To let children know themselves is more humane than making them heroes. The responsibility of a society should be taken up by the grown ups, not these children. A man with even a little conscience would know that it is a tragedy when 4 children trying to save one child but all of them ended up drowning. It should never be praised or encouraged. We should learn lessons from it and let our children learn more knowledge about safety and do what they are capable of doing. We should never write a long mews story to publicize it, to praise it and to make it heroic.

Everybody in the society, including parents and teachers should rethink whether this kind of encouragement is proper or not. Should our children mislead by this kind of blind heroism? When can we be less hypercritic and selfish? Humans are born as humans for the sake that we are humane, otherwise we are just animals. We must have guts to take our responsibility and duty than using our power to put risk onto someone else. Encouraging the children who cannot swim to save people is the most shameful education in the world!


(Illustration art by Brian Chang)

  1. It’s obviously stupid to attempt rescue if you are just as likely to be a casualty. But they are kids, and the fact that they even thought of attempting a rescue makes this a spirit worth promoting, in a country where people are rendered so insensitive by the legal loopholes.

    CCTV didnt do a good job introspecting, well ya, average tv reports lasts seconds. It’s not their job, neither their boss or the viewers expects in-depth thoughts from a 15sec tv segment. Heck, blind heroism is better than no heroism.

    But the commentator made a good point there – education, kids are smarter than you think, and so I don’t suppose a major curriculum change is gonna stem from this one event. Just tell them don’t do anything stupid and they’ll probably understand the moral behind the story.

    Anyways, social problems are very interwoven and not worth commenting on which specific aspect needs a upgrade, they all do.

  2. The kids actions are directly resulted from the education they received in school…the exact same mentality that pushed the News agency to write those eulogizing reports. The kids are not heroes but a fail product of the Chinese communist education…an education that does not reflect a bit of the reality and does not respect human nature itself.

    1. Stop blaming the schools. The parnets of these kids don’t need to have kids if they depend on schools to be parents. Teach your kids caution for their environment, Don’t touch the oven, too much water can kill you (this can be very true on many levels in Mainland) stay away from stray dogs, don’t talk to stranger, fight for yourself, etc. Parents are supposed to re-affirm what the schools are teaching are applicable in everyday life.


  4. I hope that one day China will become a country that doesn’t need heroes.
    Calm and happy life for everyone.
    And if someone needs to be rescued – it will be done by not-corrupted police…

    1. I think you got serious issues with China in general, but where the hell does police come into picture? Fix-Up please 🙂

      1. I think she means that China should be a country where you can actually depend on the cops/rescuers to do their bloody jobs instead of sitting in restaurants, eating and collecting bribes.

        Hence, a lesser need for “heroes” to do the jobs of the police for them.

        1. Which is why almost all Western nations have much higher crime rates, much higher incarceration rates, and everything else in between.

          Maybe once China gets a better funded police force they can start picking you monkeys out of trees.

          1. Their police force is funded pretty well already. Even low level cops get some pretty decent bribes.

            As for why we Western nations have such high crime rates, it’s because we actually keep accurate records. China doesn’t. That’s if they bother recording them at all. Cities with high crime rates look bad, and city officials will make sure that doesn’t happen. Also, we actually incarcerate people…and let them right back out again..so they can be given a chance to go right back to prison. That’s one thing i like about China. Cheap, efficient death sentences when it’s merited. And they don’t spend over $40,000 USD per inmate to keep them fed and imprisoned. We are too bloody liberal. It’s never the criminals fault. Only prob with China’s system is that it’s so easy to abuse(for those with power). Can’t have everything yaknow.

            BTW, there are many more heroes in the US than in China. Being a good samaritan is far more common here. In China, people know that trying to be a hero usually gets you F’ed.

  5. You @#&$ing morons. While it is tragic the children died, they did so with honour. They were trying to save the life of another human being. Oh, I forgot this is China where life is meaningless. If anyone of you were in this situation I am sure you would be praying for peolple like these children to try and save your life. It is the responsibilty of everyone to at least try.

    1. These are 6th grade students here. The human spirit/courage is to be hailed and applauded.

      But the sheer stupidity is just embarrassing. Was i even remotely this stupid in 6th grade? Hell no. We are talking KIDS that CAN’T swim. We are talking about a fast moving current.

      What is so difficult about trying to find some kind of rope/extension/branches to try and toss to the kid that needed rescuing. Or maybe they were never taught that kind of “common” sense, by parents or schools. /sigh
      Just a senseless waste of life.

      1. I hear only Chinese people drown. In 6th grade Westerners are having sex with adult men, getting pregnant, and spreading AIDS.

        Dying to drowning is too good for you.

  6. why should someone applauded over something like this!?

    it was courageous of what the kids did, but cost them their lives man:/

  7. ………… Having read the article and some of the comments, I’m assuming that the vast majority of readers here will be more than pleased if the article somehow said “four kids watch classmate drown without attempting rescue” ?
    I’m pretty sure if that happened then korean_guy will be having a field day, mocking Chinese on their “cowardness”.

    So make up your minds, do you want Chinese to be seen as brave and courageous or coward and timid? The CCTV article clearly tries to portray Chinese as the former, which I think is better than some of the defeatist and self pitying UK shows I’ve seen.

    1. How about attempting to rescue the drowning kid in an intelligent/common sense manner vs suicidal manner? I will say it again. 6th graders shouldn’t be that stupid…..so maybe some of the detractors here do have a point, concerning the kind of education the kids receive.

      But then, it would never have made any kind of news at all. It’s only reported due to the controversy brewed up (heroics vs stupidity).

  8. This is sad that they did not make it. Even though they are no longer alive, I believe their souls have passed on and are with God. They are in a better place.

    (please don’t reply to me with atheist or agnostic remarks, everyone is entitled to their own opinion)

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