'We will drive away cold-heartedness'
Nearly 200 people gathered yesterday at an alley in Foshan - where a toddler was run over twice by vans and then ignored by 18 passers-by - to give strangers free hugs and declare 'war' on social apathy and cold-heartedness.
Two-year-old Wang Yue - nicknamed Yueyue by her family - died in Guangdong on Friday.
The crowd of nearly 200 people were responding to an online message sent on Saturday evening by a Foshan motivational speaker calling on citizens to gather at the metal hardware wholesale market where she was run over on October 13.
Yueyue died from multiple organ failure and severe brain damage sustained when she was run over by the two vehicles and left lying in her own blood. A total of 18 people walked past in the first seven minutes, as shown on closed-circuit television footage, but no one offered help until an elderly woman pulled her aside and located her mother.
The girl staged a strong fight in the hospital's intensive care unit but eventually died.
Holding banners and placards yesterday, the huggers observed one minute of silence for Yueyue before reading out a page-long declaration vowing to make a difference with their actions to spread love around.
'That one moment of coldness spread across the country and became everyone's wound,' the group shouted.
'If it were you or me on that day, we would have at least stopped and pulled her aside. We would at least have lent a helping hand to ask for help, call the police and protect her.
'We will not complain about the powerless legal system or degraded morality ... Starting with me, we will spread warmth around and drive away cold-heartedness.'
Hu Zhiyong, 41, who recently moved with his two-year-old son, Hu Zaixin, to Guangzhou from Anhui province, said this tragedy and others such as the tainted milk powder scandal wouldn't have occurred if society was more caring.
'I can't demand that others change, but I can start making a difference myself. My power might be tiny, but it will be passed on and multiplied to have a big impact,' Hu said.
He Qihui, 27, of Foshan, said he was saddened to see how fellow residents of the city had behaved.
'I will use my action to prove that Foshan and its people are not cold-hearted,' He said.
Liu Minglei, 24, a shop owner in the market from Yueyue's hometown in Liaocheng, Shandong province, said: 'I'm in great pain, as it feels like the accident has happened to me, because the girl is one of my own people.'
The girl's death has given rise to a spate of national soul-searching. On Saturday, more than 10,000 Guangzhou residents mourned her with slogans and pictures denouncing cold-heartedness in society and advocating safe driving, the Guangzhou Daily reported.