Outcry as another migrant worker dies in Zhengzhou

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 December, 2012, 3:52pm

Following the death of migrant worker Liu Hongwei last month, another worker was found dead under the same bridge in Zhengzhou on Thursday. Zhengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau has responded to the incident but was yet to identify the cause of his death, media reported.

Lijiao Bridge on Jiefang Road is given the name “Grand Hotel Bridge” by many migrant workers who take shelter under there, unwilling or unable to afford proper housing.

The middleaged worker’s death was first disclosed on the internet by a Weibo user who claimed to have seen the homeless man dead while picking up a friend.

According to witness, the man had been squatting on the stairs at a nearby restaurant for three days before his death, refusing to accept offers of help or money from a female sanitation worker.

The deaths quickly gained attention on the internet. Many Chinese internet users responded with scornful comments about inadequate social assistance and lack of a welfare system in China. “No matter who he is, a man should not be frozen to death on the street!” said one Sina Weibo user.

Another opined, “The most important thing in the world is to make sure our citizens have access to necessities. With China’s power today, it should not be a hard thing to achieve. The priority of government officials should be to save people from cold and hunger. Incidents like this is a shame to the people of China.”

Meanwhile, with questions about the real reason of Liu’s deaths unanswered, Nandu Web posted an investigative report on December 10th and wrote:

“If he [Liu Hongwei] was sick, did anyone call 120 [emergency hotline]? How did they come to this point without going to the hospital for any treatment? If they were running out of means, did they ever try to seek help from rescue shelters? If they did, why didn’t the shelters adapt them? Who is responsible for Liu’s death?”

The report found that Liu had called the mainland emergency hotline 120 multiple times. Some staff from the rescue shelter went to see him twice, but they didn’t take him away for further treatment. The rescue shelter maintained that it is their practice not to force unwilling patients to hospital.

The recent deaths in Zhengzhou highlight the effects of China’s widening poverty gap, as the livelihoods of migrant workers moving to cities for work continue to be squeezed by soaring inflation rates and high living costs.