What if Chinese police beat a jaywalker?

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-22 0:43:01

New York police allegedly beat and injured an 84-year-old man for jaywalking on Sunday. The elderly man, who probably has a Chinese background, could not speak English. He engaged in a tussle with several police officers, and was subdued by violent means.

News reports in the US quoted what the police had stressed, saying that police were targeting the area for jaywalking as three people were struck and killed within nine days after disregarding traffic lights. A poll launched by Sina, one of China's most popular portals, showed that a majority 31 percent of over 30,000 voters agreed with the police action.

However, things might be the other way around if the same incident happened in China. The local police would be charged with abuse of power, and the head of the local police department would have to apologize and the errant police officers could be punished or even sacked.

This likely scenario does make sense. Different criteria are often used when many Chinese people comment on similar events that happened in China and the US.

We criticize the US for employing a "double standard" toward China. But now, Chinese people are using the same approach to look into the US.

Such different responses are not only caused by xenocentrism. That law enforcement lacks authority and non-compliance has become a prevalent attitude, which reinforces such a double-standard mindset, even to the level of self-denigration.

What's more, utilitarianism is also controlling many people's attitude toward the rule of law. When laws can protect their benefits, they applaud; when laws confront their interests, they boo.

The causes and effects of this jaywalking incident in the US still need more investigation. But it is believed that the spirit of the rule of law will result in a reasonable solution. However, once a similar case has attracted public attention in China, value-oriented and morality-triggered judgments will prevail over the rule of law in public debate.

This jaywalking case also shows that the US police keep a firm stance when they are allowed to use force during law enforcement. It also tells Chinese people that authority of laws can be demonstrated by how acceptable it is for the police to use force in front of the public.

Chinese rule of law still lacks authority, and it needs time to evolve. Now, public opinion should assume the responsibility for leading people's minds to follow the rule of law, instead of letting emotions and morality gain an upper hand.

In addition, Chinese public opinion needs to build self-dignity instead of sending ridicule and blame when its own compatriots get into trouble overseas.

Chinese people need support from their own country when they are in a disadvantaged position abroad.

Posted in: Editorial

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