Chinese woman who gave life to protect Japanese in knife attack awarded city model of bravery
Published: Jul 02, 2024 04:12 PM
Photo: Local authorities in Suzhou

Photo: Local authorities in Suzhou

Hu Youping, a resident of the Chinese city of Suzhou who lost her life after attempting to stop a knife attack that injured two Japanese nationals, was awarded the title of "Suzhou City Model of Bravery" on Tuesday. Suzhou will establish the "Youping Bravery Fund" to better commemorate and honor heroes and to draw strength from their virtuous and noble actions.

Hu, 54, tried to stop an assailant attacking a bus used by a Japanese school at a bus stop in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province on June 24. She was stabbed multiple times by the attacker and tragically passed away despite rescue efforts. Her bravery and heroic actions have been widely praised by both Chinese and Japanese people. 

A memorial service for Hu was held in Suzhou New District on Tuesday morning. With deep sorrow, Hu's family and friends, representatives of the public, city and district leaders and relevant department heads, members of the medical treatment team, representatives of the city's Bravery Fund, and representatives of foreign friends in Suzhou gathered to pay tribute to her moving and heroic deeds.

Suzhou's Party chief Liu Xiaotao presented the "Suzhou City Model of Bravery" certificate to Hu's family representative. At the same time, Suzhou New District honored three residents who, disregarding their own safety, helped apprehend the suspect in the incident, with the title of "Courageous Person."

At the memorial service, Hu's colleagues and friends emotionally reminisced about her plain yet remarkable moments, recounting how she led an extraordinary life even at an ordinary position. 

Facing life and death, she prevented wrongdoing, protected the weak and endangered, and performed heroic acts, seeking to defend the lives of her compatriots and foreign friends, thus setting a benchmark for social righteousness. 

Everyone present was deeply moved by her kindness and profoundly touched by her bravery, each laying down flowers next to her portrait and tearfully bidding farewell to the hero.

To promote the spirit of bravery, Suzhou will establish the "Youping Bravery Fund" to better commemorate and honor heroes, draw strength from their positive actions, and continuously build an open, inclusive and supportive city.

Hu passed away on June 26 after suffering multiple stabs in the attack. According to Chinese media outlet Caixin, one of the blows by the knife stabbed her heart, causing hemorrhagic shock and excessive blood loss. 

On Friday, the Japanese Embassy in China flew its flag at half-mast to mourn her passing. On the same day, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said that Hu Youping exemplified the kindness and courage of the Chinese people.

In a feature story published by on Monday, Hu's neighbors described her as a very kind person, who liked to take walks. Hu often exercised in the morning and sometimes went out as early as 6:40 am. In the eyes of her colleagues, friends, relatives and neighbors, she was seen as a very caring, easygoing person who had a positive outlook on life.

Hu was from Jiaoling village in Huai'an city of East China's Jiangsu Province. A neighbor from her village told that the Hu she knew was still the same hardworking and enthusiastic girl who grew up in the village. 

At the age of 20, Hu was recruited by a Suzhou textile factory that came to Huai'an to hire workers, and she became a textile worker in the city. Along with Hu, two or three other girls from the village were also recruited. Shortly after, Hu settled down in Suzhou and had a son.

In the spring of 2016, at the age of 46, Hu lost her job and applied for a position as a nanny at a newly opened housekeeping company in the city. The agent responsible for representing Hu at the housekeeping company put two points to her list of strengths: "clean and neat appearance" and "affable."

In 2020, after working for 30 years, 50-year-old Hu decided to join the rising tide of "micro-businesses," hoping to try her hand at entrepreneurship and become a "boss."

During this phase of her business career, Hu developed an interest in making short videos. She had a good sense for the internet content and enjoyed creating skits, the kind where she would act out a scene along with a voice-over. However, her acting skills were quite average, and she would often end up laughing in the middle of a take. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her store struggled and she eventually had to close up shop. 

After a few months, she turned her micro-business into a side job and returned to the domestic helper industry, taking on various temporary part-time jobs. This continued until she was hired as a school bus guide at the Suzhou Japanese School - her last job, also a temporary outsourced position, with a monthly salary of over three thousand yuan.

Several neighbors mentioned that they had a good relationship with Hu. They knew that she "liked to chat with old neighbors about everyday life, her son, and her daughter-in-law" and "would go to her hometown with them during the holidays."

Hu was the bus guide on the school bus involved in the incident on June 24, and her duty was to escort the children to the bus stop and hand them over to their parents safely. 

Yan, a parent with a child at the school, told that the guides are fixed and they accompany the bus once in the morning and once in the evening. 

The bus guides must carefully check the list of students taking the bus, and if a child is absent, they need to mark it in the attendance book and explain the reason,

Footage from the scene of the incident shows Hu lying on her side after being stabbed. She was wearing an orange sleeveless top with two yellow stripes, similar to a traffic controller's uniform, which is the work attire of the Japanese school. Another woman in the same attire and a woman in white were by her side, while three men subdued the suspect.

On Friday, next to the bus stop where the incident took place, a blue plastic sheet was put on the sidewalk. This space constantly receives bouquets from various people: Suzhou locals, Japanese parents with their children, and numerous delivery riders bringing online orders, said. 

A parent of a student was quoted as saying in the media report that all Japanese mothers along that school bus route have bought flowers to place at the bus stop.

The parent said the Japanese community is getting Japanese families together to commemorate this hero. 

The Japanese school also organized a memorial ceremony on campus, and all families of the students attended. "Our principal, who is Japanese, cried uncontrollably, and all Japanese mothers present also cried," said the parent.

During the week following her sacrifice to save others, Hu became a victim of online harassment on social media, with extreme views labeling her as a "traitor" and praising the criminal act as patriotism. There were even calls to release the perpetrator. 

On Friday, the People's Daily published a commentary piece stating the exploitation of "xenophobia sentiments" or the spread of hateful speech by individuals would not be accepted. 

The following day, multiple internet platforms including NetEase, Sina Weibo, Tencent, and Douyin issued notices to combat "incitement of Chinese-Japanese confrontation and stirring up extreme nationalism," pledging to staunchly oppose extremist rhetoric.

Some netizens believe that Hu's sacrifice was a declaration of war against extreme nationalism, a contribution arguably as significant as saving a busload of children.

Global Times