Update, Friday, 10:29 a.m.
Doctors say Yueyue has now died. Read the full report here.
Update, Tuesday, 2:16 p.m.
Find out how you can help Yuuyue’s family here.
A Chinese toddler who was ignored by 18 passersby and left in the street after she was run over twice is now brain dead, doctors said Wednesday.
A state-run paper China Daily, however, is still confidently reporting that Yueyue is alive. Her “blood pressure and heart beat shows signs of stability,” their most recent story reads.
Is it possible that China’s censors are at work? It’s unclear, as state-run news agency Xinhua is reporting her death.
Either way, Yueyue’s story does not look good for the government.
The seven excruciatingly long minutes in which 18 people decide not to help a bleeding two-year-old girl lying in the road make China look like anything but the “harmonious society” President Hu Jintao has envisioned.
Watch the video below. (WARNING: Graphic images inside.)
Yueyue is also not seeing any kind of miraculous turnaround, like the one China was able to celebrate for Xiang Weiyi, a toddler who survived the fatal bullet train crash in July and just started to walk again. (Watch a video of Weiyi in the the train five minutes before the fatal crash here.)
Instead, Yueyue is now “in a deep coma and clinically brain dead,” according to doctors quoted by Xinhua. Yueyue’s parents are facing the decision about whether to turn off the life support machine that is keeping her alive.
There may be one similarity between the hit-and-run and the bullet train crash, however, and that is the media crackdown their cases may have inspired.
After reporters began aggressively covering the July train crash, which killed at least 40 people, government censors demanded the media stop writing about it. Most newspapers soon switched to upbeat reporting on other stories.
A commenter on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, wrote at the time: “Why have the people been robbed of the right to know? How long do they want to hide. ... We won't accept being treated like idiots.”
In Yueyue’s case, a media crackdown seems possible because of the legions of people calling for better legal protection for Good Samaritans. A prevalent fear in the country is that those who help the injured will be blamed for the injuries. Much of this has to do with a 2006 case in which a man who helped an elderly woman to the hospital was dragged to court by her family and made to pay a large share of her medical bills.
Conflicting reports about Yueyue support the idea that censorship of Yueyue’s story has already begun.
There are the conflicting reports on China Daily and Xinhua, two agencies controlled by the government, about whether or not Yueyue is alive.
There is also China Daily’s story Tuesday, in which it was reported the drivers who hit Yueyue had not seen her on the road, and were sorry for their mistake. The Shanghaiist blog, reported a totally different story the same day, writing that one of the drivers had admitted to trying to escape before anyone saw him and attempted to bribe Yueyue’s father to stay quiet.
China Daily also reported that the many passersby hadn’t noticed Yueyue lying on the street, while the video makes it very clear at least some of them did.
As after the July train crash, if government censors are making an attempt to silence information about Yueyue, they aren’t doing a very good job.
Lu Yuegang, a former investigative reporter for the Party-run China Youth Daily, told Reuters back in July: “These days, efforts to seal off the flow of opinion can't work like it did before.”