A 2-year-old girl who was hit by a van and then ignored as she lay writhing in the middle of a busy market street in China died on Friday of her injuries, as my colleague Michael Wines reports. The accident in the city of Foshan last Thursday had set off rounds of soul-searching by many in China who took to the country’s freewheeling Twitter-like microblogs to debate the episode and whether it exposed a lack compassion in their country. The family of the girl, Wang Yueyue, has received more than $40,000 in donations from concerned Chinese, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Within hours of the accident, Xinhua reported, there were nearly 2 million posts related to the toddler on Sina Weibo, a popular microblog platform similar to Twitter. By the middle of this week, there were nearly 10 million. A horrific video of the accident, contained in a news report, has been viewed 2.8 million times on Youku, the Chinese equivalent of YouTube. Among the most closely watched accounts on Sina Weibo related to the accident was one said to belong to the mother of the toddler, also named Wang Yueyue. The four short messages posted to the account have been commented on and passed along to other readers of the site tens of thousands of times. According to a translation by the English-language Shanghaiist blog, the most shared post read:
To all the kindhearted friends in the world, I am Yueyue’s dad. Thank you all for your attention, I bow to all of you. Yueyue’s medical condition was announced earlier today at a news conference at the military hospital. Yueyue is still in critical condition and is still under intensive care. Thank you all for your attention once again. I bow to you. Wang Chichang.
The only problem: the post was not from the toddler’s father, according to her mother. Ms. Wang told local media in China that they had been too distraught after the accident to think about posting updates to a microblog and were angered by the appearance of posts in their name, according to Shanghaiist. The blog reported that the girl’s mother, who apparently did not understand the microblogging service, had said yes when called and asked by an unidentified person whether it would be O.K. to start a Sina Weibo account for her. The account, called Yueyue’s Mother, was still live as of Friday morning. It includes a verification icon from Sina Weibo meant to signal to readers of the site that the company has confirmed that the person posting with a specific identity is who she says she is. In this case, she was not.