Bike theft is mirror to society

Updated: 2012-02-28 08:15

(China Daily)

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When his bicycle was stolen in Wuhan, Hubei province, Keiichiro Kawahara, a Japanese man who is attempting to cycle around the world, launched a request for help via the popular micro blog site Sina weibo. Netizens soon spread the word and he was overjoyed when the police reunited him with his high-end bicycle. While his story is heart-warming, we should ask ourselves why ordinary residents whose bicycles are stolen do not enjoy such attentive assistance, says an article in People's Daily. Excerpts:

Tens of thousands of Chinese bloggers, some of whom took it as their mission to defend the honor of the city of Wuhan, quickly responded to the young Japanese man's request for help.

No doubt several factors contributed to their ardor: the victim of the theft was a foreigner, he is trying to tour the world, and he is helping the poor with his medical skills as he travels. So on hearing of his loss a consensus was quickly reached that such a kind-hearted man shouldn't have a bad experience in a Chinese city.

However, while Kawahara has won our respect, we should also reflect on the omissions in public security, which permit so many bicycle thefts in urban areas.

We should also ask if the authorities take seriously their duty to help ordinary citizens recover their stolen property.

Most bicycle owners in China are medium and low-income residents in cities, whose voices are rarely heard. All too often they must shrug it off when their bicycles are stolen.

To thieves, stealing a bicycle is easy. Even if they are caught they only face a light penalty. As a result, police pay little attention to hunting down bicycle thieves, bicycle manufacturers have little interest in developing and improving anti-theft devices, and the traffic department fails to provide more anti-theft facilities.

If there is dignity for a city and a country, it surely rests on how it treats its vulnerable groups and common laborers, rather than how many skyscrapers it has and how amazing its economic miracle is and how wonderful the lives of the elite are.

(China Daily 02/28/2012 page9)