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UPDATED: March 5, 2012 NO. 8 FEBRUARY 23, 2012
Celebrating Good Deeds
A TV show highlights the efforts of kind-hearted people in a society facing a moral crisis
By Li Li

REUNION: Wu Juping (left) visits the 2-year-old girl whom she rescued from a high-rise falling last July, on September 12, 2011(HUANG ZONGZHI)

Bai Fangli, an ordinary rickshaw peddler in north China's Tianjin, donated almost all his income to financing students and schools in the last 20 years of his life. Bai, who was nominated for the Touching China award twice but failed to receive an award, passed away in 2005 at the age of 92.

Wu Juping, a 31-year-old woman, was nicknamed "China's most beautiful mom" by netizens after saving the life of a 2-year-old who fell from the 10th floor of a building in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on July 2, 2011.

"Being selfless and helping others isn't as difficult as many think. I will keep trying to do good deeds," Wu said during a brief interview at the award ceremony.

Last October a hit-and-run accident in Foshan, Guangdong Province, raised a national wave of concern about falling moral standards in China. At least 18 bystanders nonchalantly walked past a toddler who had been knocked down by a van in a hardware market, only for the child to be hit by a second vehicle. The 2-year-old, who was eventually rescued by a refuse collector, died a week later. The apathy displayed by bystanders, passersby and people in the neighborhood, was captured by a surveillance camera and shocked the public.

While some blamed the lack of a good Samaritan law that would protect people who helped others from legal repercussions in China, others said that greed and growing materialism have caused a decline in humanity and compassion across society.

At this year's Touching China award ceremony, Bai Yansong, a famous news anchor who has been the show's master of ceremonies for 10 years, said, "In a society where people's moral bottom line is being challenged, people's aspirations for kindness and justice have become stronger and stronger."

A commentary on news portal People.com.cn said that people who are moved by Touching China award winners should follow their examples and take action.

Since the first Touching China award ceremony was broadcast live on January 24, 2003, the program has secured a large and loyal audience. Chen Riling, an entrepreneur from south China's Guangdong Province, was in the studio audience for this year's award ceremony. As a loyal spectator, he stops all production at his factories every year when the show is on so that his employees can watch its broadcast live.

Hu Zhong, a recipient of this year's awards, said that he asked all of his students to watch the show on TV. "I believe the seeds for goodness exist in the hearts of everyone. This show on CCTV is like water and sunshine and nourishes those seeds to grow," Hu said.

Zhu Bo, producer of the Touching China program, said that after a shortlist of candidates was announced last October, nearly 70 million people cast votes to select this year's award winners.

Despite the program's enormous popularity, producers who participated in its original design did not have high expectations.

"We did not expect it to be so popular. We did not know how the public would receive a program about helping people as the most popular programs on television are usually about money, power and fame," Zhu said.

Since its launch, many local TV channels had imitated Touching China to produce similar programs to honor local samaritans. "We don't want to monopolize this brand. Instead, we are happy to see it copied by more people," he said.

Touching China Award Winners 2011

Zhu Guangya, a renowned nuclear physicist and one of the key scientists engaged in the development of China's atom and hydrogen bombs in the 1960s who died on February 26, 2011, at the age of 87

Hu Zhong and Xie Xiaojun, a couple from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, who have volunteered to teach at orphanages on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau for 10 years

Liu Jinguo, Vice Minister of Public Security who has led dozens of firefighting and disaster rescue missions across China since 2005

Chang Ping-yi, a former Taiwan reporter who has spent 12 years volunteering as a teacher in a "leper village" in Sichuan Province

Yang Shanzhou, a retired government official who spent 22 years planting trees in his mountainous hometown in Shidian County, Yunnan Province

Alimjan Halik, a middle-aged man from northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region who has financed poor students for eight years with the modest income he earned from selling kebabs

Wu Juping, a woman from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, who caught a baby falling from a window on 10th floor with her bare hands in July 2011

Meng Peijie, a college student from Linfen, Shanxi Province, who has been taking care of her paralyzed foster mother since childhood

Wu Mengchao, a 90-year-old surgeon who is generally considered as the "Father of Chinese Hepatobiliary Surgery"

Liu Wei, a 23-year-old armless pianist from Beijing

Email us at: lili@bjreview.com

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