April 14, 2006

BUILT ON A FLIMSY FOUNDATION:

3 Deaths in China Reveal Disparity in Price of Lives (JIM YARDLEY, 4/14/06, NY Times)

He Qingzhi's teenage daughter, Yuan, and her two friends lived on the same street near the Yangtze River, attended the same middle school and were crushed to death in the same traffic accident late last year. After that, the symmetry ended: under Chinese law, Yuan's life was worth less than the others'.

Mr. He, 38, who has lived in this town in central China for 15 years, was told that his neighbors were entitled to roughly three times more compensation from the accident because they were registered urban residents while he was only a migrant worker.

"I was shocked," said Mr. He, as he sorted through legal papers in his apartment recently while his wife sobbed in the next room. "The girls are about the same age. They all went to the same school. Why is our life so cheap?"

Outraged, Mr. He and his lawyer are considering a lawsuit, saying that the decision was discriminatory and that the family was entitled to full compensation under the Chinese Constitution. The problem with that argument is the Chinese Constitution. More Chinese citizens like Mr. He are claiming legal rights and often citing the Constitution, but it is actually a flimsy tool for protecting individual rights.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 14, 2006 6:11 AM
Comments

Just following the law like Google's Mr. Schmidt said.

Posted by: erp at April 14, 2006 11:51 AM
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