In Zhengzhou (郑州) in Henan province in November, a migrant worker lay under a bridge for more than 20 days. He didn’t seem to be very ill, just cold, hungry and destitute. People came and went, even emergency medical services were there once – yet he still died, alone. Who is he and why did he die? This is what the Henan Business Daily (河南商报) asks today with a front page special section on the fate of this forlorn migrant worker and others like him in China.
Henan Business Daily interviewed a doctor at a local hospital who related that on the evening of 22 November he received a call and was sent out to a bridge in Zhengzhou. When he got there he found the man lying on a makeshift bed, still conscious. The doctor asked him whether he felt any pain, but the man answered that he hadn’t eaten for two days because he couldn’t find any work. When the doctor heard this, he tested the man’s blood sugar levels, measured his blood pressure and took his pulse, and tested his breathing frequency. All his signs were normal. The doctor could see the man’s psychological state was not looking good, however, after he hadn’t eaten for two days, so he gave him five yuan (which is how much he happened to have with him at the time). The man refused to go to hospital though, so the doctor left him there with a reminder to dial 120 if he ever feels any pain.
Nothing happened again until the 30th of November, when emergency services were called out to the bridge again (its uncertain by who exactly). When this team got there, the man, a migrant worker, was dead.
So who was this unknown migrant worker? According to the Zhengzhou health bureau that handled the first call received on 22 November, the man was called Liu Hongwei (刘红伟), and was born in 1974. Local police claimed to have established that the man was from Qi county (杞县) in Kaifeng (开封), Henan. Yet the journalist compared a picture of Liu Hongwei produced by the police with pictures taken of the body under the bridge, and found them to be not the same at all. So we still don’t know for sure who he was.
Inspired by what happened to this unknown migrant worker, Henan Business Daily published a longer piece today that takes the form of an interview with a migrant worker in Henan very much like the one who died under the bridge. Under the heading “This is what their lives are really like” (这，就是他的生活), the article features quotes from a migrant worker that clearly outline how difficult his life really is.
The newspaper asked this man, named Sun Guoqing (孙国庆), whether he or any of his companions ever became sick, for example, to which he replied:
For us to be sick is very normal, and if we get sick its even a bigger problem because we don’t dare go to the hospital. So we just take some medicine and eat something. If something happens to me I would just go home, where things are very different. At home there are people who can look after me and I can easily go to the hospital. But here no-one cares, I have to rely on myself.
Perhaps one migrant worker just to had enough, and gave up on a careless world. He was just one man – alone, hopeless, nameless.