A court in the eastern Shandong province ordered the friend of a murdered Chinese student in Japan to pay 696,000 yuan ($109,000) in compensation to the victim’s mother, five years after the high-profile case triggered a public debate on morality and law.
The court in the city of Qingdao on Monday said that Liu Xin was liable for the death of Jiang Ge, as she failed to inform the latter of potential danger from her ex-boyfriend. Liu’s former boyfriend, Chen Shifeng, had stabbed the then 24-year-old Jiang outside her apartment, where the friend had moved in after the couple’s break up and was indoors during the incident.
All three were Chinese nationals studying in Tokyo at the time of the incident in November 2016. Chen was charged with murder for fatally stabbing Jiang and given a 20-year prison sentence by a Japanese court the following year.
Over the years, the public debate on the murder case in China has focused heavily on Liu’s ethical failures, with some accusing her of being “selfish” for not trying to save her friend and harboring a “cold-blooded” attitude toward her murder. Others have argued she should not be shamed for not mustering the courage to prevent a brutal act.
Monday’s court verdict refuted Liu’s former claims that she was unable to unlock the door after hearing scuffles and unaware of the murder unfolding outside the apartment. Meanwhile, the court hailed Jiang’s willingness to help a friend in need, with social media users praising the verdict for recognizing the murdered student’s morals.
“The judicial adjudication should defend the moral bottom line, and promote virtue and righteous deeds,” wrote the ruling. “Jiang’s selflessness toward others reflects Chinese traditional virtues and is in line with socialism’s core values, public order, and good morals, which should be praised … while Liu’s behavior goes against humanity and should be condemned.”
Shi Jiayou, director of the National Research Center of Civil and Commercial Law at Renmin University of China, told Sixth Tone that the ruling clearly signals the law’s role in protecting good moral ethics and social virtue.
“Law and ethics are not distinctly separate,” said Shi. “One highlight is that the verdict said people who bring danger have an obligation to take necessary measures to prevent others from being harmed, expanding the traditional subject of such duty from enterprises and organizations to individuals.”
Following the verdict, Jiang’s mother told domestic media that while she appreciated the court ruling, she was dissatisfied with the compensation but would donate the entire amount to help girls who have discontinued their education. She filed a civil lawsuit against Liu in 2019, accusing her of contributing to Jiang’s death and claiming more than 2 million yuan in compensation.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: Jiang Ge’s mother leaves the courthouse in Qingdao, Shandong province, Jan. 10, 2022. People Visual)