Money loot sparks moral debate

CNC report from Beijing
Added On February 5, 2013

Well despite free train tickets for some, others were less lucky in the leadup to Spring Festival...

Imagine a year's hard-earned savings blown away by wind. That's what happened to one migrant worker in Shanghai, desperate to get home.

While many are offering help to compensate his loss, many more are criticizing those who took home, what didn't belong to them...

31-year-old Qin has mixed feeling towards the upcoming Spring Festival...

After he lost a year's savings earned by him and his dad, who works as a rubbish collector, just days before the biggest holiday of the year.

The money, some 2800 U.S dollars in total, was going to be put into their bank account...

Before Qin fell off his bike... And the paper notes were blow away.

But what happened next was something he ever expected.

People began to pick up the money, then left without giving it back.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) YU GUCHENG, Witness:
"We stopped at the roadside to stop the looting. Some passengers returned the money. But more just left. Some were so eager to grab more that they even didn't care about their safety."

Finally Qin only recovered about 480 dollars, less than one sixth of the total.

Qin said he planned to go back to his hometown with his 83-year-old father after saving the money.

Now he has sent his father back first, with an empty bank card.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) MR. QIN, Migrant worker in Shanghai:
"I was totally lost. I didn't know what to do. I didn't even know how to explain what happened to my family."

After a wad of unmarked cash was taken away, a picture of Qin's hopeless face spread fast online.

Qin's story soon aroused sympathy from the public, as well as criticism for those who took his money and ran.

Triggering a heated morality debate... In a country that has industrialized faster, than any other.

One Weibo user posted: "Please give the money back to the poor man and let the family enjoy a happy Spring Festival. The money is from his father, who works as a garbage collector."

Police also published notices, hoping those who took the money would send it back.

Some have returned it to police - with almost half, now recovered.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) MS. HAN, City cleaner, Witness:
"A colleague of mine took 200 yuan. He has already given it back."

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) ZHANG YI, Police:
"More people will come later. We've recovered another 2900 yuan, or 245 dollars so far."

While the incident is causing many to question the morality of modern Chinese society, some are proving kindness still exists.

Yu Gucheng, who tried to stop the looting at scene, gave Qin 144 dollars from his own pocket.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) YU GUCHENG, Witness:
"I just want to help him. To make him still feel the warmth of the city."

Fifteen internet users are also willing to donate some money to Qin and have met with police.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) MR. QIN, Migrant worker in Shanghai:
"I feel better now. Thanks for everybody who help me."

Police say they are in contact with owners of two cars that were spotted taking some money away...

In the hope that Qin's money can be recovered in time for a family reunion.

As it develops, the story seems to take a happy turn...

According to an unverified report since our interview, Qin has been compensated more than his lost from public members.

And Qin wants to donate the extra money to charity funds to help more people.