The case of the nanny arsonist


A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for June 29, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

On June 22, a mother and her three children in Hangzhou were killed in a fire set by the family’s nanny in their 18th-floor luxury apartment, according to the South China Morning Post. The mother first spotted the fire and then asked the nanny to go and seek help. The nanny escaped and survived, leaving the mother and her three children, two boys aged 6 and 11, to die in the fire. The 34-year-old nanny was arrested by the police on charges of arson and theft. She reportedly confessed to using a lighter to start a fire in the living room. Although her motive remains unknown, Sina’s English channel has reported that she was addicted to gambling and was involved with loan sharks.

The tragedy has been one of the most discussed topics on the Chinese internet this week. Online comments have shifted from condemning the nanny and China’s unregulated housekeeping market to complaints that almost every resident of urban China can relate to: the poor quality control of the building’s management company.

According to the China Daily, when the fire broke out, the fire hydrant had no water supply. The apartment’s smoke sensor was broken, and other residents in the building said that they didn’t hear a fire alarm. The compound’s property management company responded on June 29, saying that it is the family’s fault for not knowing how to use the fire hydrant properly, and it is several security guards, not the company, that altered the fire hydrant examination records after the fire to escape responsibilities. Unsurprisingly, internet users were not convinced at all. One commenter wrote (in Chinese), “Don’t try to shrug off responsibility! Do you have a conscience?”


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