‘Would You Save Your Mother or Girlfriend?’ Asks China’s National Judicial Examination

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5:56 pm 30 Sep, 2015

Hundreds of thousands of trainee lawyers and judges in China were put in a tricky situation earlier this year when during the China’s National Judicial Examination they were asked “Will you save your mother or girlfriend in case of a deadly fire?” as part of their exam question.


The exam, which is designed to assess if the examinee is qualified to practice law in China or not, followed up that question with an even more bizarre one:

“If a person is capable of saving his mother but saves his girlfriend instead, is he committing a crime of non-action?”

After covering multiple choice options for sections on drug laws, roads, pollution, fraud, bribery, murder and other serious offences, the paper went on to give weird scenarios in the”crimes of omission” section.

In question 52 they posed a scenario where lifeguards fail to save a drowning child, then to a case where a husband decides not to rescue his wife during divorce proceedings, and finally to a situation where someone let his friends drink poisoned coffee.


The answers to all these question were later published by the Ministry of Justice  on September 24, and stated that the man would be committing a crime of non-action if he chose his girlfriend over his mother as according to the law in China, a son is obligated to save his mother, not his girlfriend.

While it has been some time since this examination took place, the questions and the answers that were published later sparked huge debate on social media, with many agreeing with the answer that it would be heartless to leave one’s mother in danger.

One netizen who embarked on this debate said:

“I would definitely save my mother first. Apart from legal reasons, my mother raised me. Plus my girlfriend is younger, which means she has a better chance of escaping the fire on her own.”

While many agreed with the above view, there were also others who felt that the law is unjust and said:

“People’s lives are equal, they should be treated equally by the law. I have no idea why giving up your mom is a crime, while giving up your girlfriend is not.”

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