Zhang Hua (张华, 1958-1982) was a third-year student at the Fourth People’s Liberation Army Medical College. He died when he rescued an old peasant who had fallen into a manure pit. Zhang was suffocated by the fumes. Subsequently, he became the object of an official emulation movement.
Once the movement was under way, an interesting development took place. A purported student at the Hangzhou Teachers’ College, Duo Yan, wrote an open letter in which he wondered whether Zhang’s sacrifice, though to be praised, was really worthwhile. Duo contended that Zhang, as a doctor, would have had the opportunity to make great contributions to society; far greater than the possible contributions the saved peasant, who was 69 years old, had made in his whole life. In the end, however, Duo was forced to recant. The whole flurry of media attention, on the other hand, led to various complaints about the over-emphasis on the activities of model heroes.
Chiang Chen-ch’ang, "The New Lei Fengs of the 1980s", Issues and Studies, May 1984, pp. 22-42
Beverley Hooper, Youth in China (Ringwood, etc.: Penguin Books Australia, Ltd., 1985)
Shao Wu et al. (eds), 共和国群英谱 [Gongheguo qunyingpu - Register of heroes of the Republic] (Beijing: Zhongguo shaonian ertong chubanshe, 2003) [in Chinese]