Chinese media accused of ‘crying only for American kids’, ignoring domestic school rampage
Jazza John, Ministry of Tofu contributor, helped with the story.
On the same day, tragedies descended upon both a Chinese and an American elementary schools. Chinese news media, like their American counterparts, blanketed their front pages and prime-time news programs with coverage of the Connecticut shooting on December 16, while playing down or even clamming up in the face of the stabbings in China’s Henan province. Such drastically different attitudes that the Chinese press adopted toward the two school rampages have prompted Chinese netizens to express their utter disappointment with and madness at their country’s fourth estate. “Sadness: Chinese media only cry for American kids…”, they opined on the Internet.
Front pages of major Chinese metropolitan newspapers on December 16. “America is heart-broken”, “America is crying”…Many headlines read.
On the morning of December 14, Min Yingjun, 36, broke into a 84-year-old man’s home and slashed him with a knife found at in the old man’s kitchen before he burst into an elementary school nearby and used the same knife to stab 22 children. He was finally subdued by school teachers, villagers and policemen arriving on the scene. The old man and seven children were seriously injured and put under intensive care. Other children were hospitalized. Most children were left behind by parents who are migrant workers in other cities and cared for by grandparents. The scene was so bloody and so horrific that many grandparents fainted.
Father of one student holds the blood-stained sweatshirt of the little kid. (Photo from NetEase)
Wei Xiang, a boy injured during the mass slashing, lies in hospital bed. (Photo from NetEase)
Almost all Chinese mainstream media, including state broadcaster China Central Television, South Metropolis Daily, Beijing Youth and major metropolitan papers in the country, gave extensive coverage to the shooting in the United States while grudging words on the mass stabbing in Henan. Xinyang Daily, a newspaper circulating in the city of Xinyang, which administers Guangshan County, where the mass stabbing took place, even kept singing praises of the local government while remaining silent on the subject on the next day. “Guangshan Strives to Provide Education that Satisfies the People” was the headline of a story on its front page published on December 17.
Xinyang Daily’s propaganda piece trumpeting the satisfactory education system in Guangshan County runs on the front page two days after the mass stabbing.
China Central Television even made the U.S. shooting the headline news of its flagship program Xinwen Lianbo, breaking for the first time its 35-year tradition of always putting domestic news before international stories. This outraged Chinese netizens.
“鹏媒体” said, “A school shooting took place in the U.S., 28 died. The news instantly owned Chinese media and made headlines. On the same day, a school stabbing took place in Guangshan County, Henan province, 22 students were injured from the slashing, including 7 seriously injured and transferred to ICU. Major news outlets played deaf and dumb. It could only be learned from Weibo. Is it because lives of Chinese children are worth less?”
“作业本” said, “For the entire afternoon, CCTV had been providing extensive analytic reports of the shooting in the U.S.: sorting out shooting statistics, digging into the cause of shootings, offering advises on reforms, estimating firearm numbers, assessing potential risks, condemning U.S. President Obama…Now that guys are so professional, so responsible and so conscientious, why did you turn a blind eye to the fact a man in Henan slashed and injured 22 students?”
Zheng Yuanjie, one of the country’s best-known children’s book writer, also wrote on Weibo, “On December 14, both China and the U.S. had a tragic case involving children as victims. Two days later, we know so much about the American perpetrator. His family members and personal life experiences are laid bare. But we know so little about the Chinese perpetrator. We can learn about information far away on the horizon, and yet we have no access to information right under our noses. Compared with Mayans, Su Shi (ancient Chinese poet) should be the real soothsayer, ‘Failure to get a real picture of Mount Lu is due to the fact that I myself am in the mountain.’”
Dissident author and social commentator Murong Xucun wrote, “After both China and the U.S. saw a tragedy at school, the relevant department issued a gag order to ban reports of the domestic scandal. So all newspapers and television networks gave wide publicity to the U.S. tragedy with colors flying and drum beating. They did overview, wrap-up and analysis before they shouted in unison, ‘Look at the evil capitalism!’”
Weibo user “徐昕” ventured, “Over the U.S. school shooting, the nation flies the flag at half-staff, Obama shed tears, our president offered condolences to the U.S. president, CCTV changed its headline news…Can Obama reciprocate our favor? Can our chairman comfort our kids too? Can CCTV prime time news pay attention to our kids too?”
One blog post uploaded to the Sina News website, written by Rong Guoqiang, laments the fact that journalists in China are not able to do their jobs correctly due to the lack of information released regarding the incident in Henan:
Up until yesterday, community leaders have only given a small amount of information, “The county government leaders of Guangshan County rushed to the scene and to the County People’s Hospital where the investigation is being carried out and the wounded are being cared for…” No other factors are taken into account, just what is mentioned in this article. This restriction of information limits the influence that the reporters can have. The power of ones oration of course relies on the competence of the media, but this deciding factor does not rest solely on the media itself. These reports on the American and Chinese school tragedies show the typical case of competition between rights of discourse.
He also quotes a blog from a journalist from Xinhua News Agency, Li Peng, who reported on his microblog about the indifference of local officials when journalists approached them for additional information on the incident:
Reporters arrived to the village to do interviews but were told that the village cadres had personal appointments and were not available and those in the Department of Education were busy playing games in the office. Reporters had also intended to ask whether the man suspected of carrying out the attack on the school had been confirmed as having a mental illness, but the county party leaders said they didn’t understand the question.
Netizens, despite being aware of censorship that has obstructed press freedom, think that not being able to report Henan stabbing does not necessarily give the media the reason to hype the U.S. shooting, much less making such a notable exception for it, as CCTV did.
Weibo user “司马雷兴” was disgusted, “CCTV is so shameless! 22 Chinese kids injured by slashing did not make it to the top spot. Five kids in Bijie killed in cold weather did not make it to the top spot. 26 kids killed in the U.S. did. CCTV, are you fathered by the United States?”
“唐辰” asked, “Which country do we belong to? All major metropolitan papers in mainland China run U.S. school shooting in their front pages. Don’t cry, America. Hang in there, America. Today, we are all Americans.”
It is never news that Chinese media play by a double standard in the event of a calamity. In October when Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the United States, China Central Television got hyperactive and invested great effort and manpower on its coverage, generating much criticism of its schadenfreude from netizens, who sarcastically nicknamed CCTV “a news organization of America with conscience.” Netizens were also furious that CCTV squandered resources put together by taxpayers and donned a mask of sympathy while allowing social ibijienjustices inside China to simmer and finally erupt into big incidents.
But this time, when calamities arrived in both China and the United States, it chills people that as the national broadcaster, it put the domestic issue on the back burner and prioritized a foreign issue.
A cartoon satirizing China Central Television for its silence on domestic school rampage
Of course, it does not mean that Chinese netizens do not feel sympathetic toward the horrendous school shooting in which 26 lives were snuffed out. Chinese Weibo users have been joining global netizens in expressing their shock and condemnation of the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, along with the school stabbings in Henan province. Reactions from Weibo users included:
shanghaiman66: Twenty elementary school students murdered at Sandy Hook school in the USA and 22 pupils are stabbed in a primary school in Henan province. This should sound an alarm to all levels of government that they need to develop a comprehensive, rigorous and specific measures and regulations to protect the life and safety of primary and secondary school students. Officials who have not taken on this responsibility should be punished. The protection of the safety of students is the sacred duty of government officials.
王志海想成为海子：Stabbings in a primary school in Henan and shootings at a elementary school in Connecticut, what has this world come to?! If people feel free to take the lives of others then what sense is there living in this world? Mourning the loss of those cute little angels.
Correction: A previous version of the story mistakenly called both incidents “mass killings”. It was a typo, as no one died in the school rampage in China.