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Interpreting China's School Attacks

More attacks on schoolchildren in China. We ask what they may tell us about tensions behind China’s great economic leap forward.

Chinese authorities watch over children as they leave a primary school in Hefei in central China's Anhui province, May 14, 2010. A string of recent assaults killed seven preschoolers and two adults last week on the outskirts of Hanzhong city. (AP)

The attacks on schoolchildren in China began in March, when a doctor in Nanping burst into a primary school and slashed to death eight young students. 

In the months since, Chinese have looked on in horror as versions of that attack have been repeated – seemingly at random – all over China. An angry man, a knife, a cleaver, a kindergarten, and suddenly – bloody mayhem. 

At least seventeen have been killed, and scores wounded. China’s premier is addressing the problem in public.  

This Hour, On Point: social pressures, political pressures, and what’s going on with attacks on children in China.


Ed Wong, Beijing-based correspondent for The New York Times.

Guobin Yang, professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College, Columbia University. His books include “The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online” and “Re-Envisioning the Chinese Revolution.”

David Westendorff, founder of UrbanChina Partners, an urban governance and management consulting firm based in Shanghai, and a former research fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva. He joined On Point during its broadcasts from Shanghai in 2008.


It’s been two years since On Point’s visit to China, where the show broadcast for a week in the run-up to the Olympic Games. Below is a picture from that 2008 visit. That’s Tom waving beside guest David Westendorff, who returns again for today’s show:

Tom Ashbrook, left, and David Westendorff, 2008, in Shanghai, during On Point's week of broadcasting from China. (WBUR)

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  • Yar

    Thank you for covering this topic. It is beyond me how any group could build power by hurting children.
    It is scary what the humans are capable of under extreme conditions.
    From our privileged US citizen perspective it difficult to know the difficulties many citizens of other countries face on a day to day basis.
    My heart goes out to those directly touched by these strange violent events.

  • Ellen Dibble

    This story is astounding. Indeed it can make a loud point in a country with a one-child policy/law, but the making of points is usually a sane undertaking, not an insane one.
    I don’t know many Chinese, but where I do, there is explosive and violent anger, which seems “allowed” against family, wife first, child not so far off. Perhaps without a family, Chinese emotional overflow targets ANYBODY’s family, anybody’s child.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I still don’t hear anything about the role of women. Think bound feet. A patriarchal entitlement. Men who get into pickles of various kinds — forget the current economic inequities, social inequality — just say whether the woman was obliged to carry a baby, or the man had to give up a promotion to further her wishes, or problems caring for the grandparents. Many, many things — get directed to great heat in the man, who literally burns emotionally: “I have to kill or be killed; it will happen.”

  • Jean Smith

    The case I saw on CCTV seemed to stem from a financial disagreement about the school building, which left the landlord attacking the children. Does something prevent them from foreclosing on the property?

  • Steven Chu

    I wonder if this horror was not instigated by the callousness with which the Chinese government treated the deaths of so many children in the recent Earthquakes in China. To have so many children die, and then for the parents and society at large to be basically hushed, could very well lead to psychological crisis in the most vulnerable people. I am surprised that I have not heard anyone else suggest that the deaths of so many children in the earthquakes and how these deaths were treated afterwards could be connected to these attacks. Afterall, child abuse and murder is always more common in societies that have experienced periods of great violence, whether through natural disaster or man-made killings such as genocide, etc. I am reminded of a story I heard on National Public Radio about the frequency of child abuse in Cambodia, by the survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide. A connection to the recent horrifying deaths of so many children in the earthquakes because of shoddy and callous school building construction seems far more obvious to me than saying this horror is because of China’s rapid economic development.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Also religion. Chinese scoff at the weakness of mind of Americans who speak of “under God.” Mao pretty much obliterated any idea of Higher Power.
    On the other hand, once I explain the history of religion, it takes my Chinese friends about one meeting with a Chinese Christian church to decide to join.
    I heard about psychology and Chinese denial of mental illness.
    What about religion.
    Or a culture/society of healing. (I wish we had that more.)

  • Ellen Dibble

    Steven, I have read about callousness towards children in China where only one child is allowed, and girl fetuses are aborted or killed at birth. Parents sort of pick their child. Is that true?

  • Michael

    If anyone making a comparison of killing innocent’s children a political protest is kind of sick thinking. If this happen in the U.S. would Tom be saying the same thing?

  • Ellen Dibble

    If someone sees the one-child policy leading to a lot of infanticide (surrepticiously), one might think, well, I too have been decided-against; and I’ll do some “selecting” among children myself, to highlight that.

  • Rhonda Pickens

    I appreciate your making clear at the beginning of the hour that this was not an attempt to throw stones, but please reiterate that point. Our media rarely is fair in its treatment of China and rhetoric quickly becomes full of generalizing Orientalist stereotypes. Thank you for trying to deal with the subject subtly and without a sense of assumed western superiority. It is important to understand the huge change happening in China, but even so, please try to undermine stereotyping by restating the fact that China is a much less violent society than our own.

  • Jenna Green

    This is one of the most disturbing and fascinating social trends I’ve ever seen, and I am bewildered by the lack of perspective being offered on it. All of the explanations I’ve heard offered have gaping flaws. If the government has been censoring coverage of these events, how can they be copycat crimes? And if they’re not taking cues from each other, how did all these men decide on the same way to “make a point,” or at the very least find some outlet for their social frustration, and why did they all act in the last two months? Maybe perspective on events like this takes time to form and I’m just not familiar with it because I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime, but it seems to me that several identical, almost simultaneous events happening without the actors knowledge of each other points towards a more specific causal event than general “social pressures.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    I recall a kindergarten killer in Scotland, if I don’t misremember.
    I do want to hear if the one-child policy isn’t seen in China as a kind of legalized infanticide (de facto, not be design). And I am recalling King Herod killing all the male babies in order to get rid of the next “king of the Jews,” with horrifying paintings hanging all over Europe.

  • http://www.atheneumlearning.com Dr. Ed Neuhaus

    Listening to your show on China and had to contact you. I now go regularly go to Shanghai to teach evidence-based treatment methods for mental health problems. I’m a clinical psychologist, affiliated with the major psychiatric teaching hospitals (and med school) in the Boston area. I teach at the Shanghai Mental Health Center–China’s largest psychiatric hospital and teaching hospital–which is totally dedicated to training as many mental health professionals as possible nationwide. My 5-day workshops typically have 100+ attendees who are desperate to learn more effective treatment methods, and they come from about 14 provinces. It’s still unfortunately a small number in a big country. It is predicted that within 10 years mental health problems will be the number one public health problem, and frankly we’re seeing it already.
    Great show.
    Ed Neuhaus

  • Rhonda Pickens

    So glad that Chinese National Seth from Nashville called with his comment. It is important to keep reiterating his point about the size of the Chinese population. Again, I am not suggesting that this discussion not happen, but feel that our tendency to generalize about China requires that we regularly insert that reminder into the discussion.

  • Jason

    China will have a revolution in my lifetime due to the male / female imbalance and the lack of a middle class.

  • Dr. Michael F. Becker

    What’s going on? How dumb can one be to not know the obvious, but I’ll give you an anecdote from 40 years ago when I was in psychoanalysis with Dr. Robert Moss, BU’s foremost analyst on Bay State Road. A psychoanalyst is trained to never relate directly to the patient’s communication but instead at some future time in some obscure manner he might make a comment about the most dimly reflective item leaving it to the hapless patient to figure out, with cure or graduation coming occasionally maybe after 8 or 12 years of daily treatment. But Dr. Moss loved mankind as deeply as he understood the strength of our selfish drives and when I would bewail my futile efforts to end injustice and hatred such as seen in Southern racism, sexism everywhere, our wars in Asia, he would become overwhelmed to his lifetime of training and blurt out painfully “Cheapest thing in the world – human life, cheapest thing!” And I continue to think 36 years after his death “And getting cheaper all the time”.

    And the obvious is that Chinese tyranny is obvious,as the oppressive government becomes more skilled at controlling its people in growing inequality, few means of expression are left to the millions of people left behind as the differences in classes grows with China’s increasing wealth.

    While I have gained over these many years an increasing appreciation of the value of all human life, from a literary or symbolic viewpoint, the contagion of slaughter of China’s most valued citizens, its children, by the men most deprived of their rights not only to have any hope of such a fruitful life, but simply for their hopeless plight to be acknowledged by anyone in any meaningful way. I’m sure that those who followed that horrible butchery did so to the Chinese version of the “Rockey” theme music.

  • Jenna Green

    Steven’s comment is the closest anyone’s come to the kind of answer I’ve been looking for. Even if no one has come up with any satisfactory explanations (and I would even appreciate an acknowledgment that no one has come up with any satisfactory explanations), this is the type of information I want to have in order to make informed connections. Although there’s such a poverty of China coverage in the American media, and from what I’ve gleaned Chinese media isn’t always the most reliable source of information for what’s going on in China, so I’m sure this kind of information isn’t the easiest to come by. Which is presumably why there are so few good answers.

  • ageofaquarius

    Although China’s one child/2 children (depends on class), creates social problems, but personally I still support the idea of human population control, kudo for China’s courage on this great leap, it’s not only responsible for its own country, also responsible for world community, and I hope other countries will follow this birth control policies to control our population. But when you have radical “religious belief” involved, population control won’t happen.

    I see China has to major problems –

    1) Grow too fast
    2) Follow western economy model

  • Judy Burnett

    I am an interested listener and my observation lies in the rerouting of the water and the influx of citizens into the cities with no jobs. Could these people consider that education is the culprit transposing the inability to get justice say for loss of land etc and take it out on the children to prevent further beauracracy.

  • Jeff jw

    Looking at the all the postings, I’m dumfounded and disturbed by the ignorance of the audience. Most of those who posted comments seem to have not a slightest idea of the complex history and culture in China. Their comments reflect a singular one dimensional assessment of an entire nation of 1.2 billion. Most of their view of China are obviously based on simple sound bites they retained from the cold war era. I mean bounded feet? How a practice that have been extinct for 100 years is indicator of modern women’s rights is bit baffling. How is bounded feet different than the practice of breaking women’s ribs for fit them in corsets? I believe such practice was widely used in Europe and the U.S all the way into the 1800s. Do some research, look at the statistics, China has one of the highest ratio of women in power of any nations. Go to any Corp in China and you will see the women in top executive positions far out number the ratios in most western nations.
    I’ve lived in the China for number of years have seen the astonishing changes occurred in the past 10 years. Yes, there are social unrests, yes, there are corruptions, and yes there’s the question of democracy (or lack of). However, these are not alien uncertainties unseen in other nations. No country in the recent history has made as big stride as China has in the past 2 decades. The reform is not just social economical but political as well. We are so quick to measure everyone by our standards, and condemn anyone, regardless of their culture, history or beliefs who don’t conform to our ideals. China is nation of the most complex social, cultural and belief systems, the recent violence are so eye popping not because the crimes reflect revolutionary tide but because such violence have been so rare and new. The crimes do indeed reflect degree of social unrest and dissatisfaction towards the authority, but they are not proof that the entire nation is living in darkness and oppression. Don’t take my word for it, let your own eyes and consciousness be the guide. But before drawing any simple conclusions, travel there, let your own eyes and ears be the guide and tools.

  • Steven Chu

    Thank you, Jenna. I too have found the lack of real analysis of this terrible phenomenon disturbing. Unfortunately, like much of the previous coverage of these tragedies, a great deal of the discussion on the program today seemed to center around blaming the vicious murder of young children on sudden economic development and change. While the rapid economic and societal/cultural changes in China have certainly left many many people behind, this has been taking place now for several years (decades even), whereas these incidents of brutal violence against groups of children are recent. If we make the argument that economic and social change lead directly to these types of incidents, then we need to find actual direct evidence of this in history. Did mad men attack groups of children in such a fashion in the United States as a result of the Industrial Revolution, for example? These seem more like paltry arguments that both make some very broad generalizations about Chinese people and do not analyze what is going on in any sort of scientific fashion. Why not look for commonalities between recent events in China and in what may have triggered similar events in other countries?

    Not only were the grieving parents of the earthquake victims asked to not protest the corruption of local officials which led to schools being built with shoddy materials and construction techniques and their children dying in the earthquake but, just recently, these parents were told that they can “replace” the children they lost by having another child, that they had been granted exemption from the one-child policy. Thus, the Chinese government has basically just said that children are replaceable…a very callous response when, instead, the local officials should have been fired and the schools rebuilt so that this would not happen again. Given the chronological correlation and the impact that these events around the earthquake had on Chinese society, I cannot believe that the treatment of grieving parents and these recent heartless attacks on children in schools could be completely disconnected and I think it is bewildering that this connection has not been discussed.

  • Ellen Dibble

    It seems to me human communities are evolved to protect the young, and even one incident of killing multiple children at once raises global alarms. Remember the little children, the preschool classroom in the Edward R. Murrah building? Did Timothy McVeigh know there was a classroom right there? Remember the school siege by the terrorists north of Iran; I’m not recalling the name of the country. You probably do.
    I am surprised to see psychoanalysis invoked here, as if — I don’t know. I’m puzzling over it. Forty years ago no psychoanalyst was looking at population constrictions like that in China. (India began forcibly sterilizing men, leading to a certain assassination, maybe 30 years ago.) But the cheapness of life had been made more than evident in a series of World Wars.
    However, for that cheapness to surface as to the children, whom we are evolved to protect, in peacetime, is plain savage. And if China has close to ten times the population of the United States, I still take note. I can imagine that the media controls in China suppress and minimize incidents like this, so that would counterbalance the magnification caused by the shock factor.
    After a century of cheapness of life of mature adults warring among themselves, are we on the cusp of a century of cheapness of life of the youngest?
    How do I get to such an appalling thought? We cannot discount it, for we are looking at a crowded, warming planet that cannot afford actual wars anymore, that cannot afford the kinds of growth in prosperity that have “controlled” populations’ outlook anymore, hopes balancing the costs of staying together.
    The forecast looks oppressive, in terms of health, wealth, and growth. We need new terms of endearment for the youngest to thrive with. I consider China’s events a possible leading indicator or symptom.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Steven, I don’t buy the argument about the deaths of so many children in shoddy schools being the main reason, even though the government did not punish those responsible and if you say so, does not allow parents to have another child, among those who lost theirs in the earthquakes.
    The reason I doubt that connection is that I don’t believe that China — being as huge as it is — has that sense of cohesion. Is the news in China national? Or is it local? Earthquakes in the far south seem far away from the spate of killings in kindergartens. Far in time too, in part.
    Why now, a year later?
    I don’t hear that the locations relate to the locations of the shoddy schools.
    I don’t hear that disgruntled parents are the perpetrators.
    Sorry I am not better informed, but I probably reflect plenty of other Americans staring at these horrors.

  • CarolynL andry

    I haven’t heard the entire show, but I did not hear a discussion of the lack of family structure after the reduction of family size; the one reporter did explain the substitute structures in the work space. But there was always a strong family structure, more so than anywhere else I’ve read about. What happened when child reduction was so radically implemented.

  • Ellen Dibble

    In this country too, there has been a radical change in family size, and the role of the family as well. Nothing to compare with China, with its Confucian “theology” of honoring ancestors (at shrines?), and family size enforced by law. But before the Pill, and before women’s equality and expectations to share in the culture at large, beyond the home, within memory, families were much larger. And also, communities were more centralized. If you were divorced, and someone moved two towns over, you didn’t have an interstate to carry the children back and forth; and people’s jobs tended to be lifelong. If you began as a farm-kid, you expected to remain so. A family could be quite insular and quite expansive at the same time. There would be siblings “appearing” every year or so in most families.
    Now what do we have? Unless you have the kind of mentality that can see new “siblings” arriving with every newcomer to town, you don’t have that. “Fidelity” and “rootedness” are not the anchors they once were.
    Healing and helping one another are beginning to be the function (if not an actual reponsibility) of a broader culture, less of discrete familial units.
    So I think the pressures in China might be greatly intensified versions of pressures we can identify with. It is ironic if not paradoxical that as family size shrinks, as individual offspring therefore become more prized, they become targets. I mean, it’s not as if the male lion takes over the pride and tries to explunge the offspring of his predecessor. It is more like social suicide, like the kool-aid abomination in South America, where a cult leader ended the lives of all, young and old. Somebody Jones. NOT repeated.
    It would be so much easier to say see this is copycat attention-getting, splash-making, meaningless in most ways.

  • ageofaquarius

    Jeff jw, well put! You have made my point.

    One can tell those comments are made by learning from books, western medias and other sources that seem to only froze China in the cold war era. I do get frustrated with typical western view of China, but on second thought, they are not guilty of their formed thoughts with limited biased sources if one doesn’t read Chinese, this limits the ability of reading sources coming from other countries in Asia, and exposed to numerous Chinese people coming from different backgrounds. Vise versa this happens to other countries in the world how they view “American” thru the eye of Hollywood and CNN, etc….

    I think people actually bothered to read any articles about China is a first step of trying to understand a culture, and I have respect and kudo to them.

    The guilty parts are those who spread the idea of China with their limited understanding of a real China, or some Chinese authors or scholars who wrote books about the Communism era, it magnified the tragedy of a culture as a whole.

    Another thing always bothers me too is whenever a social problem appears in other culture, some religious people never fail to take opportunity to stress the problem coming from lack of religion. China has had 5000 years of history without a single “god” religion. Chinese are spiritual and philosophical, and can be superstitious, but never waged war because of disagreement of religion, unless certain religious groups started to get overly ambitious as a mean of over thrown to control.

  • Bush’s fault

    China has maniacs just as every nation does. Just look at islamic countries. Hacking people to death is routine for them and they accept the insanity of their actions as the will of mohammed the dog. Why are we surprised?

  • http://onpointradio.org Y. S. Lai

    I was listening to your program on the stabbing of children in elementary schools. My comment is:
    1. the most direct reason for this type of action is:
    a. Fustrations – due to unfair treatments by Government officials and Social authorities, such as, taking land or properties without fair compensation. The law is inadiquate to do justice and they have no where to turn except to do something drastic to get notice and then take their own life.

  • Bush’s fault

    Hey… ageofaguarius…how many Chinese were butchered by spiritual and philosophical Mao during the “social revolution”?

  • echappist

    Bush’s fault, i guess ageofaguarius never heard of the B-52 torture position. He probably knows nothing about the military skirmishes that went on in the city of Wenzhou during the Cultural Revolution, either. While we are at it, while China has never had a dominant religion as people believed in a mixture of Taoism and ancestor worship, it did always have a stringent ethical code of behavior derived mainly from Confucianism. While Confucianism is quite oppressive, it did ensure harmony, whatever that may be. Fast forward to 1966, Confucianism got tossed out by Mao, and while this is not a bad thing in itself, what filled up the moral vacuum was the blind adoration for Mao and Communism. Fast forward another twenty years, Mao had been dead for ten years, and greed (note i say greed, not capitalism) is king. There is no moral compass anymore in China, and some of the basest manifestations of human behavior begin to show (e.g. poisonous toothpaste and melamine in dog food).

    Ageofaquarius, it’s not a issue of religion, it’s an issue of the society’s lack of moral compass (along with negligence of mental health issue) that allow these type of attacks to happen.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’m looking to see if anyone from China has weighed in to challenge my suggestion that feminism is new and disruptive in China. I referred to domestic violence and the sense of patriarchal male entitlement. Exhibit 1, foot binding. I did some research and inquiry as to one Chinese family. Foot binding (100 years ago or whatever; indeed Victorian girdles did something similar here but not to the extent of crushing the foot before it was full grown, trying to create feet the size of an ancient imperial prostitute (not the empress, as I recall, but close to; I am not a historian). But what I gleaned was that women are a little ashamed to say their grandmothers did not bind their feet. Those whose women did so were exhibiting the fact that the women would never have to work (would never be able to, so it did not have to be proven). Thus, bound feet were the sign of aristocracy, or at least pretending to be so.
    It seems to me that under Mao the women were held to the same standards as the men were. It seems to me Soviet Communism might have been similarly liberating for women. (I float this idea, knowing how non-politically-correct it is.) So women began to be more successful than men in various ways, maybe first in science and academia — I’m surmising, in part. And the men through tradition were supposed to be totally in charge (not unlike Western culture), and found it harder to maintain the dominance they were trained to expect, though the women, true to Confucian tradition, remained for the most part respectful.
    Who knows something about divorce in China…
    There is quite a lot of Western literature about life during the Cultural Revolution and after, but I don’t know if what’s available here is available in China, or whether literacy in China is used for reading fiction at any level of society.
    Indeed, how little we know.
    Did/does Communism teach a childish approach to society, where if you are hurt, you try to get attention? You never get to think, communicate, collaborate? Is China like a billion child-like subjects? What does it mean to be a “citizen” there?

  • http://www.faluninfo.net Aubrey

    I didn’t have a chance to listen to the whole broadcast, but I was surprised to see that nobody mentioned the “elephant in the room”. I am an american Falun Dafa practitioner and I’m married to a Tibetan refugee. It seems very unsurprising that violence such as the school killings would happen in a country which has repressed all forms of religion, spirituality and basic human goodness for over 50 years. Before I practiced Falun Dafa, which emphasizes living a life of “Truthfullness, Compassion and Tolerance,” I also suffered from anger and depression. I found life fairly meaningless. Now I have such peace and joy in my life and I have mended broken relationships with my family. I now live my life to help others. In China people who practice Falun Dafa have been murdered and tortured for over 10 years. There is now substantial evidence that their organs are being harvested for profit. How can a government that brutally and systemically murders its kindest citizens be expected to remain staple and peaceful, even on a surface level. Falun Gong was the best thing that ever happened to China and was beginning to have the effect of stabilizing society, but the CCP has tried to crush it. China desperately needs Truth, Compassion and Tolerance. My Tibetan husband was also persecuted for his religious beliefs and bears the scars of the torture he endured in his three years in a Chinese prison.

  • ageofaquarius

    Ellen Dibble,

    It is true though Chinese Communism actually liberated woman in some sense. Men did feel challenged by the rise of feminism. Although I’m a Chinese from Taiwan, I wasn’t born in China, but my parents and grand parents are from China mainland. Let’s put it this way, there are society codes for women and men, wife and husband, mother and father. You know how important “saving face” for Chinese, right? So you have a husband loves and respects his wife very much in private, and almost listen to everything she says, but they change roles in front of others because of social codss. We have plenty of famous history, strong female actually dominated politics openly or behind the curtain. I have seen so many Chinese couples, husbands are afraid of their wives, Hahaha….. :D, a slogan from Chinese husbands, “my boas lady always comes first”. Never let Chinese women fool you, if they appear to be innocent and naive, believe me, they are not like that before their husbands.

    It is the social codes trapped the liberation of both genders, men suffered from that too, they couldn’t show their affection for their spouse openly. Some men were taught that way, they abuse their “given right”, some men actually didn’t want concubines, then they were forced into.

    Most cultures before industrial revolution, were Male dominance societies.

  • ageofaquarius

    ***China has maniacs just as every nation does. Just look at islamic countries. Hacking people to death is routine for them and they accept the insanity of their actions as the will of mohammed the dog. Why are we surprised?***

    Bush’s fault,

    You have a fundamental problem, you always blame outward, never look at your problem at HOME, name some home grown maniac here, would you?

  • ageofaquarius

    ***Hey… ageofaguarius…how many Chinese were butchered by spiritual and philosophical Mao during the “social revolution”?***

    No one here has ever denied that Mao is an idiot who regarded himself as some kind of wise man or genius, which is the most dangerous combination of a character. He has done so much damages to China. Believe me, one would choose Confucianism over Mao. Confucianism has pros and cons, generalizing and denouncing it only shows your shallow understanding.

    While “echappist” throws every Chinese traditional moral codes out the window while China has survived 5000 years of civilization, that simply shows how ignorant and biased he/she is. While you guys sure can name plenty of **ism, your minds are always made up by labeling, which disabling you to real understanding, and enabling you to become talking heads.

    Thank you for reading, have a nice day!

  • ageofaquarius

    “Ageofaquarius, it’s not a issue of religion, it’s an issue of the society’s lack of moral compass (along with negligence of mental health issue) that allow these type of attacks to happen.”

    You’re absolutely right, go tell those religious people when they blame “no religion” is the problem of China’s society. Talk to the “right people” can help to education others.

  • Yar

    I believe more is going on than the show’s explanation presents. In today’s news there is a report of 5 to 6 men attacking college students. That is not the result of a mentally ill person, it seems like some group ideology. I don’t know what it is, but copycat crimes don’t seem to fit current events.
    I wonder if there might be some bad drugs circulating in China that is causing people to act irrationally with violence.

    The suggestion to behave in this violent anti-social way is coming from somewhere. I need more information to make any sense of what motivates individuals to cause this kind of act.
    I hope you will take another look at the issue.
    Thanks for the show.

  • ageofaquarius


    Your speculations can’t be dismissed. I also think something else is going on. China is always under close watch by U.S., government and new medias. If there’s anything happened in China, U.S. medias love to stuff them all in their own box of agendas, even if those speculations don’t add up, and over simplified, and people like some of comments here just can’t pass any opportunity to rub it in and rant.

  • http://politywonk.livejournal.com Elizabeth

    As always, good show. My mother was born in China to a (US) Foreign Service family (think White Paper generation), so this is old home to me. As an Asian Studies scholar myself, I would appreciate some mention now and then about the Withdrawal of the Mandate of Heaven (WMH) in China’s view of its own history. As reprehensible as these school killings are, if they can be interpreted as a fairly benign version of the WMH, especially when compared with what happened in Nepal and is happening in Thailand.

    One question never changes: how does a government maintain itself while receiving criticism and effecting desired peace. My late grandfather always emphasized that the Chinese’s worst fear was the social chaos after WMH — including, yes, the fate of those millions Mao had killed in his transition. So if these killings result in better attention to some of the questions raised by this excellent conversation — and all of my fellow posters — then those children and their killers can be seen not as victims, but as martyrs to the nation’s evolution toward accountability.

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