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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