Flag at half mast (Photo credit: Siadhal)
On the same day that a shooter killed twenty six innocent victims at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, a knifeman entered an elementary school in China, injuring twenty two children and one adult. Though both were tragic events, only one resulted in death. At first it is easy to compare the two: the United States allows guns which is why the American children were killed while in China, a country that prohibits guns, all the children survived. It’s easy to point a finger at the United States and blame it and its gun-loving cowboys for the reason why twenty little angels are in heaven. It is easy for the Chinese to suggest that the United States follows them and ban guns. And the Chinese government wants everyone to believe the easy view, to know that China is better than the United States; but in reality the United States dealt with the tragedy better than China.
After the Newtown massacre, several Chinese commenters pointed out how the U.S. is at fault for the lives of twenty children because it allows guns. To them, the U.S. is the loser because China does not have to worry about deaths due to guns since it prohibits them (though some Chinese bloggers argue that if they had guns, the government would think twice about taking land and approving projects with destructive effects on their environment.) While those few Chinese were bragging about how awesome their country is, thousands of other Chinese expressed sorrow by lighting candles for those that were killed. On Monday, the hashtag “Honoring Ordinary Heroes” stayed at the top on Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter). But did the Chinese know that seven children were in critical condition due to an attack on an elementary school in their own country? There is currently talk among media outlets that the Chinese government purposely hid knowledge of the knifeman in order to paint China as a safe country and the U.S. as a dangerous country. China uses censorship to control its people by letting them think that China is the best country in the world, though pretending that there are not seven children clinging to life is pathetic.
This is not the first time a man attacked an elementary school in China. In fact, this trend has been increasing in China in the past few years. In 2010, there were numerous attacks on elementary schools in China by men wielding hammers, knives, or meat cleavers, resulting in at least 20 children and adults dead and over 60 injured. Reasons for these increasing attacks include mental illness and a society frustrated with the Chinese government. The Chinese government promised extra security for the primary schools, but where was the security on Friday when a man was able to stab children at a school for over thirty minutes? It was only two months ago that a man with a machete killed three children and injured thirteen others at a private daycare. One month ago, a high school student was stabbed with a knife and died outside of his school. There is no reason why a man was able to attack innocent children for that long. At the Newtown shooting, the police responded in a matter of minutes, preventing more deaths since the shooter committed suicide once he realized that the police were on their way. China promised security after realizing that the number of attacks on elementary schools was becoming too common, yet it did not go through with that promise. If there was security at the doors of the school, maybe seven children would not be spending the night at a hospital tonight.
Who are these children in critical condition at the hospital right now? The Chinese government has not released the names of any of children involved in the attack or released any updates about the children in critical condition at the hospitals. After the Newtown attack, names and pictures of all the victims were released to the media. Family and friends told reporters their favorite memories of their loved ones, reminding the public how it is more important to remember the victims than the killer.
As Americans watched the television set as the Newtown events unfolded, they watched President Barack Obama speak to the media, shedding tears. Obama is a father to two girls and like many parents, he was thinking about how lucky he is to have his children alive. Obama ordered that flags be flown at half-mast as the country mourned. While the outgoing Chinese President Hu Jinato sent his condolences to Obama, he has not made any public statement of the knifeman attack in his own country. A press conference was cancelled and Chinese reporters admit that they are having trouble finding answers as to why their government ignores the stabbing incident. “Their Obama cried and lowered the flag to half-mast. What about us? The gap, this is the difference between first and second” said one Weibo user (Weibo is a blog site in China).
Though one villain managed to destroy lives in Newtown, survivors told stories of all the heroes that emerged, saving many more lives. Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach lunged at the attacker, trying to stop him while knowing that they would not survive the attack. There is First-grader teacher Victoria Soto who hid her class and when the attackedropened the door, she told him how the children were at the gym; he shot her dead. First-grader teacher Kaitlin Roig survived the attack by hiding all 15 students into a tiny bathroom – believing that they could all die, she told the students she loved them so that would be the last thing they heard. Numerous teachers hid children while other students helped their friends flee the school. The Newtown tragedy showed that even though there is evil in the world, there are more good people. But in China, what happened on Friday remains a mystery and at the moment only one woman emerges as a hero (The Chinese government has yet to say what happened, so this account is only going to what witnesses are saying). Witnesses say that around 7 am, a villager began punching students near the school entrance and Xiang Jiaying, a 85 year-old woman who lived next to the school tried to stop the man before he went inside the school. He chased her back to her house where he broke in, grabbed her kitchen knife, stabbed her, and went back to the school. Reports say that while majority of students managed to barricade the doors, many students were left to fend for themselves since teachers locked themselves in their classrooms. The knifeman was able to injure 22 children before being caught by police with help from other villagers and parents around 8 am. A crazy man was able to injure 22 students and one elderly woman for one hour before adults were able to arrest him. Though what actually happened is not known due to the Chinese government’s silence, there is no reason why children were left to fend for themselves for one hour.
Though China did not lose a life in the recent attack on a school, attacks on schools are becoming too common in China; but yet, the government chooses to hide the attacks and lie to its people on how they are increasing security. The Chinese government also chooses to ignore the high number of people suffering from mental illness in its country, nearly all the attacks are by men suffering from a mental illness. Instead, it arrested 93 people spreading rumors of the world ending on December 21st because they believe that was the reason why the knifeman attacked the school. In the United States, people are calling for stricter gun control laws while ignoring the fact that the shooter, like many others, suffered from a mental illness. Instead of comparing each other’s elementary school attacks and blaming guns, both countries should be focusing on better security at schools and dealing with the growing number of mental illness. “The legal right to carry guns is a symbol of American democracy. The tragedy today is but a price for freedom,” wrote one Sina Weibo blogger, translated by OffBeat China.
Outcry over Chinese state media coverage of tragic school attacks Ernest Kao South China Morning Post
Knifeman attacked children at Henan school Stephen Chen
In China, Newtown hits home Benjamin Carlson global post