‘We’re Always Among the First to Learn America’s Bad News’: Chinese Media

virginia

Shootings are rare in China, which largely outlaws private gun ownership. But knifings have occurred there with some frequency in recent years, including an assault at a school in central China in December 2012 that injured 22 children and one adult.

Bethany Allen Ebrahimian writes: On the morning of August 26, a reporter and a cameraman for a local Virginia television station were fatally shot during a live television interview. The alleged gunman, now dead, apparently shot himself before being apprehended by police.

“The tragedy occurred shortly after 6:45 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, or around 6:45 p.m., Beijing time. That’s significant, because despite the evening hour, media outlets across China were quick to provide front-page coverage of the breaking story.”

— Weibo user

The shooting quickly made national news in the United States, and outlets across the country have provided regular updates. The tragedy occurred shortly after 6:45 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, or around 6:45 p.m., Beijing time. That’s significant, because despite the evening hour, media outlets across China were quick to provide front-page coverage of the breaking story.

WDBJ-Shooting-Suspect-082615-442x400

State new agency Xinhua featured the shooting among its online list of top ten news items. By 10:30 p.m. in Beijing. Chinese news website NetEase had created a separate live-update webpage for the shootings. By 11 p.m. in Beijing, the state-run, often fervently nationalist Global Times had made a related photo its website’s cover photo, accompanied by a report with details of the shootings.

“The United States is a major preoccupation within China, often as a geopolitical rival held up as a kind of foil. It’s a focus for many everyday Chinese, as an object of scorn, an object of desire…or both.”

The United States is a major preoccupation within China, often as a geopolitical rival held up as a kind of foil. It’s a focus for many everyday Chinese, as an object of scorn, an object of desire — even Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his daughter to Harvard to study — or both. Within China, the high rate of gun violence in the United States is widely known and often seen as a flaw in the U.S. political system, a criticism repeated after the Virginia shooting.

[Read the full text here, at ForeignPolicy.com]

Though Chinese media reports on the Virgina incident were strictly factual, the accompanying social media commentary quickly became a domestic political battleground. Around 9:20 p.m., Beijing time, Chinese web giant Sina began live-blogging about the shooting on its official news account on microblogging platform Weibo, with one post garnering more than 570 comments. One user wrote in response, “No wonder I’ve seen so many public intellectuals” — an often disdainful term for Chinese liberals who promote Western values — “posting candle emoticons. When there’s a tragedy [in China], they criticize the government. When there’s a tragedy [in America], they post candles.” Another user mocked criticism directed at the Chinese political system when inefficiency, corruption, or lack of transparency has resulted in tragic accidents there….(read more)

ForeignPolicy.com



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