Chinese Youth React to Cleaver Attacks

Chinese Youth React to Cleaver Attacks

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Another cleaver attack occurred Sunday in a local market of Foshan, a city in China’s Guangdong Province, causing the death of a 30-year-old woman. Five other women were seriously injured. The attacker, a 20-year-old man, then committed suicide by jumping off a three-story building.

The attack is the latest in a series of murders of young people that have occurred in different provinces of China since March.

In order to learn about the thoughts of the younger generation in China on these incidents, New America Media asked students and young people in different parts of the country to write in response to our questions. The students said social conflicts and injustice in Chinese society were the real reasons behind the attacks.


 Xiao An, Male, 23 years old, Guangdong

I study at the Shunde campus of Southern Medical University. Shunde is a district in Foshan city. Even though I live in Foshan, I didn’t hear about the news. I didn’t see any media coverage of it, or hear any of my classmates talking about it. I learned about the news after "climbing the wall" (a popular way to describe breaking China’s Internet censorship firewall) in some foreign news outlets. It's sad that we can only read about this news outside the wall.

After reading the news, I immediately made the connection to the recent slaughtering of children. My first feeling was lack of security. I also feel worried about people around me. I have an 11-year-old sister who is studying in elementary school. Although the school is less than 500 meters from our home, ever since children started getting killed, my parents have escorted my sister to school everyday. My father said many other parents were doing that too.

I can’t say exactly why these brutal tragedies are happening. Many experts have given their analysis, but I don’t believe all the incidents were committed by mentally disturbed patients. The first incident might have been, but the later ones were committed by copycats. Just like my father said, neither the rich nor the poor feel secure living in this society.

After the attacks happened, a lot of people accused or even cursed the criminals, but there was also a small group of people who showed sympathy. They believed they were forced into a dead end. What was more frightening was that these killers were ready to die. Most of them committed suicide afterward, and those who were arrested showed no fear.

How much hatred can they have to be so determined to die? They did not commit these crimes with the purpose of killing the children, but to fight for their own rights in an evilly twisted way. I believe these people were oppressed. They have lost confidence in others, in society and in the government.

Disadvantaged people are treated with extreme unfairness. Since their problems could not be solved, they took revenge on children who were weaker than them. They created this big news in order to get attention, hoping someone would show that they cared about their suffering. As a result, vulnerable children and women were sacrificed.

Things didn’t turn out the way they thought they would. But those notorious incidents have stirred up the whole society. Nobody knows what really happened because the government blocked the news and covered up the facts. Even when they took such extreme actions, hoping someone would recognize their pain and suffering after their death, in this political environment these attackers and children were sacrificed for nothing.

At last, I have never paid special attention to people with mental illness, but your question has reminded me to because I am a medical student.

Li Qiang, Male, 25 years old

I read the news online. Though I don’t have friends in that age group, I’ve heard security has increased. I think personal psychological problems and intensifying social conflicts are the two reasons behind those attacks. I don’t know too much about mental patients and, personally, I didn’t pay much attention. Actually, I don’t know if those attackers were mentally ill or not. Besides, our government often locks up dissidents in mental hospitals to maintain stability. Just like Premier Wen Jiabao said, we need to solve the deeper conflicts.


Li Chuyi, Female, early 20s, Beijing

I learned about the news online. I’m concerned about children’s security. I feel that online users in China follow what other people are doing too much. After the coverage of the first attack in a kindergarten was published, copycats immediately appeared. But no matter what, there is no justification for harming children.

I believe social competition, exploitation and acting out anger on others contributed to the attacks, but I also believe there isn’t enough attention on mental patients in China. Take the Ma Jiajue murder case, for example. Even the lawyers defended the murderer as mentally incompetent, but because the case got a lot of attention, the court didn't consider his mental condition. Society does not understand or pay enough attention to mental patients.


Li Fengjun, Female, early 20s, Guizhou

I have not read about the attacks in Foshan. At this point, I’m not worried about my own safety, because I feel I live in a pretty safe environment, with security officers patrolling the campus and the classrooms.

I believe the first several attacks came from anti-society sentiments and committed by those who wanted to take revenge on society, and the other attacks were suspected of being copycats.

I have never been in touch with a diagnosed mental patient but during my freshman year in college, one of my roomates was suspected to be mentally disturbed. She also had suicidal tendencies. Instead of providing assistance, our dorm manager just warned us to pay more attention to her. We went separate ways after moving to other dorms and we no longer studied in the same school district. In my opinion, society does not pay enough attention to mental patients, and the negative impact they can have is overlooked.