Was Needle Panic in China a Fake Frenzy?

The Toronto Star looks at whether recent reports of organized syringe attacks in Xinjiang, which subsequently sparked protests, are truth or rumor: Demonstrations by frightened Chinese erupted in the Xinjiang capital last week amid claims that the region’s native Uighurs had launched a wave of politically motivated syringe attacks against Han Chinese. But days after reports of the attacks in state media, credible evidence seems in short supply. Some are questioning whether there were any organized attacks at all. [...] “Some of those who said they had been stabbed actually suffered from mosquito stings and other psychogenic reasons,” Xinhua said. Other agency reports noted that of the four people officially charged last week, most were drug addicts involved in acts of plain criminality. On her blog, Reuters reporter Lucy Hornby writes about the rumors floating around the streets of Urumqi: The syringe scare was started by a police department text message last Monday, warning residents against attackers with syringes. Based on the indictments so far, some drug addicts had robbed a cab driver by threatening him with a syringe; another tried to fend off police who were trying to rescue them. And then there was a teenager who stuck a needle in a fruit seller’s buttock. The government warned of a coordinated separatist attack. The effect of the text message, especially in buses crowded with Urumqi residents who are fearful and suspicious of each other, was panic. Over 500 people have gone to the police saying they were attacked; only 106 of them had a clear mark, bump or rash on their skin, official figures show. But it’s not all hysteria. Those 106 people were pricked with something. Xinhua, the state news agency, said some were mosquito bites. But others were indeed injured, albeit slightly. Doctors, who reassured reporters that ...
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6 Responses to Was Needle Panic in China a Fake Frenzy?

  1. Needling says:

    [...] “Needle Attacks” my initial response is “Here we go again.” Sophie Beach at China Digital Times has linked to two different stories that both call into question the veracity of the incidents [...]

  2. Leong says:

    I understand that there are always different voices over the same issue, but I consider this kind of “questioning” a piece of joke. It is like these “journalists” were saying right after 7.5 that the Chinese government was killing Uyghurs again, and like they were saying all those killer were actually angry protesters.

    For me, this questioning is way beyond the limitation of a legitimate questioning of the government information. Even when they have to recognizing there are hundreds of confirmed cases of pricking, instead of conducting in-depth investigation, some “journalists” still indulge themselves in their fantasy of finding a liar government.

    Of course there are many cases of needle pricking, pin pricking, but is this the point? Do they really have to have syringes to confirm the attack? Or for them, only syringes prick? Of course there are many different kinds of rumors, and that is because of the government news blackout. It’s not like people are deliberately disseminate rumors. People were scared when hundreds of them were attacked. Those “journalists” know there are needles and pins involved because police captured attackers when they were pricking people. The purpose of pricking is not to kill, but to spread terror and sense of fear.

    What makes that Reuters “journalist” more ridiculous is she even blames the government text message for giving “copycats” cues for action. Well, the text message was sent to fool local people into believing there were no attacks when many of them had already learned pricking. The message was sent two weeks after the attacks actually began. This “journalist” lacks the basic sense of logic.

    I understand those two paragraphs are taken out of a context, but I have a feeling after reading them that Urumqi residents are a bunch of scare-mongers who prefer to scare themselves to death, or a bunch of dupes who are used by their government into a separatists-hunting game.

  3. Leong says:

    BTW, I am a resident of Urumqi, Xinjiang.

  4. hotaruSTAR16 says:

    The whole Urumqi protests issue is another problem China needs to deal with. Asia Chronicle News has a number of commentaries and analyses on China’s internal and external situation. Worth a read I think. asiachroniclenews.com

  5. [...] new reports surface, a blogger at Chinese Digital Times cites this Toronto Star account questioning the veracity of the original reports: But days after reports of the attacks in state media, credible evidence [...]

  6. [...] September 11, 2009 · Leave a Comment Was the needle panic in China a fake frenzy? [...]