China Kindergarten Massacre Seen as Symptom of Progress

Experts interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald say that the recent attacks on school children in China are a result of the government’s focus in recent decades on economic development while not confronting the psychological impact of the accompanying social changes:

For decades China had been relatively free of the multiple killings by deranged assailants that make headlines in the West. Cautioning the causes of remained unclear, experts said even as economic reforms had lifted millions from poverty in China, insufficient attention had been paid to psychological health.

…Why children were targeted is unclear but Dr Ma said the attackers might seek to shock the public in copycat attacks as revenge against a more complicated society that they felt had wronged them.

”The perpetrators have contracted a ‘social psychological infectious disease’ that shows itself in a desire to take revenge on society,” said Zhou Xiaozheng of Renmin University, Beijing. ”They pick children as targets because they are the weakest and most vulnerable.”

Despite rising living standards and greater freedoms, Chinese today face new pressures unknown 30 years ago when the country began opening again to the world – particularly the struggle to keep up in a dog-eat-dog capitalist landscape.

Also, from the New York Times:

Police officers followed journalists around Linchang and kept them away from some areas. One news crew was ejected from a hotel, The A.P. reported. Local and central government officials have tried to clamp down on news coverage of the attacks, and the official Chinese-language news organizations on Thursday did not report new details of the Linchang killings. Most Chinese news Web sites had deeply buried the initial reports from Wednesday. The ostensible purpose is to avert further copycat crimes.

The series of attacks, which began on March 23 when a man stabbed and killed eight schoolchildren, have prompted calls by some writers and scholars for government officials to examine deeper problems within Chinese society, thus presenting a challenge to Chinese leaders.

At least one provincial newspaper has said that censoring news reports and adding security to schools failed to address the fundamental problems.

See also a post on this topic by Evan Osnos and two reports from Al Jazeera:


The New York Times’ Room for Debate blog has a discussion of the attacks on children here.

May 13, 2010 11:39 AM
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Categories: Economy, Society