Bin Laden Dead: Chinese Netizens React (Updated)
China Real Time Report describes the wide range of mixed reactions from Chinese netizens to news of Osama bin Laden’s death:
“Deeply mourning Bin Laden,” wrote Weibo user Jiajia Nuwu in comments echoed widely across the site. “Yet another anti-American hero is lost.”
“Is this real? Excellent!” wrote another. “Now the only terrorist left is the United States!” …
Other Weibo commenters, however, appeared happy about Mr. bin Laden’s death, partly because the terrorist leader’s political agenda was said to pose a direct threat to security in China’s northwestern territory of Xinjiang …
In [an] oblique reference to Chinese politics, a number of Chinese Twitter users passed around a message reading: “Of the ten most evil people in the world, the U.S. has killed one. Now there are nine left.”
Nine is the number of members on the Chinese Communist Party’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee ….
In a more analytical vein, former journalist and prominent political blogger Wen Yunchao argued on his Twitter account that the death of Mr. bin Laden would have consequences for China’s foreign policy.
“In the past, the U.S. needed China to join the fight against terrorism and so made more than a few concessions,” Mr. Wen wrote. “Now that bin Laden is dead, there’s one less constraint. The Free World now has more power to encircle China on the issue of universal values.”
chinaSMACK has translated a selection of reactions to Bin Laden’s death from NetEase, which show a similar diversity of opinion:
Great America, you are the embodiment of freedom and justice.
Laden, rest in peace, you have fallen but there are still millions of you who will stand up! I pay my tribute to you ….
Forced demolition chengguan claim responsibility for this matter ….
Long live the United States.
网易广东省网友 [guanghaizhan]: (responding to above)
Impossible! I don’t believe it, please post a photo for us to inspect.
网易广西防城港市网友 [寡妇村牛村长]: (responding to above)
The American media once ago publishes false rumors! Definitely fake news! …
Sigh! Bin Laden has died once again!!
On the New Yorker’s blog, Evan Osnos writes about the initial reaction in China to bin Laden’s death:
As news spread Monday, there was some celebration on the Chinese Web, but also a note of chilliness toward the U.S. than I didn’t anticipate. Zhang Xin, the director of the China Central Television’s National Security and Military Channel posted of bin Laden: “As a billionaire, he didn’t want to live a comfortable life, but chose to challenge the superpower, chose to live the life of a caveman. What was he trying to do? Laden was the greatest national hero in Arab history. Using his own power to fight the most powerful country in the world, America….Whether Laden is dead for real or not, it’s not important anymore. He has already become a spirit, an anti-American system of thought.”
Conspiracy theories and anxiety about the U.S. have a long life in Chinese security circles, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. More striking is a dark parable that was circulating fast on Monday afternoon, the kind of viral shred of cynicism that could never have spread in 2001:
Al Qaeda once sent five terrorists to China: One was sent to blow up a bus, but he wasn’t able to squeeze onto it; one was sent to blow up a supermarket, but the bomb was stolen from his basket; one was sent to blow up a train, but tickets were sold-out; finally, one succeeded in bombing a coal mine, and hundreds of workers died. He returned to Al Qaeda’s headquarters to await the headlines about his success, but it was never reported by the Chinese press. Al Qaeda executed him for lying.
And the Global Post reports that there has not yet been an official Chinese response to the news and also finds that online reactions are mixed:
In comments that mirrored typical Chinese sentiment about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America, Chinese citizens on popular web platforms ranged from one extreme to the other.
“The great anti-America fighter Bin Laden was murdered by the US! How sad!” wrote one commenter on Sina’s popular Weibo micro-blogging site.
Others were more sympathetic to the American cause, with one saying, “Bin Laden was finally killed by American army. May all people who died in the 9/11 attack rest in peace.
But a commenter named Ti Ten seemed to best capture the attitude of the vast majority of Chinese, who don’t see America’s war on terror and hunt for bin Laden as having anything to do with them.
“This seems doesn’t have one mao [metaphorically a cent] of relation to us,” the poster wrote.
And Taiwan’s Next Media Animation got to work and has already produced an animated and imagined reenactment of how the raid on bin Laden’s compound went down:
Update: China Media Project gives a rundown of Chinese media coverage of bin Laden’s death while Sina compiles a visual of numerous Chinese newspaper front pages.
And the Wall Street Journal reports on the official government reaction to the news:
China hailed the killing as “a milestone and a positive development for the international anti-terrorism efforts.”
“Terrorism is the common enemy of the international community. China has also been a victim of terrorism,” foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.
Ms. Jiang was referring to China’s restless far western region of Xinjiang, where separatists have been waging a bloody insurgency against Chinese rule.
“China upholds that the international community should step up cooperation in working together to fight terrorism,” Ms. Jiang was quoted as saying.