On Friday in Henan Province, a man walked into a primary school and stabbed 22 children. None were killed. The same day, in Newtown, Connecticut, a man armed with at least three semi-automatic weapons shot his way into an elementary school and killed 26 people, including 20 first graders. The two eerily similar acts of violence against children have inspired inevitable comparisons, especially between the gun-loving culture of the U.S. and China, where guns are prohibited for personal use. For the New Yorker, Evan Osnos writes about the reactions he has seen in China to the Newtown tragedy and to America’s gun policies:
After the Newtown attack, a Chinese commentator with a nationalist bent wrote, “When I see these democratic elites pretending to condemn the murderer, it seems absurd. You are the people who sustain the gun policy. You are also the people who condemn the shooter.” And another:
As the ‘free, democratic, human-rights-based’ land of heaven, the one that has lectured other countries everyday for a hundred years about ‘freedom, democracy, and human rights,’ even to the point of armed intervention, America should calm down and examine its own gun-control policy.
It takes a lot to make China’s government—beset, as it is, by corruption and opacity and the paralyzing effects of special interests—look good, by comparison, in the eyes of its people these days. But we’ve done it. When Chinese viewers looked at the two attacks side by side, more than a few of them concluded, as this one did that, “from the look of it, there’s no difference between a ‘developed’ country and a ‘developing’ country. And there’s no such thing as human rights. People are the most violent creatures on earth, and China, with its ban on guns, is doing pretty well!”
The Chinese government has taken...
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