Chinese Graduate Student Killed in Boston Attack

The third fatality from the bombing at the Boston Marathon has been identified as a Chinese graduate student at Boston University. According to reports, the victim was a graduate of Beijing Institute of Technology and a native of Shenyang, although the name has not been officially released following a request for anonymity from her family. A local Shenyang newspaper, however, says that the victim’s father confirmed her death when asked by a reporter. The victim was reportedly observing the marathon with two friends, one of whom, Zhou Danling, is in the hospital in stable condition. From USA Today:

Tuesday evening, the third victim was identified as a Boston University graduate student from China who was watching the race with two friends near the finish line.

The Chinese Consulate in New York confirmed the student’s death, the Associated Press reported Tuesday night.

The university did not release the student’s name or gender, pending family approval. But the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that relatives have requested that the student not be identified.

One friend was injured and listed in stable condition at a Boston hospital. The other friend was not hurt.

Bloomberg has more on the condition of Zhou Danling, who is reportedly recovering after two surgeries.

The Australian reports on the outpouring of grief on weibo over news of the Chinese victims:

“Terrorism has no national limits, the victims have no national limits. Together we condemn, together we mourn,” one user of Sina Weibo, a social networking site similar to Twitter, wrote.

“Poor child, go peacefully,” wrote another.

The consulate said relatives had requested that the deceased not be identified.

But Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television named the victim as well as a friend, Zhou Danling, whom it said was injured, adding that both were watching the race.

Even before news was released about the victims, the bombing was a major topic on weibo, following live on-the-scene updates from Chinese runners and observers, including real estate mogul Wang Shi. Many messages expressed compassion and concern for the victims and admiration for the American response to the violence. From Bloomberg:

The Chinese reaction had the potential to turn political. In the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, many Chinese publicly celebrated them as a justified humiliation of a bully, and the memory of that bitter outpouring remains a source of embarrassment. Fortunately, the Boston attack, far from inflaming the deep antipathy that many Chinese feel for U.S. foreign policy, appears to have inspired a widespread outpouring of empathy. “As Chinese, we are praying for you,” tweeted a Beijing-based graduate of Bentley College. “I almost went to the marathon,” a music student wrote. “Here’s wishing peace to all of the students in Boston.” Sister Ran Xiang, the handle for a popular microblogger in Guangzhou, wrote:

“Years ago, the whole of China applauded 911. Now in the wake of the Boston Bombings, we see a lot of sympathy and condemnation. A moment of silence for the dead and wounded and a prayer for the continued recovery of China’s humanity.”

Other messages on weibo drew comparisons to September 11 as well. From the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time:

To be sure, some responses were unsympathetic or even openly hostile, and a handful of microbloggers tempered their sympathy for innocent people injured in the Boston blast by saying greater numbers of innocent people have been killed as a result of the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the dominant refrain was mournful — – a notable departure from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington, which were openly celebrated by many in China.

“When 9-11 happened, I also cheered. Now I feel ashamed for the foolishness of my 20-year-old self,” wrote one microblogger.

Microbloggers also compared the reaction in the U.S. to what it might have been in China to a similar incident. From the Washington Post:

Chinese Web users seemed to draw two general conclusions: that China would be more effective at preventing a Boston-style attack, but that the U.S. is better equipped to respond to and cope such an event. They portrayed China as a formidable security state that privileges safety and secrecy, but the U.S. as a place where officials, police and citizens work together in harmony and cooperation.

It’s a somewhat rosy perspective of the U.S., one discussed jealously, even reverently. Many Chinese commenters seemed to treat this American trade-off – less security for greater transparency – as not only preferable but something from which their own country should learn.

“I’m not saying that the US is much better than China,” one Weibo user wrote in a comment aggregated by the site Offbeat China. “But in the face of a bombing attack, they have absolute information transparency and absolute freedom of speech. There is no ban on reporting or block of information. All media are allowed to report, which will never happen in our country.”

China Daily has also translated microblog reactions to the bombing.