By Tom Bannister
After it was quickly realised that the Sandy Hook school massacre had occurred on the same morning as a mass-knifing in a Henanese school, many people were quick to draw comparisons between the two tragedies. Initially, most commentators focused on gun access, criticising US policy and praising the strict gun prohibition laws of the Chinese. Evan Osnos writing in the New Yorker said: “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.”
However, now Chinese netizens have take up the baton and are criticising their own government’s perceived lack of response to the Henan attack. Much of this criticism focuses on transparency; the Henan local government blocked information and Chinese media hardly published any reports on it at all.
This lack of coverage contrasted greatly with a flood of reports on Sandy Hook, many of them showing the US government’s strong response including Obama’s visit and speeches.
One much forwarded post with the tag-line ‘你们不报道，我们自己来！’ (you dont report so we shall do it ourselves!) read:
When American school children met with tragedy, Obama tears and American flags at half-mast became the lead story of the CCTV ‘news network.’. When Chinese children met with tragedy, the cadres of the local education ministry were in their warm offices playing games, and all the large media networks were unashamedly silent – only on Weibo could we find some scraps of information.
After the shooting attack on the elementary school in the U.S, the local authorities responded immediately. The entire country mourned together. The incident brought people to tears – and then the light from innumerable candles gave people warmth. Meanwhile in China’s Henan, more than 20 children are injured. The response from the local government is cold, and information has been cut off. This not only shocks people, it makes them incomparably angry. We often attack the U.S. for having ulterior motives in criticizing China. But doesn’t the behaviour of some local governments just encourage those ulterior motives?
Popular blogger @丰乳肥臀v posted:
22 students were knifed in Henan and 28 students were shot in America. This happened on the same morning. What was not the same was the response. When Obama was making a public address, the Henan local government was blocking information. When the American flag was flown at half-mast in memory of the fallen, our government officials were playing games in their offices. Our domestic media was reporting heavily on the American tragedy as it unfolded, but they collectively lost their voices for nearly 50 hours when it came to reporting on the Henan tragedy.
On the 14th December, children were tragically attacked in the two countries of China and America. Two days after the attack and we have had loads of reports about the American murderer, about the family members and the individual’s personal history. However we have heard little about the Chinese attacker. We are able to obtain news about a place far far away from us, but we are unable to obtain information about one that is very close. If you compare him to the Mayans, Su Dongpo [Song Dynasty writer] is also a prophet: You cannot know the shape of a mountain when you stand on it.