Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre Let Chinese Public Appreciate China’s Gun Ban

A photo on a Chinese news website with the caption reading "Chinese student suspected for Virginia Tech massacre"

The massacre at the Virginia Tech that left 33 people died has been one of the most discussed incidents among Chinese Internet users in the past 24 hours. Besides hundreds of comments expressing shock over the rampage and condolence for the victims, a large portion of the discussion touched on the issue of gun control.

Many Chinese people related the incidents to the widespread private ownership of guns in the United States. “[The U.S.] Better have ban on guns,” one commentator said.

They then started to feel fortunate that carrying gun is strictly prohibited for the general public in China, and the majority of the comments supported the ban.

“It is good that China has strictly controlled guns since the beginning [of the People’s Republic],” one wrote. “If China lifted the ban on guns, perhaps the number of people killed in China in one day will be equal to that in the US in a year,” another commented.

“Everyone having gun is just like everyone having no gun,” still another comment reads. “I don’t want that one day I walk on the street and get shot just because I take a look at a person who broke up with somebody.”

Although the United States remains an ideal society with democracy, freedom and justice for many Chinese people, quite a few posters used the massacre to criticize human rights situation in the US, since individual’s personal freedom and safety were not well protected even on a university campus.

“It is not heaven there,” one comment reads.

Earlier, a huge sensation rose among Chinese media and the public regarding a false speculation that the shooter was a Chinese student.

The gossip started with an article written by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed,
who wrote that a 25-year-old “Chinese national who arrived in the United States last year on a student visa” was being investigated for the shooting.

Before long, some Chinese newspapers in the United States and state-run China News Services picked up the story. Soon after, China’s major news websites such as sina.com and sohu.com also posted the story that a Chinese student was regarded as the suspect.

Information online even provided two specific names of the alleged killer, one with the surname Jiang, from Shanghai, and the other with the surname Guo, from Liaoning. Apparently the news, especially those in Chinese, had made it seem real that the shooter was from China.

Upon receiving such information, people in China started to post comments expressing feelings like “very sad” and “ashamed.” Some even tried to assess the reasons for such “extreme behaviors” of Chinese students studying abroad in the US, such as pressure to excel and the disparity between their high self-esteem and humble reality.

Still, many people kept hoping that the shooter was not Chinese and waited for almost a whole day for the final confirmation.

“We were all misled [by the news],” a poster web-named Mu Mu wrote in an online forum soon after Virginia Tech police confirmed the identify of the shooter as 23-year-old South Korean Cho Seung-Hui, who was a permanent resident in the U.S.

“[I am] Greatly relieved after hearing the news [confirming the shooter],” another one wrote.

The news on the website of China News Services, sina.com and sohu.com is now corrected. Some online comments based on the wrong speculation were also deleted.

Online discussions

Speculations on shooter being Chinese

Update (8:45pm, April 17):
The links to the Sun-Times column and the Times story have been updated to the corrected version regarding the identity of the shooter. But a Google News search by "Chinese, Virginia Tech shooting/massacre" can still reveal the original headlines.

Update (10:27am, April 18)
Here is the blog of Mr. Wayne Chiang, a Chinese American and student of Virginia Tech who was wrongly thought as the shooter not long after it was said that the shooter was an Asian.


tian said...

oh, my friend also told me sth that the gossip started with an article written by Chicago Sun-Times...so it seems not totally sina's fault?:)
and i agree that "if everyone has gun, that's equal to everyone has no gun".
i like your article, i'll try to write sth in English next time.

hari deepak said...

a truly shocking incident ...but sadder thing is the premature statement by US authorities that :- "preliminary suspect who was a Chinese national, accompanied by details and a description"......very unfortunate as they cannot even identify a korean student who has a visa in US and is a permanent US citizen......

Now the whole south-korea US relationships may fall in jeopardy....another instance of how the acts of a selfish individual can affect the nation and race as a whole....how dare they accuse chinese just because the suspect was an asian.....do they think that all asians are chinese?.....It really makes me wonder how tolerant americans really are?.....

In the end it is an aberration in the history of asian americans....it is generally blacks or hispanics who are associated with crime....And in the end it is narrow minded/psychotic people like Cho Seung-Hui who create problems for races and nations......hope guns will be banned in future in US....

Anonymous said...

In the eyes of the American, guns do not kill people. It's people who kill people. Any suggestion that America should ban its people from owning guns is totally out of question. It's not even a subject for any meaningful debate. To own a gun is the constitutional right of the American people, period.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can just look at the shooter as a troubled individual, but not always associate him with race, culture or nationality. After all, every individual is different and every one has his/her own problems that are not necessarily derived from the race, culture or country the person happened to be born into.

hari deepak said...

exactly mr.anonynous but that is not the way most people in the world look at it...generalization is one of the greatest evils of the current world...but i guess you are right owning a gun is a constitutional right of the US people......i only think more restrictions should be imposed on the usage of guns.....Also i do hope american government does not blow this issue out of proportion....

Jennifer said...

Hi Josie - i've been reading your blog for a little bit now and, as an american interested in china, have always found it. i don't yet have the chinese language ability to read a lot of chinese blogs, but i very much appreciate your links so i can easily find blogs/news on the stories i'm interested in.

i totally agree with the anonymous poster who said "Maybe we can just look at the shooter as a troubled individual, but not always associate him with race, culture or nationality."

and i actually don't think the US gov or VA tech has been making a big deal about the race of the shooter. yes, a lot of pundits, especially online, have been talking about it, but it doesn't seem like it will hurt US-SKorea relations.

Josie Liu said...

Jennifer, i agree with you. so far i haven't seen american news coverage on the shooting making a lot of stories about the shooter's ethnic background. in other words, i think american media are very cautious in any racial-profiling, and i appreciate their good sense.

A Dog said...

People don't understand why the right to bear arms is in the Constitution. The idea is that governments should not have a monopoly on power. Governments should fear people; people shouldn't have to fear the government. Guns provide an insurance policy against tyranny. If you believe your government is completely trustworthy and will never do wrong, then maybe you can believe that guns should be banned, but frankly, of all the places in the world, people in China should understand that a government can't be trusted to always do good.

Anonymous said...

So Chairman Mao was right after all - Power comes out of the barrel of a gun! And in America, if the government is up to no good (like the war in Iraq) people should use their guns and shoot them down, instead of vote them out in an election?

The Internet Marketing Student said...

Such actions are the results of people who feel deprived and left out in society.

A year ago, I watch the movie, The Secret. In this movie, The Law Of Attraction is used as a metaphor to describe a philosopy that anyone can used to create abundance in their lives.

Could this philosphy have prevented what happened at VirginiaTech? Did The Secret or any material on the Law Of Attraction reached Cho?

Bob Proctor, on of the teacher in the Secret just release a report
AttractionAcceleration which makes the Law Of Attraction easy to understand and apply. This report is free.

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