Chi­nese press ties Vir­ginia Tech killings to U.S. pol­icy abroad

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Ed Lan­franco

BEI­JING — Chi­nese news re­ports link­ing the Vir­ginia Tech mas­sacre with Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy, sex­ism and the war in Iraq have put China’s For­eign Min­istry in an awk­ward po­si­tion — de­fend­ing press free­dom in a na­tion where the press is con­sid­ered an or­gan of the com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment.

“I do not see there is any mech­a­nism or sys­tem that the gov­ern­ment con­trols the press,” For­eign Min­istry spokesman Liu Jian­chao re­cently told re­porters ask­ing about lo­cal re­ports on the dead­li­est gun ram­page in U.S. his­tory.

One of the more un­usual news items in ques­tion came un­der the head­line: “From cam­pus killer to a look at in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.”

The April 23 col­umn in Shi­jie Xin­wen­bao, or World News Jour­nal, as­serted that the Vir­ginia Tech gun­man’s be­hav­ior was sim­i­lar to “cer­tain be­hav­ior pop­u­lar in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions im­pli­cat­ing oth­ers who are re­lated to the one who is guilty.”

China Youth Daily, pub­lished by the Com­mu­nist Youth League, called on the United States to re­flect on the pop­u­lar­ity of “vi­o­lent so­cial cul­ture” and “com­pe­ti­tion in Amer­ica as law of the jun­gle.”

The au­thor of that ar­ti­cle, also pub­lished April 23, ap­peared to con­nect the Vir­ginia Tech tragedy to the Iraq war by writ­ing: “In some in­ter­na­tional views, the tragedy is rel­e­vant to the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar idea that armed forces dom­i­nate U.S. for­eign pol­icy.”

On his English-lan­guage “Dia­log” show, which has a for­mat sim­i­lar to “Larry King Live” and is beamed by satel­lite all over the world, Yang Rui in­ter­viewed a Korean stu­dent at Cornell Univer­sity on April 24.

Mr. Yang made his point by quot­ing an opin­ion about the cam­pus shooter’s sis­ter, who works for the U.S. gov­ern­ment, and ask­ing if the sis­ter’s po­si­tion re­flected a “dual at­ti­tude in white so­ci­ety to­ward Asians by gen­der,” one where “women are seen as de­sir­able and com­pli­ant and ad­mirable, while the Asian male is to be sup­pressed at all costs.”

In fair­ness, much of the main­stream Chi­nese press re­frained from us­ing the April 16 tragedy as a ve­hi­cle to crit­i­cize the United States.

And China’s For­eign Min­istry was quick to of­fer con­do­lences af­ter a Korean stu­dent at Vir­ginia Tech, Se­ung-hui Cho, killed 32 per­sons be­fore killing him­self.

Al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the shoot­ing, For­eign Min­is­ter Li Zhaox­ing con­tacted Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice to of­fer con­so­la­tions to the United States and to fam­i­lies of the vic­tims.

A few days later, For­eign Min­istry spokesman Mr. Liu found him­self on the hot seat at the weekly brief­ing for for­eign cor­re­spon­dents.

Early re­ports in­di­cated the shooter was Chi­nese. Now that it was clear the gun­man was Korean, was China still of­fer­ing its con­do­lences?

The for­eign min­is­ter’s call to Miss Rice demon­strated “good wishes and af­fec­tion to­ward the United States gov­ern­ment and peo­ple,” Mr. Liu replied.

He added: “We con­demn this un­bri­dled atroc­ity against the in­no­cent.”

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Still Cel­e­brat­ing: An el­derly man dressed in a mil­i­tary uni­form of the World War II Red Army waves at Moscow’s Red Square May 9 dur­ing the an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the Soviet Union’s de­feat of Nazi Ger­many in 1945.

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