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Beyond Climate Change Concerns: Fukushima Fear and Eco-Anxiety in China

“Is our world turning into an apocalyptic survival game?” Fears over Fukushima waste water and other global threats are fueling public anxiety in China.

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While there isn’t a heated ongoing debate about global warming and climate change in China, it doesn’t imply that people are apathetic about the environment and well-being of future generations. Public expressions of ‘eco-anxiety’ and fears for the future are channeled towards different topics in China, where some believe that recent global challenges have transformed their lives into an ‘apocalyptic survival game.’

Over the past ten days, Japan’s decision to release treated nuclear water has ignited waves of anger and concern on Chinese social media platforms. Many netizens express worries about how the Fukushima wastewater might impact the marine ecosystem, while others are deeply concerned about the long-term repercussions of this pollution on their food safety and overall well-being in the coming decades.

The huge public concern over the Fukushima water seemingly poses a stark contrast with that over climate change. As Miranda Barnes recently noted in our Weibo Watch newsletter, the urgent implications of climate change and global warming caused by human activities are a huge topic of debate in Western countries, especially in relation to extreme weather. In China however, the phenomenon of “eco-anxiety” doesn’t resonate among the public in the same manner as it does in Western discourse, despite notable events like China recording historically high temperatures in July, the impact of Typhoon Doksuri, last summer’s wildfires and this summer’s devastating floods.

In a recent Reuters article about the discussions surrounding climate change in China, a Greenpeace senior adviser called it a “big missed opportunity” that Chinese state media and official channels did not connect the recent extreme weather in the country to its own carbon emissions and climate change at large.

China’s limited engagement with the climate change discourse is also noticeable in the realm of social media. Researchers Chuxuan Liu and Jeremy Lee Wallace published a study about “China’s missing climate change debate” (2023), concluding that social media site Weibo does not have very active discussions about the topic of climate change at all. They found that only 0.12% of the unique trending topics on Weibo from June 2017 to February 2021 were related to this theme.

Some news articles suggest that the lack of climate crisis discussions in China relates to the challenges faced by grass-roots environmental movements in contemporary China, alongside censorship.

But climate anxiety is not the only form of eco-anxiety, and it would be a misconception to assume that absence of panic over climate issues means that Chinese people are not concerned about the environment or the well-being of future generations at all. As explained in Eco-Anxiety and Pandemic Distress, various global threats, including climate change, ecological challenges, and pandemics, are interconnected in multiple ways. Pandemics can influence ecological problems, for example, and ecological dynamics and climate factors can also cause outbreaks and shape pandemics (Pihkala 2023, 1).

Climate change, global warming, and environmental activism may not hold as prominent a place in daily social life and online media in China as in the West, but some topics related to global ecological challenges — often communicated by state media and amplified by public responses — actually garner more engagement than in Western countries.

We delve into a few examples in this article. Given the scope of our discussion, we won’t go into the scientific details behind these phenomena; instead, we’ll center our attention on the public anxiety surrounding them.

 
Public Panic over Fukushima
 

Japan’s decision to start discharging treated nuclear water into the Pacific has already become one of the biggest topics on Chinese social media this year. Through Weibo posts, short videos, articles, and memes, people vociferously criticized Japan for what they saw as an irresponsible act of releasing “contaminated water” (污染水) – a concept popularized by official channels highlighting the toxicity of the disposed water, as opposed to the more neutral “treated water” (废水) term.

In the first days surrounding the Fukushima waste water release, a trending topic on Chinese social media highlighted how the move would harm to the oceanic ecosystem, with many people posting photos of dolphins, sealions, whales, fish, and other wildlife that could be affected by water pollution alongside the hashtag “History Won’t Forget.”

This post claimed that “the sea otters will also remember” what Japan has done.

In addition to a surge in anti-Japanese sentiments and concerns about the livelihoods of the Chinese fishing industry, another significant aspect of the viral online responses to the Fukushima wastewater issue has been the discussions regarding strategies for how to survive the perceived crisis.

While in the English-language media sphere, critics dismissed the panic as unwarranted, stressing that the disposal is well within safety limits or that environmental impact is negligible, the release of the treated water caused an outbreak of apocalyptic fears and many people immediately took action to protect themselves and their loved ones in various ways.

These fears are widespread, encompassing notions such as the contaminated water having the potential to induce mutations in marine life and elevate the risk of cancer when consumed by humans.

On the day preceding the wastewater release, Chinese state media outlet China Daily launched a hashtag about how “the nuclear-treated water will reach our seashore in 240 days” (#核废水排放后240天就会到达我国沿岸海域#). This statement was based on a Tsinghua University simulation study into how the tritium will spread.

A screenshot from the video posted by the Weibo account of China Daily about the simulation study, showing that the water will reach China’s seashore after 240 days.

The idea that the contaminated water discharged into the Pacific could reach China within less than eight months quickly gained traction on social media platforms, with many netizens reposting and highlighting the timeline, even planning their “last activities” within these days, such as consuming China-produced seafood or visiting the beach.

Rumors suggesting that the released water would reach the United States long after affecting China and nearby countries also gained widespread online popularity. Some of these analyses led to suspicions that the release of treated water must be a joint conspiracy by Japan and the United States, with the specific aim of targeting the lives of Chinese people.

Guidelines on how everyday practices could mitigate radioactive harm widely circulated. These included recommendations such as taking showers after it rains, identifying makeup products free from radioactive elements, or transitioning to a more vegetarian-based diet. Many of these tips, however, have no scientific basis. One restaurant in Shanghai even started offering anti-radioactive menus.

Meanwhile people began hoarding supplies in preparation for long-term survival. In the coastal city of Weihai, the closest Chinese city to South Korea, four tons of salt were sold in just one hour as citizens queued to stockpile salt on August 24. The salt frenzy stems from collective concerns about the impact of Fukushima water on food safety and that table salt – in the near future and in the decades to come – might also become compromised. There’s also a believe that salt might help in case of radiation pollution (iodized salt, however, is actually no antidote for radiation).

Although muck of the panic buying may have evoked memories of the past Covid years and preparations for the potential next lockdown, people actually also started hoarding salt back in 2011 shortly after the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi in March of that year.

 
Russia’s Anthrax Outbreak
 

Similar to the Fukushima wastewater responses, the same question of “how long does it take to arrive in China” also frequently pops up in the discussions surrounding the spread of anthrax in Russia. Anthrax is a serious infectious disease that occurs naturally in soil and can cause severe diseases to both humans and animals.

While Western media mostly focused on the Prigozhin jet crash incident, news of a mysterious anthrax outbreak in Russia (#俄罗斯一地暴发细菌性炭疽病#) has garnered attention on Chinese social media, causing significant concern. A current hypothesis directly connects climate change and the outbreak by suggesting that the thawing of frozen soil might have exposed people to decades-old infected reindeer carcasses.

A screenshot of the search result on Wechat channels on the topic of Russia’s anthrax, which shows that one related videos received 851,000 likes. Image shared by a netizen on Weibo.

In the comments under reports about the anthrax outbreak, many people are curious about how close the outbreak is to China’s borders. Others are researching anthrax transmission and fatality rates, wondering if it could turn into another global pandemic.

While most people are concerned about the outbreak’s potential impact, some are politicizing it without clear evidence, accusing the US of engaging in new “biological warfare” in Russia.

An image of the game “Resident Evil: Death Island” from a game review article.

The unease about Russia’s anthrax outbreak possibly being linked to “biological warfare” aligns with the public’s anxiety about mutations caused by Japan’s release of radioactive water. These worries amplify existing concerns about environmental changes, drawing parallels with the dystopian world of the Japanese survival horror game “Resident Evil,” where players face environments filled with zombies and other terrifying creatures. In discussions about the anthrax situation, a recurring question emerges: “Why does our reality increasingly resemble an apocalyptic survival game?”

 
Covid-19 Subvariants and Monkeypox
 

Apocalyptic game survival always becomes challenging when there are more than two crises unfolding at the same time. Beyond the concerns about contaminated water and anthrax outbreaks, another issue has captured the attention of the Chinese public recently – the spread of the latest Covid-19 subvariants, EG.5 and BA.2.86.

EG.5 is now the most prevalent in the US and has been detected in at least 52 countries. BA.2.86 is much less widespread, but scientists are alarmed by how many mutations it carries.

While more Chinese social media users are sharing their own experiences of getting Covid a third time, people begin to worry about the possible impact of a massive Covid-19 third wave, referred to as sān yáng (三阳). At the same time, some accounts are giving daily updates on new global cases of BA.2.86, and news reports related to new Covid sub-variants ignite strong reactions from netizens.

“Do not come over” meme used during the monkeypox outbreak.

We have seen similar responses related to news about monkeypox (mpox), with one domestic case of monkeypox occurring in July of this year becoming a top trending topic. Soon after, China saw the world’s fastest increase in cases of mpox, leading to significant concerns expressed by many, with people seeking information on preventive measures to avoid contracting the virus and expressing their hopes that the virus will remain far away from them.

 
Apocalyptic Games
 

“The main task is to stay alive”, concluded numerous netizens on Weibo after listing recent hashtags related to nuclear water, anthrax, and the next Covid-19 subvariant in their posts.

The combination of recent crises involving the environment and public health has made the prospect of impending catastrophe feel distressingly real to many. Half-jokingly, young people on Weibo express their concerns about having shorter lifespans. One netizen even humorously remarks, “Paying into your pension plan under these circumstances is almost like a form of romantic heroism,” suggesting that maintaining the belief that one will live long enough to enjoy their pension is overly optimistic and somewhat naive, especially in the face of present-day global challenges.

Beyond concerns about pension plans, a reluctance to have children has also emerged as a common sentiment, especially after Japan’s release of nuclear treated water. A viral screenshot of a street interview in Hong Kong captures the essence of this sentiment. In the interview, a young person nonchalantly responds that he isn’t worried about contamination of Japanese seafood because he doesn’t plan to have children. While not everyone shares this carefree attitude, many agree that having children in the current climate would be risky and senseless given the state of the world today.

A Weibo user sharing the screenshot of the interview on Weibo and comment that “[This is from] a street interview in Hong Kong. Some citizens said they did not worry about the contamination of Japanese seafood because they did not plan to have children.” The screenshot has now been censored.

Some netizens humorously assume the roles of players in an apocalyptic survival game, assigning different tasks to themselves.

A Weibo user sharing their “tasks” in the survival game.

Under the hashtag ‘What China Can Do When Japan Releases Contaminated Water in the Ocean’ (#日本核污水排海中国怎么办#), one netizen outlines tasks for ‘players’ based on priorities: “Primary task: stay alive; Side-quest: prevent a third-time Covid-19 infection; Special Task: prevent Russia’s anthrax; Hidden task: avoid being deceived by North Myanmar; Important task: avoid consuming seafood from the Pacific Ocean; Final task: eliminate zombies.” Similar tasks have been listed in other posts, reflecting the sentiment that a mass extinction event is looming, making survival increasingly challenging.

 
Eco-Anxiety and a Bleak Future
 

While the term ‘eco-anxiety’ is familiar in Western societies and used by environmental activists, it has yet to become popular among the general public in mainland China, and there is no widely recognized Chinese translation for it. However, this doesn’t mean that only vocal activists are concerned about ecological disasters, or that ordinary people in China are indifferent to global challenges because their concerns are not framed in terms of climate change or expressed through activism.

As numerous studies have shown, ecological anxiety is not exclusive to the West. It’s just that the Western language and framework may have captured this mentality first, making it easy to overlook individuals in other regions who share the same sentiments but express them differently.

Certainly, as elsewhere, mainstream national media in China also contribute significantly to events and incidents that fuel “eco-anxiety” among the public. Moreover, changing political narratives play a pivotal role in shaping these dynamics.

In contrast to the West, Chinese media doesn’t necessarily connect global warming to the nation’s carbon emissions. A recent article published by The Economist discussed official and public discussions being “inward-looking” and avoiding direct engagement with climate change debates.

However, as recently pointed out by Miranda Barnes in our newsletter, additional factors contribute to the distinct responses of Chinese netizens, particularly regarding personal consumption and how individual behavior is connected to climate change. With many people, especially elderly, feeling they bear no responsibility for major pollution or gas emissions, “extreme weather” (“极端天气”) topics on on Chinese social media mostly center around personal safety, self-rescue strategies, and considerations for insurance rather than the collective responsibility of humanity for causing climate change.

Complicating matters further, the presence of low social trust and public skepticism towards official media exacerbates eco-anxiety and other concerns about well-being and the future. People often believe that prioritizing individual self-help and self-protection is the safer option, leading to behaviors like panic buying, even when official sources advise against hoarding.

It is also noteworthy that many of the topics that people are concerned about when it comes to eco-anxiety and public health scares are linked, either directly or indirectly, to foreign countries. While several socio-historical factors contribute to these fears, there are critics who argue that Chinese leaders might exploit public sentiment against Japan or the US to deflect attention from their own internal economic, ecological, and political challenges. On the other hand, some Chinese commentators interpret the Western world’s apparent indifference to these issues as a prioritization of political strategies and capitalist profits over ecological concerns.

A cartoon posted on Weibo showing the US creating a samurai sword for Japan to fight with, mocking the US’s supportive attitude in Japan’s release of treated water.

Eco-anxiety is a collective response to various interconnected issues, including pandemics, disease spread, food security, environmental disasters, and the well-being of future generations. It’s like a complex puzzle where many pieces are intertwined, often involving intricate geopolitical and domestic political dimensions.

After the recent Fukushima fears, one person wrote on Weibo: “A while ago when listening to the BBC, I first heard the English term ‘eco-anxiety’ and I originally did not understand at all, why would people suffer from ‘eco-anxiety’? I hadn’t seen anyone around me with such emotions. But I get it now. I’m already deeply anxious myself.”

By Zilan Qian and Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

References:

Liu, Chuxuan and Jeremy Wallace. 2023. “What’s Not Trending on Weibo: China’s Missing Climate Change Discourse.” Environmental Research Communications 5 (1).

Pihkala, Panu. 2023. “Introduction” In: Eco-Anxiety and Pandemic Distress. Edited by: Douglas A. Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Oxford University Press.

 

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China Media

The Beishan Park Stabbings: How the Story Unfolded and Was Censored on Weibo

A timeline of the censorship & reporting of the Jilin Beishan Park stabbing incident on Chinese social media.

Manya Koetse

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The recent stabbing incident at Beishan Park in Jilin city, involving four American teachers, has made headlines worldwide. However, on the Chinese internet, the story was initially kept under wraps. This is a brief overview of how the incident was reported, censored, and discussed on Weibo.

On Monday, June 10, four Americans were stabbed while visiting Beishan park in Jilin.

Video footage of the victims lying on the ground in the park was viewed by millions of people outside the Chinese internet by Monday afternoon.

Despite the serious and unusual nature of such an attack on foreigners visiting China, it took about an entire day for the news to be reported by official Chinese channels.

 
How the Beishan Incident Unfolded Online
 

In the afternoon of June 10, news about four foreigners being stabbed in Jilin’s Beishan Park started circulating online.

Among the first online accounts to report this incident was the well-known Chinese-language X account ‘Li Laoshi’ (李老师不是你老师, @whyyoutouzhele), which has 1.5 million followers, along with the news account Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24), which has 1 million followers on X.

They both posted a video showing the incident’s aftermath, which soon went viral on X and beyond. It showed how three victims – one female and two male – were lying on the ground at the park, bleeding heavily while waiting for medical help. A police officer was already at the scene.

As soon as the video and tweets triggered discussions in the English-language social media sphere, it was clear that Chinese social media platforms were censoring and blocking mentions of the incident.

By Monday night, China local time, many Weibo commenters had started writing about what had happened in Beishan Park earlier that day, but their posts became unavailable.

Some bloggers wrote about receiving an automated message from Weibo management that their posts had been taken offline. Others started posting about “that thing in Jilin,” but even those messages disappeared. On other platforms, such as Douyin, the story was also being contained.

By 21:00-22:00 local time, a hashtag on Weibo, “Jilin Beishan Park Foreigners” (吉林北山外国人), briefly became the second most-searched topic before it was taken offline. Weibo stated: “According to relevant laws, regulations, and policies, the content of this topic is not shown.”

A hashtag about the Beishan stabbings soon became one of the hottest search queries before it disappeared.

While netizens came up with more creative words and other descriptions to talk about what had happened, the focus shifted from what had happened in Beishan Park to why the topic was being censored. “What’s this? Why can’t we talk about it?” one Weibo user wondered: “Not a single piece of news!”

Around 23:30 local time, another blogger posted: “It seems to be real that four foreigners were stabbed in Jilin’s Beishan Park this afternoon. We’ll have to see when it will formally be reported on Weibo.” Others questioned, “Why is the Jilin incident so tightly covered up on the internet?”

Around 04:00 local time on June 11, the first media outlet to really report on what had happened was Iowa Public Radio (IPR News). Before that time, one Iowan citizen had already commented on X that their sister-in-law was one of the victims involved.

One victim’s family had told IPR News that the individuals involved were four Cornell College instructors. All four survived and were recovering at a nearby hospital after being stabbed during a park visit in China.

The instructors were part of a partnership with Beihua University in Jilin. Cornell College and Beihua University have had an active partnership since 2018, with Beihua funding Cornell instructors to visit China, travel, and teach during a two-week period. Members from both institutions were visiting the public park in Jilin City when they were attacked. The visit was likely intended as a sightseeing and relaxation opportunity during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, when many people visit the park.

As reported by IPR News reporter Zachary Oren Smith (@ZacharyOS), U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks stated that her office was working with the U.S. Embassy to ensure the victims would receive care for their injuries and safely leave China.

 
Hu Xijin Post
 

Now that news of the attack on four Americans was all over X, soon picked up by dozens of international news outlets, the Chinese censorship of the story seemed unusual, considering the magnitude of the story.

Furthermore, there had still been no official statement from the Chinese side, nor any news reports on the suspect and whether or not he had been detained.

By the morning of June 11, an internal, unverified BOLO notice from the Jilin city Chuanying police office circulated online. It identified the suspect as 55-year-old Jilin resident Cui Dapeng (崔大鹏), who was still at large. The notice also clarified that there were not four but five victims in total.

At 11:33 local time, it seemed that the wall of censorship surrounding the incident was suddenly lifted when Chinese political and social commentator Hu Xijin (胡锡进), who has nearly 25 million followers on Weibo, posted about what had happened.

He based his post on “Western media reports,” and commented that this is a time when Chinese and American sides are actually promoting exchange. He saw the incident as a “random” one, which, regardless of the attacker’s motive, does not reflect broader sentiment within Chinese society. He concluded, “I also hope and believe that this incident will not negatively affect the exchanges between China and the US.”

Hu’s post spurred a flurry of discussions about the Beishan Park incident, turning it into a top-searched topic once again. His comments sparked controversy, with many disagreeing with his suggestion that the incident could potentially affect Sino-American exchanges. Many argued that there are numerous examples of Chinese people being attacked or even murdered in the US without anyone suggesting it would harm US-China relations.

Within approximately two hours of posting, Hu’s post was no longer visible and had disappeared from his timeline. This sudden deletion or blocking of his post again triggered confusion: Was Hu being censored? Why?

Later, screenshots of Hu Xijin’s post shared on social media were also censored.

 
A “Collision”
 

By the early Tuesday evening, June 11, Chinese official accounts and state media accounts finally issued a report on what had happened in what was now dubbed the “Beishan Park Stabbing Incident” (#吉林公安通报北山公园伤人案#).

Jilin authorities issued a report on what happened in Beishan Park.

A notice from local public security authorities stated that the first emergency call about a stabbing incident at the park came in at 11:49 in the morning on Monday, June 10, and police and medical assistance soon arrived at the scene.

The 55-year-old Chinese suspect, referred to as ‘Cui’ (崔某某), reportedly stabbed one of the Americans after they bumped into each other at the park (described as “a collision” 发生碰撞). The suspect then attacked the American, his three American companions, and a Chinese visitor who tried to intervene. Reports indicated that the victims were all transported to the hospital and were not in critical condition.

It was also stated that the suspect was arrested on the “same day,” without specifying the time and location of the arrest.

Later on Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed the incident during their regular press conference. Spokesperson Lin Jian (林剑) stated that local police had initially judged the case to be a random incident and that they were conducting further investigation (#外交部回应吉林北山公园伤人案#).

 
Boxer Rebellion References
 

With the discussions about the incident on Chinese social media less controlled, various views emerged, commenting on issues such as public safety in China, US-China relations, and anti-Western sentiments.

One notable trend during the early discussions of the incident is how many commenters referenced to the ‘Boxer Rebellion’ (1899–1901), an anti-foreign, anti-Christian uprising that took place during the final years of the Qing Dynasty and led to large-scale massacres of foreign residents. Many commenters believed the attacker had nationalist motives targeting foreigners.

Anti-american, nationalist sentiments also surfaced online. Some commenters laughed about the incident or praised the attacker for doing a “good job.”

However, the majority argued that this event should not be seen as indicative of a broader trend of foreign-targeted violence in China. They emphasized that Asians in America are far more frequently targeted in hate crimes than any Westerner in China, underscoring that this incident is just an isolated case.

This idea of the event being “random” (“偶然事件”) was reiterated in official reports, Hu Xijin’s column, and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But there are also those who think this might be a conspiracy, calling it bizarre for such a rare incident to occur just when Chinese tourism was finally starting to flourish in the post-Covid era: “Now that our tourism industry is booming, foreigners are getting stabbed? How could it be such a coincidence? Is it possible that this was arranged by spies from other countries?”

On Tuesday, social commentator Hu Xijin made a second attempt at posting about the Beishan Park incident. This time, his post was shorter and less outspoken:

“This appears to be a public security incident,” he wrote: “But this time, four foreign nationals were attacked. In every place around the world, there are criminal and public security incidents where foreigners become victims. China is one of the relatively safest countries in the world, but this incident still occurred in broad daylight in a tourist area. This reminds us, that we need to always keep enhancing the effectiveness of security measures to protect the safety of all Chinese and foreign nationals.”

Again, his post triggered some controversy as some bloggers discovered that Hu had previously argued against extra security checks at Chinese parks, which he deemed unnecessary. They felt he was now contradicting himself.

The differing views on Hu’s posts and the incident at large perhaps explain why the news was initially controlled and censored. Although censorship and control are inherent parts of the Chinese social media apparatus, the level of control over this story was quite unusual. Whether it was due to the suspect still being on the loose, public safety concerns, fears of rising nationalist sentiments, or the need to understand the full details before the story blew up, we will likely never know.

Nevertheless, this time, Hu’s post stayed up.

The Beishan Park incident is reportedly still under investigation.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

Knife-Wielding Woman Goes on Rampage at Guixi Primary School

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground.

Manya Koetse

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A woman in Guixi, a county-level city in Jiangxi’s Yingtan, has been taken into custody after stabbing people at a primary school on Monday, May 20, around noon. The incident resulted in at least two fatalities and left ten others injured.

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground, victims of the woman’s stabbing rampage at the Mingde Primary School in Guixi’s Wenfang.

The incident immediately attracted significant attention on Weibo, where netizens not only commented on the tragedy of innocent children being involved in such a horrific crime but also on the unusual fact that the suspect is female; as typically, perpetrators of such crimes are male.

Others also questioned why the school security guards were not present to prevent such an incident and how the woman managed to gain access to the school grounds in the first place.

The 45-year-old female suspect is a native of Guixi. It’s reported that she used a paring knife to carry out the stabbing attack on the school premises.

Shortly after the incident, local authorities called on blood donation centers in Guixi to extend their opening hours, and local residents started queuing up to donate blood to help out the victims who are still being treated for their injuries.

Another question that lingers is why the woman would commit such an atrocious crime. People suggest it is bàofù shèhuì (报复社会), a Chinese term that translates to “retaliate against society” or “taking revenge on society.”

Baofu shehui is often cited as a type of criminal motivation for knife-wielding incidents in China, particularly those occurring at schools, where individuals with personal grievances and/or mental health issues commit these extreme crimes. Such incidents have happened multiple times in the past, notably between 2010 and 2012, during a series of elementary school and kindergarten attacks.

Different from these kinds of attacks in Europe or the US, it often involves older perpetrators who are disillusioned, frustrated, and alienated from their communities amid rapidly changing social and economic conditions in China.

But for many netizens, such a possible motivation does not make sense. Some commenters wrote: “Taking revenge on society should never be done by venting one’s anger against children.”

Others wish the worst upon the perpetrator. One popular comment says, “I hope she gets the death penalty, and that the victims’ families get to execute her.”

By Manya Koetse

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