China Blocks Information on Kindergarten Killings

BY ROLAND SOONG
Aug 27, 2010

News of yet another killing rampage in a Chinese kindergarten filled the pages of Western media, but in China, it’s hard to get information.

 

There has been yet another knife slashing incident in China again. The murder, which took place inside a kindergarten in Zibo city, Shandong province, has been reported mainly in non-official channels inside China and in the foreign media. The general view is that official media are not reporting it because they want to avoid the “copycat effect”. However, it remains to be seen if this approach is effective.

The Associated Press, Agence France Presse, New York Times, BBC, Sing Tao (Hong Kong) and other overseas and Hong Kong/Macau media have widely reported on this case of teachers and children being attacked in a kindergarten in Zibo city, Shandong province on August 4. An unidentified man entered the Boshan District Experimental Kindergarden at around 4pm on August 3.

At the time, parents were picking up their children. The man used a knife to kill and injure many teachers and students.

There are different casualty numbers being reported. Agence France Presse reported at least three dead children, three injured children and three injured teachers; New York Times reported four dead children and about 20 injured; Associated Press reported four deaths (including one teacher). Sing Tao (Hong Kong) quoted a netizen who said five deaths (three teachers and two children) plus 12 injured (and one of the dead teachers is the vice-principal of the kindergarten).

According to unconfirmed information, the 27-year-old knife wielder has turned himself in. Other information has it that the knife wielder fled the scene.

Voice of America (VOA) called the Zibo city government to ask about the case. The person on the phone said tersely: "There is nothing to say about this matter. There is nothing to tell you about this case."

The reporter then asked whether the city government intends to hold a press conference about the case. Before the reporter even finished asking, the government official hung up the telephone. According to information, the top leaders of Shandong province are at the scene of the murder right now.

Other kindergartens in Zibo city seem to have been told about this incident.

One teacher at the Tongli Kindergarten told VOA: "We are unclear about this case."

Reporter: "You don't know how many children died, right?"

Teacher: "Yes, we are unclear about this case."

Reporter: "Has the case impacted you?"

Teacher: "All kindergartens are enhancing their security procedures. Security procedures have to be enhanced."

There was no reporting on Wednesday about this major incident in the official Chinese media, including Xinhua's Shandong local news channel.

 

"There is nothing to say about this matter.”

"There is nothing to say about this matter.”


Associated Press said that the situation may indicate that all official media editors have been told to avoid this sensitive topic. The Associated Press reporter has clearly interviewed the Zibo city government and got the answer: "No comment."

On Baidu, news headlines for the Zibo Experimental Kindergarten bloodshed only lead to the message: "The topic does not exist; or it has been deleted...

On Baidu (China’s leading search engine), there are many news headlines for the Zibo Experimental Kindergarten bloodshed. But those links only lead to the message: "The topic does not exist; or it has been deleted; or it is being reviewed."

Overseas media and Hong Kong/Macau media all mention that the Zibo incident is the latest of a series of kindergarten mass murders in China this year.

Some netizens say criminologists believe that crimes have strong social imitation/copycat effects. The Chinese authorities are therefore concerned that inaccurate reporting and media sensationalism would cause even more negative effects. They are thus blocking information in order to prevent more occurrences. But many netizens believe that if people want to make up rumours, the government cannot eliminate them by deleting Internet comments alone.

 

This translated post was originally published on ESWN in August 2010.

 

 

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