China Power

The Wheel of Tragedy

A Beijing journalist offers a moving response to a recent spate of attacks on children.

China Digital Times has a thought-provoking and insightful piece up that it says was written by a journalist in Beijing in response to the March 23 attack on a school in Fujian Province in which Zheng Minsheng killed eight children. As Xinhua notes today, the attack was one of six attacks on schoolchildren in the past month, and schools and police across the country are now on alert.

The Beijing reporter’s piece is apparently difficult to find on Chinese search engines, but is floating around on social networking sites. I’ve been trying to access the full version on China Digital Times, but haven’t been able to this afternoon so am going to quote at length from a saved version and hope that readers will get the chance to read the full version at some point:

‘From the time that Zheng Minsheng repeatedly slit the throats of those young children, a wheel of tragedy was put in motion.

‘Very quickly, Zheng was sentenced to death to be carried out immediately. Two days after we reporters were sent out to cover this incident, the propaganda department sternly ordered us to return. What they eventually told us was obvious from the start—we could not conduct interviews, we could not editorialize, we could only publish drafts that had been prepared by Xinhua News. At times I really feel like it’s so tragic but also so ridiculous. Even if we did conduct interviews, what would come of it? Even if we did editorialize, what would come of it? For a lot of things can there really by any harm caused by giving a full and clear accounting of what transpired? Can you establish peace on earth just by hiding things and covering them up?

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‘Of course you can’t establish peace that way. After all the news media organizations were forced to castrate themselves, the second slaughter of young students occurred, followed closely by the third, then the fourth. If they weren’t elementary school students, then they were preschool students. All were totally unarmed and defenseless children. For these incidents that followed, our instructions were the same. After the slaughter in Taixing, while a colleague was still on the plane, the order came once again. Propaganda department, fuck your mother hard 100 times over!

‘In the beginning, I wondered whether the media’s reporting caused more deranged lunatics to imitate the actions of others and recreate their own cold-blooded slaughter. Later [I] discovered this was not the case; it turns out that most media organizations didn’t say anything about these incidents. Like us, they too were forced by this series of bloody murders onto the wall of shame—unable to report and unable to editorialize. We are also all unable to just express our overflowing anger by cursing them bitterly. In this regard, we are just a bunch of shameless spectators watching these murderers take the stage one after another—and during all of this spectacle forced to remain silent.

‘When everyone, one after another, becomes silent, the wheel of tragedy is already set in motion. The first people it crushes are those poor children and the dreams of their parents. Next is Zheng Minsheng [the first murderer], followed by the second group of children, followed by the second murderer. . . until finally, finally those crushed will be the children of the propaganda department. Of course when the children of the propaganda department are slaughtered, we will also not say anything. We will just watch silently from the side as these young lives vanish. Then we will see the propaganda department go insane, just like how the parents in Taixing lost their sanity. Or perhaps, we in this process, have already been crushed [by this wheel of tragedy].’