In response to the bombing in Boston, one Chinese netizen 晓玲说事 concluded: “Terrorist attack works in the US, but not in China.” Why? Netizen 蔡壮锐 explained: “With no immediate press conference and all information blocked, the terrorists would have no proof that they indeed attacked. There will be no impact at all.” Another netizen Evildido chimed in: “All near-by roads will be blocked for a similar event in China. And…there are cheng guang (China’s city law enforcement officers known for bullying street vendors). No terrorist can beat a cheng guan.”
Like in most places in the world right now, the explosions during Boston Marathon is headline news on most Chinese news sites, as well as social media sites. “Bombing attack during Boston Marathon” is now the NO. 1 top trending topic on Sina Weibo, China’s leading microblog service.
Most netizens lit a virtual candle to pray for those who were affected in the attack. Like one netizen 七天七Ye commented: “Strongly condemn all terrorism.” However, cynical responses like the one above is also not uncommon to see.
Despite a ton of “RIP”, many Chinese netizens couldn’t help but project themselves into a similar situation and image how the Chinese government would react, which, unfortunately, brings back unpleasant memories. For example, when two high-speed trains collided in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province in 2011, not only did the Chinese government try to silence journalists and lawyers, they even hastily ordered the burial of the derailed trains, which were key to figure out what exactly caused the accident.
Popular Weibo celebrity 假装在纽约 commented: “Three hours after the Boston bombing, news websites and TV channels are streaming live news – there is no ban on news reporting. Local police held a press conference immediately – quick reaction plus transparent information and thus there is no rumor or panic. Google released Person Finder; the public offered help for those runners who are from outside of Boston or the country; thousands of people left their contact information. In the face of a severe situation, the government, the media, companies and individuals all work together smoothly. It’s something we ought to learn.”
Such sentiment is echoed by many netizens: “I’m not saying that the US is much better than China. But in the face of a bombing attack, they have absolute information transparency and absolute freedom of speech. There is no ban on reporting or block of information. All media are allowed to report, which will never happen in our country.”
Netizen Sefa沈芳 sharply pointed out: “In the US, people are reported to be sad or scared. In China, everyone in the victim’s family is ‘emotionally stable’ (a term very often used in official news to describe the mental state of victim families).”
Another netizen 苦逼座的圣斗士ZYY described what he believed would happen in China in a similar scenario: “In China, government press release starts at best 6 hours after the attack. During the 6 hours, most media remain silent because they are not given the permission to report yet. On the Internet, rumors start to spread. Angry netizens start to blame the government for doing nothing. Public intellectuals (term used to refer to vocal liberals) start to accuse the government of failing their responsibilities. No one mentions a word about the victims or those who suffer from the attack. Our government has a long way to go. Our netizens also have a long way to go.”
Of course, there are also those who think the attack is very well deserved. Like netizen 陈旻cm commented: “Because of US intrusion or invasion, countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria all suffer from explosions and attacks every so often. If the US keeps messing around, terrorist attacks targeted at the US will only increase. No matter how soon and well the US media do the reporting, it’s still the ordinary American people who are paying back.” Another netizen 矢口一厅 commented: “The US is asking for troubles and fight-backs by imposing its values onto others.”