Is China becoming more violent? Patrick Chovanec asks:
Yesterday, a 40 year-old woman went on a rampage onboard an overnight sleeper train in northeastern China, stabbing and wounding nine people as they slept before she was wrestled to the ground by fellow passengers. The same day, a 46 year-old bank guard opened fire outside a courthouse in central Hunan province, shooting three judges dead and wounding three others before killing himself. The man was reportedly upset about the division of assets in his divorce case. These two incidents come on top of a series of bloody knife attacks aimed at schoolchildren that have left 17 people (including 15 children) dead, and dozens injured.
Certainly, the availability of online media has amplified the reach of random acts of violence, so that previously local acts of violence can now suddenly make the news around the country.
But the question remains whether random violence of this nature occurred previously at the current level of frequency. Has the pressure of such rapid modernization over the past three decades, and the toxic byproduct issues in living environment, income inequality, corruption, housing, etc, driven more and more lower-income classes, in the words of one of the commentators, postal?
Some bloggers think so.
Han Han, one of the country’s most popular bloggers (and a huge irritant to the authorities), wrote that killing the weak was seen by the attackers as the most effective way of exacting revenge on a society “that has no way out”. He said that local governments should send the guards at official buildings to help protect schools, “because a government that can’t protect children doesn’t need so many people to protect itself”.
Others say a lack of mental health help compounds the problem.
A newspaper in the central province of Henan said that while the West had many NGOs that could help people suffering from mental distress, in China there were very few. This, it said, led to problems becoming bottled up and eventually erupting in violence.