2012 Jul 12 Foreigner Killed at Qianmen: The Web Reacts
Yesterday’s stabbing near Qianmen that resulted in the death of an American man has been making the news across the city and is garnering plenty of reaction on the web. Netizens have a lot to say about the latest incident in a summer of violent incidents between both Chinese and foreigners.
Few details has been released about the attack, but what is known at this time is that the victim was 62-year-old American Howard Thomas Mills, who arrived in Beijing on July 3. A suspect, apprehended shortly after the attack, has been identified as An Libo, a Heilongjiang native who arrived in the city that morning. An had previously attacked and robbed people at knifepoint in Shanghai and is assumed to suffer from a mental disorder.
The Beijing police first posted any mention of the incident yesterday at 5pm after An was in custody but didn’t release any other details. Some news postings that went up on Weibo following the attack were taken down shortly afterwards, possibly in a move to control the reaction.
This summer has already seen a number of violent incidents that have involved both Chinese and foreigners and the city is currently overseeing a 100-day crackdown on illegal aliens, a move that some have blamed for inflaming tensions between locals and expats.
Weibo reactions to the Qianmen attack have been relatively mild – though it's possible that stronger opinions have been censored. There have been the standard condolences for the man ("Poor American, RIP"), and some questioning about the Chinese legal system that released the attacker when he had been caught in Shanghai. ("So the guy came all the way to BJ to kill a laowai, why did nobody stop him the first two times in SH?")
Meanwhile, media coverage has been fairly straightforward. Some outlets have made the case that this is an ongoing issue but reference several isolated incidents over several years. Beijing Cream, which reported on this yesterday, pointed out that reports of murders are not common. Outside of an AP wire report, major US outlets have not seen fit to cover the killing, but Bloomberg has mentioned a cryptic sentence from an embassy official that "The US is aware of media coverage ... and cannot release any information because of privacy laws."