What's behind the rash of Chinese school stabbings?

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
May 18 2010 11:42 AM

China Under Pressure

What's behind the rash of Chinese school stabbings?

(Continued from Page 1)

Even lesser disputes can lead to violence. My friend Wan Jia, a railway engineer, recently clashed with the workmen he hired to renovate his apartment. The contractor demanded an extra $1,000, and when Wan Jia refused to pay, he sent hired thugs to Wan Jia's office to intimidate him and follow him around. Wan Jia finally called the police.

But the police didn't care to get involved. They brought Wan Jia and the crew of thugs to the police station and left them alone in a room. "They said, 'It's your problem; deal with it yourself,' " Wan Jia told me. "As long as no one gets hurt too bad, the police don't care."

With no one to rely on but himself, Wan Jia called his wife and told a white lie about needing to take a last-minute business trip. He dug his heels in and stayed in the room for the next 26 hours. His opponents worked in shifts; at one point, Wan Jia found himself facing off against 10 men. But in the end, the contractor's general manager agreed to negotiate a new price—and Wan Jia was able to go home.


Wan Jia believes the people behind the school attacks are furious, and he can understand why. These days, everyone in China feels a lot of pressure from work, from their families, from themselves to get ahead, he said. People are forced to face problems by themselves, without help from the police or the government. In Wan Jia's view, the attackers are just the mentally disturbed few who reach a breaking point.

When school shootings take place in the United States, Americans tend to focus on the killers' psychological problems, trying to find what is aberrant about those particular individuals. When talking about the recent school killings, many people in China point to cracks that run through the foundation of their society. They believe that the stresses that have driven several people to raise knives to children in the last two months are typical of the frustrations of life in China.

"People feel that society is unjust, and when they are treated unfairly, they have no one to go to," Amani told me when we discussed the school stabbings. "Most people swallow it and swallow it and swallow it, until they can't anymore."

Like  Slate on Facebook. Follow Slate and the Slate Foreign Desk on Twitter.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.