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In China, victims in school attack survive

December 15, 2012|By Barbara Demick

BEIJING -- On Friday morning, a lone angry man walked up to an elementary school and attacked the most vulnerable people he could find, children ages of 6 to 11. It was almost the same scenario as in Newtown, Conn., except this was in Henan Province, China, and the attacker was armed only with a knife, not a gun.

He injured 22 children, but nobody was killed.

Comparisons between the Dec. 14 school attacks 7,000 miles apart are inevitable and provoking much comment on both sides of the Pacific.

As news spread in China of the attack in Connecticut, in which 20 children were gunned down, Chinese commentators praised their country’s strict gun control laws.

"It's really scary. It was just 22 students injured by a knife yesterday in China. In the U.S., the children were shot to death. Looks like it's really very necessary to ban firearms," wrote a young Chinese man on Sina.

"Without gun control, the result of the Henan incident would not just be 22 injured children," wrote another.

Zhang Xin, a prominent real estate developer and one of the wealthiest women in China, deplored the lack of political will in the United States.

"Really, why can’t these politicians put aside their difference and prohibit the sale of firearms?"  she wrote in her widely followed microblog on Sina Weibo.

The Chinese microblogs are rife with social critics, many of whom defended the U.S. system over the Chinese.

"I can guarantee that if everyone is allowed to have a gun in China, the  number of corrupted officials would be half of what it is right now and there wouldn’t be forced demolitions," wrote one microblogger.

China has experienced a number of attacks on schools by men using knives or meat cleavers. The perpetrators were mostly middle-aged men who had lost jobs or homes. In 2010, nearly 20 children were killed and more than 50 injured in a string of separate attacks. In the most serious of the cases, in Fujian province, a knife-wielding man killed eight children.

The latest case took place in Xinyang City, Henan Province. The attacker was a 36-year-old man, Min Yingjun, who police said had psychological problems. He apparently took the kitchen knife from an elderly woman whom he also slashed. In another case earlier this week in Beijing, a 25-year-old man was arrested for cutting young women on the subway. Police said he had been jilted by his girlfriend and wanted to exact "revenge on society."

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