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Netizens Reflect on Anti-Japanese Propaganda After Stabbing at School Bus Stop
Netizens Reflect on Anti-Japanese Propaganda After Stabbing at School Bus Stop

Netizens Reflect on Anti-Japanese Propaganda After Stabbing at School Bus Stop

A stabbing at a school bus stop in Eastern China that left two Japanese nationals and a Chinese national injured is the latest instance of anti-foreigner violence to rock China in the last month. Two weeks ago, four instructors from Iowa’s Cornell College were stabbed in a park in northern China. Details of this latest attack are sparse: a Japanese mother and her child were stabbed while waiting for a school bus to Suzhou’s Japanese School, a school for Japanese children that follows a Japanese curriculum. Both sustained minor injuries. A Chinese bystander who attempted to prevent the attacker from boarding the school bus was grievously injured and remains in the hospital as of publication. On Weibo, reactions to the news ranged from despair over xenophobic propaganda to admiration of the Chinese bystander’s bravery. Particular ire focused on a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson’s insistence that this attack—like the one in Jilin—was “random”: 

Cor-Universe:When certain emotions get stirred up, they can lead to murder.

吃瓜的专业群众SH:If we don’t reform our education and propaganda systems, there’ll only be more of these “Boxers” going forward.

迷路的羊羔:Xenophobic propaganda: scares off foreign business → leading to job losses→ which inspire attacks on foreigners → scaring off more foreign businesses → causing more job losses → leading to even more xenophobic propaganda → scaring off more businesses → thus more job loss … I term this an “Okamoto cycle.” [A reference to a 2022 incident in which Chinese men, the Six Okamoto Gentlemen, opened up a Japanese convenience store franchise and then pretended to be anti-Japanese to drum up business.]

千里虽遥:Random attacks happen randomly, but xenophobic social media videos that incite hatred against everyday people and businesses should be brought under control.

你的眼我的脸:Why are these “random attacks” happening so regularly?

紫雨hz-1974:Once the Boxers rise up, it’s hard to suppress them.

Oi普希金:An evil fruit has ripened, and it’s the product of meticulous cultivation. Stop trying to argue that these attacks are “random.”

投资大未来:Draw a line in the sand: resolutely oppose the extremist nationalist mindset and behavior of would-be Boxers and Red Guards!

渔村戴汉斯:They should immediately give that Suzhou woman a medal for bravery.

猫叔对对撞:A social-media environment that incites nationalism and anti-Japanese and anti-American hatred is to blame. Idiots get suckered into that hatred, then go out and do evil things like stab Americans or Japanese.

天色蔚蓝2012:Don’t think this is just some “random” attack. Social issues start off small, and then they snowball. These days, the higher-ups hardly listen to the voice of the people, much less ask them what they think. Add to that an obsequious news media that only covers good news, and is always bragging that China is “maintaining steady growth.” When it all blows up one day, they’ll still be babbling on abouts “maintaining steady growth.”

禅中七祖:The attack in Suzhou, in which a Japanese mother and child and a Chinese citizen were injured after being stabbed on a bus, and the Jilin case, in which a number of Americans were stabbed [in a park], may appear to be random incidents but are actually the product of many years of extreme xenophobia, especially the irrational hatred of Americans and Japanese. In both Suzhou and Jilin, Chinese people were also injured. When those types commit crimes, they don’t distinguish between Chinese people and foreigners. [Chinese]

Japanese schools have long been the subject of viral disinformation in China. In 2023, the Hong Kong actor Bobby Au-yeung took to Weibo to imply that Japanese schools in China bar Chinese nationals from their grounds, inciting a burst of anti-Japanese sentiment. Earlier this year, a number of viral videos repeated the same misleading claim—with some speculating wildly that the schools are steps towards the creation of  “Japanese concessions” on Chinese territory. It is true that Japanese schools only accept Japanese students but that’s a product of Chinese law, not racial discrimination, according to a fact-check by Nanjing University’s media lab that was published in the Shanghai outlet The Paper. The NJU team further found that claims that the schools are shrouded in secrecy, obscuring their activities from Chinese citizens and authorities, are completely false, as the schools are regulated by Chinese education authorities and regularly publish information about their class schedules and activities. 

Despite such fact-checks, rumor-mongering about Japanese schools has remained popular on Chinese social media. A popular skit format on Douyin, Tiktok’s Chinese sister app, depicted Japanese school teachers hurling racist epithets at Chinese youths, who respond by lecturing the teachers on Japanese war crimes (and nuclear wastewater disposal) and then beating the teachers up and destroying the school sign. Although the skits were widely mocked on Weibo, one popular comment asked, “What’s the point of creating skits that incite such hatred?” Another answered the rhetorical question with sarcasm, “There isn’t any, except to rack up more clicks.” 

Anti-Japanese outbursts on the Chinese internet have been a prominent theme this year. After a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Japan on New Years Day, the Chinese internet saw mass displays of schadenfreude. Soon after, a nationalist vlogger alleged that a metro station in Nanning was festooned with the Imperial Japanese Army’s “rising sun” flag—only for it to later be revealed that the image was actually a traditional Chinese folding fan. Other notable incidents include rage over the water bottle brand Nongfu Springs for being “overly pro-Japanese,” the interrogation of a kimono-esque-garment-wearing cosplayer on the Shanghai Metro, and a middle school literature exam that allegedly featured Japanese war crime apologia. In June, a Chinese influencer calling themselves “Ironhead” spray painted the word “toilet” and then urinated on the Yasukuni Shrine, a Shinto commemoration of Japan’s war dead that controversially includes convicted war criminals. Online, many celebrated the man’s antics while critics, notably former Global Times editor Hu Xijin, were censored. 

In an article on the latest stabbing incident, The Japan Times wrote that rising anti-Japanese sentiment tied to the Fukushima wastewater release has led to increased harassment of Japanese schools in China: 

The number of students at Japanese schools in China has been recovering from a slump caused by the COVID-19 crisis, as more and more employees sent by Japanese firms to China are accompanied by family members following the end of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Japanese school in Suzhou has suffered harassment, such as eggs being thrown into its premises, following the treated water discharge, which started in August 2023.

In the wake of the knife attack, a major Japanese machinery maker whose Chinese base is in Suzhou is allowing employees needing to mentally take care of their family members to work from home, according to an official of the firm. [Source]