By Tom Hancock
The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have received a lot less attention in China than in the US and Europe. Chinese people have been more occupied with the Mid Autumn Festival, which also falls today. But the anniversary has generated discussion online.
Yao Chen, the Chinese actress who is the most popular poster on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, reposted a message about Betty Ong, a Chinese-American flight attendant on a plane which was flown into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. The post highlights the lengths that US authorities went to in finding and identifying human remains discovered at Ground Zero.
Netizens responding to Yao Chen’s post contrasted those efforts with the sloppy and rushed way rescue operations were carried out after the high speed rail accident in southern China this July. “What about the bones of the train-crash victims?” one netizen wrote.
A post asking “what were you doing on 9.11?” has been reposted more than 9,000 times, making it one of the hottest topics on Weibo today. The responses generally recall a sense of disbelief on hearing the news.
Cpis: During the night CCTV interrupted its broadcast to show the news. At the time I felt sorry for the people trapped in the building, and wondered what affect the attacks would have on international politics.
Crystal188: I was watching TV, and at first I thought it was a horror movie, but soon realised it was real. I called a friend in New York, but the call didn’t get through.
There are also reports of indifference:
黄俊国_挑战: At the time I was in the first year of college, leading an ignorant life, and I didn’t have any particular feelings about 9-11. Now ten years have passed, my main feeling is that house prices have risen too fast.
As well as enjoyment:
阿斌088: 2001 was the year of my graduation. To be honest, I was a somewhat excited to see the news, it seemed like the weak were finally taking arms against the powerful. Then I felt sorry for the office workers in the towers.
土人做傻事: I was in high school, and watched the new on may parents TV. At first I thought it was a Hollywood movie, until I realized that it was a real terrorist attack. I still remembered the NATO attack on a Chinese Embassy [in Yugoslavia, in 1999], and to be honest, I was somewhat pleased when I saw that the twin towers had been attacked
Sina’s finance reporter Quan Jing reflected on the schadenfreude felt by some Chinese:
“We should think about how many of us reacted to the attacks with schadenfreude. Are we guilty of too much nationalism and not enough humanism? People working in the Chinese media were sometimes ashamed of how the media represented the attacks, but maybe it wasn’t so much their own fault, as the way they were forced to act by the system. In the US, a tragedy is still commemorated ten years on, but in China, how many tragedies are forgotten just a year later?”
Hu Xujin, the editor of widely-read Chinese nationalist newspaper The Global Times, posted his reflections on the anniversary.
“Perhaps Al Qaeda is not just an organization, but more of an ideology, or a spirit. It might be easy to break up the organization, but it’s hard to clean up the pieces afterward. Terrorist organizations in China could be the same. If you hate terrorism, then you need to take it seriously.”