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Jan Cao

Why Some Are Making Negative Comments About Boston Bombing Victim

The third fatal victim of Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing was a Chinese graduate student at Boston University. The Chinese Internet is lit up with thousands of virtual candles in remembrance of her, amid some controversy over her background.

The Chinese Students and Scholars of Boston University (BUCSSA) confirmed that the victim is the missing student they had been looking for. On Sina Weibo, China’s most popular micro-blogging service, @BUCSSA wrote: “Please sleep peacefully in heaven… Your friends said that you often can’t find the way. If you are lost, don’t worry, our heart is your home, we will always be with you. Let the dead rest in peace, and those who are alive, live strong. ”

The victim’s identity is not made public here due to her family’s wishes. In a Weibo account that many believe belonged to her, the last entry on April 15th was a picture of a bread and fruit salad entitled, “my wonderful breakfast! :)

More than 9,500 comments followed the entry, turning this Weibo page into an impromptu online memorial lit with thousands of virtual candles. Over 3,000 comments were added in one hour.

Phoenix News reported earlier today that the missing girl came from Shenyang, although that detail has since been removed, perhaps out of respect of the family’s wish to keep the victim’s identity private.

However, in that article’s comment section, instead of the thousands of “RIP” and little candle icons under the victim’s last post, a more vitriol online sentiment emerged, reflecting many Internet users’ suspicion that any Chinese student in the U.S. belongs to China’s upper-middle class and profited from corruption.

There, the hottest comment was one made by @Daqingyuqingsong, who wrote: “It’s your fate! Isn’t China safe? Why do you have to go to America? Rich people!” That comment received over 2,000 “likes.”

A screenshot with several negative comments on this topic has been widely circulated on social networking site Renren.com. These comments include, “Children of those powerful and rich, while attending fancy schools, are also facing fancy dangers” and, “apparently this is a corrupt politician’s child, going there to show off. You deserve it! This is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket. Let’s take a look at her background.”

Such comment laced with apparent class resentment may continue to surface since the victim’s identity and family background has not been confirmed, and rumors may shape Chinese Internet users’ perception of the victim. Ultimately, these hateful comments are not directly targeted at the victim of this terrible tragedy, but only reflect the common resentment against income inequality and social disparity in China’s today.

Xu Wenguang (@许文广), a producer at China Central Television, wrote:

“Among the three fatal victims of the Boston bombing, one is confirmed as a Chinese citizen. She was watching the marathon with her classmates. Twelve years ago, 22 Chinese died in the Word Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. There were three Chinese on the plane that ended up crashing into the Pentagon. Terrorism, no matter where it happens, always aims at innocent people like you and me. Nobody is a bystander when confronting such inhumane act of violence.”

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Jan Cao

Jan Cao is a senior and a comparative literature concentrator at Brown. She loves watching Japanese TV dramas and cooking.
  • Peter Davies

    Her hometown newspaper has already identified her. And one of her friends was badly injured. ABC News (US) has run a story on her and the other two victims, one of whom was an 8-year-old boy.

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  • Brian

    The Shenyang Evening News said on its official Twitter-like microblog account that the victim’s name is Lu Lingzi. An editor at the newspaper said that Lu’s father confirmed his daughter’s death when reporters visited the family home. The editor declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to foreign media.

    • Shuami

      A la NYT? They actually mentioned her name AND the fact that her family did not wish to have her name and personal info disclosed in the SAME paragraph.

  • BobbyWong

    Oh pleeze, don’t try to link a few obscure weibo that are exteremely annecdotal to some larger slant against China.

    Baidu has weibo search, and searching “Boston Marathon Explosion” (波士顿 马拉松 爆炸) shows overwhelming sympathy towards the victims, including the Chinese student:

    http://www.baidu.com/s?rtt=2&tn=baiduwb&rn=20&cl=2&wd=%B2%A8%CA%BF%B6%D9%20%C2%ED%C0%AD%CB%C9%20%B1%AC%D5%A8

    “人生是一个历程 … 勇敢活着” – Life’s a journey … live bravely

    “遇难者中有一名是就读于波士顿大学中国籍硕士留学生。愿死者安息。” – Among the dead is a Boston College graduate student from China. May the dead rest in peace.

    “压抑得快窒息了” [the story] is sufficating

    “今夜,让我们为爱与和平而祈祷。愿逝者安息,生者坚强” – Let’s pray for love and peace tonight. Let the dead rest in peace, the living strong”

    “为逝者哀悼,为生者祈福。/蜡烛” – mourn the dead, pray for the living. #Candle

    “愿困境中的人们早日得到安宁” – wish those in the predictment soon find peace

    “默哀” – silently mourn
    I can go on and on. What you cherry picked is, again, exteremely annecdotal.

  • Teaspoon

    I agree with Bobby. I find it extremely inappropriate that in light of this Lingzi Lu’s death, the one aspect that Tea Leaf Nation chooses to focus on is the handful of heartless comments directed towards her. No matter what the tragedy is, there will ALWAYS be a few people who make comments like that. This really isn’t news. I cannot think of any reason why you would even choose to highlight this except in a shameless attempt to exploit a sensational headline. Shame on you!

    • Shuami

      I posted a post similar to yours and Bobby’s questioning why the author wants to cherry pick a few negative ones out of the thousands comments offering condolences to Lu’s family. But my post was promptly deleted. Hope yours last longer. p.s. To the mod: I have saved my post this time and will re-post it if it is deleted.

    • Paul Schoe

      I am not sure if the negative news is not worthwhile mentioning. In light of the 2.000 likes that the comment of Daqingyuqingsong received, the critical note is news as well. It shows the bigger picture that there are more views to this then the thousands of supportive comments and candles that the author also mentions.

      And this article does not only mention the candles, it shows one as well, just as it shows the very personal last picture and text that the girl posted on Wiebo, showing with that to us that she was a person just like us, whose short life deserves respect and consideration.