pearl tower french flag color

Chinese Nationalism Dulls Sympathy for Paris Terror Attack Victims

“Direct your concerns and prayers towards Lishui”

Last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris that have claimed 129 victims is a terrible tragedy, but it appears that something is holding back Chinese from freely expressly their sympathy and support — nationalism.

While this sentiment runs throughout China, the media isn’t shy about leading popular opinion. Chinese state-run newspaper the People’s Daily does not want the Paris terror attacks to overshadow a deadly landslide that coincidentally happened at the same time, and it does so by urging its readers to choose one over the other.

lishui landslide

Twenty-five people died when a landslide struck the village of Lidong near the city of Lishui, Zhejiang at 10:50 on Friday night. Only one person has been rescued from the landslide so far, while another 12 victims remain unaccounted for. Twenty-seven Lidong homes below an adjacent mountain were buried, with another 21 flooded.

Landslides are a common occurrence in China that have derailed trains, blocked train tracks, capsized boats in the Yangtze River, and have caused numerous fatalities during south China’s annual rainy season. It’s a problem that keeps happening in China, but with the Paris terror attacks attracting world-wide attention on Friday night, the Lishui incident is at risk of being ignored in the daily news cycle.

That’s where the People’s Daily intervened by sharing a Weibo micro-blogging post at around 8pm on Saturday. The post compares the two tragic incidents:

lishui landslide

People’s Daily Weibo Opinion: Cry for Paris, but don’t forget to cry for Lishui as well.
The Paris terror attack has shocked the world. Terrorists are the enemy of the entire word which is united in its humanity to defeat it. Cry for Paris, but don’t forget to cry for Lishui as well. A landslide occurred in Lidong village, Yaxi County, Liandu District, Lishui, Zhejiang. The latest news reports there are nine dead from the disaster, with another 28 victims unaccounted for. Every life that is taken away in a disaster is valuable; please direct your concerns and prayers towards Lishui.

Even though many Chinese have shown sympathy towards the people of France, many of the top-voted responses said deaths from the Paris terror attacks are simply not as important as those from the Lishui landslide, two incidents that were otherwise separate and unrelated before the People’s Daily Online made the connection.

Here are what some Chinese people had to say in response to the People’s Daily Online Weibo post:

(highest rated comment)
I don’t cry for Paris, I pray for that whore the Virgin Mary to curse them. I only pray for Lishui. 

Pray for your own compatriots! France supports Tibet independence!

Some people these days only know how to concern themselves with the outside world. They think that everything outside the border is great. If you think that it’s so great in other countries, then you should immigrate! If you’re going to be spouting off your opinions, then you should show some concern about your own country. China is not worse than other countries!

Cry for Paris? From where do I have such emotion? I am only sympathizing with them! I only cry for the tragic deaths of my compatriots!

The perspective of the masses is directed by the media. Don’t forget this, because the people won’t forget this. 

Even more importantly, don’t forget about Tianjin.

The running dogs of capitalism have gone to lick France.

pearl tower french flag color

Even though Chinese President Xi Jiping has made an official statement saying that China is devoted to fighting terrorism, and the Oriental Pearl Tower lit up its exterior in the colors of the French flag, the feeling that the Paris terror attacks were stealing attention away from China’s own domestic tragedy have been spreading online.

In a CCTV report about the Lishui landslide that made no mention whatsoever about the Paris terror attacks, netizens used the opportunity to compare the two incidents in much the way that the People’s Daily Online had done:

lishui landslide

I ask the municipal government of Shanghai to shine their lights for the victims of the Lishui landslide. I also ask the network of the addicted running lap dogs of the Virgin Mary to shout aloud ‘May heaven protect Zhejiang’. I also ask that the traitors belonging to the media outlet Caijing as well as others to pray for the victims of Lishui.

Hey, Oriental Pearl Tower, why do you pray for foreign countries, but not for China?

My compatriots (who died in the Lishui landslide), even though you didn’t die in a terror attack, you are still Chinese people. The Oriental Pearl Tower won’t shine its lights for you. When I return home I will light a candle for you… 

pearl tower french flag color

Then there’s this comment:

paris terror attack

Don’t the lives of Chinese people matter?
On November 13, Paris suffered an unprecedented terror attack that led to the deaths of some 140 people. On television, French President Francois Hollande showed how moved he was by the attack by the shakiness of his voice. What is unacceptable is that the 2009 terror attack in Urumqi, in which 197 people died and 1700 people were hurt, was far more severe than in Paris. However, the French government showed no anger or “shaky voice” at this time, but instead interfered with China trying to implement the death penalty upon these terrorists.

It may seem like a minor miracle to get Chinese to actively care about the terror attacks in Paris, but there is one thing that may come to pass. Since the attacks occurred on Friday, there has been no contact with 27 year-old Chinese graduate student Liu Anyu, drawing fears that he may be one of the victims who succumbed in the attacks.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor