【英语中国】中国袭击事件引发对恐怖主义的讨论

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所属分类:双语中国

2013-11-9 18:22

小艾摘要: Two deadly attacks in China in the weeks leading up to a much-anticipated leadership meeting have ignited debate around the thorny question of what China considers to be terrorism. State media said th ...
Two deadly attacks in China in the weeks leading up to a much-anticipated leadership meeting have ignited debate around the thorny question of what China considers to be terrorism.

State media said the culprit in the latest attack, in which homemade explosives detonated outside a Communist Party building in central China, was 'dissatisfied with society.' Meanwhile, officials and state media have said a suicide attack last week at Beijing's Tiananmen Square was the work of terrorists.

The displays of dissonance come at a sensitive time as the new generation of leaders gather this weekend in Beijing to set China on a path to more sustainable growth and address some of the inequalities that have been exacerbated by the recent decades of breakneck expansion.

Both attacks involved political targets, and both took the lives of bystanders. But the different reactions they have produced, both on the part of authorities and online, has led to questions inside and outside of China about how to characterize acts of violence with political overtones there.

Police in the northern city of Taiyuan arrested a local man in connection with explosions outside the Shanxi provincial Communist Party headquarters, the official Xinhua news agency reported Friday. The suspect, a 41-year-old ex-convict named Feng Zhijun, had confessed to the bombing, Xinhua said.

The Wednesday blasts killed one and left eight others injured. Car windows shattered 100 meters away, and authorities discovered steel balls and circuit boards--evidence of homemade explosives--scattered around the scene.

China's state broadcaster reported Friday night that Mr. Feng, who had spent nine years in prison for theft and confessed to the bombing, perpetrated the attack because 'he was dissatisfied with society.' It wasn't possible to reach Mr. Feng, and it wasn't clear whether he had legal representation.

The bombing followed another attack nine days earlier, in which a sport-utility vehicle plowed through crowds of tourists at Tiananmen Square and burst into flames in front of Beijing's Forbidden City. Five people died, including a family of three inside the vehicle. A top security official later said it was the work of a terrorist group that has been waging a violent separatist campaign in the far northwestern frontier region of Xinjiang.

Although neither the attackers nor authorities have offered specific explanations for either of the attacks, some commentators have drawn distinctions nonetheless.

'There is a difference between 'taking revenge against society' and 'terrorist attacks,' even though both target regular people,' Wang Zhanyang, a political scientist with the Communist Party's Central Institute of Socialism, wrote on his verified account on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service. 'If investigations reveal it's the work of Xinjiang separatists, then it's a terrorist attack.'

Attacks using improvised explosives happen from time to time in China, as people seek to take out grievances on government agencies and other institutions, angry over confiscated property, employment disputes and other perceived miscarriages of justice. Such attacks are typically attributed to 'social problems,' with Internet users often blaming the government and sometimes even expressing sympathy for the attackers.

Attacks by members of Xinjiang's mostly Muslim Uighur minority are an exception. Owing to ethnic tensions with China's Han majority and the politics of separatist groups, violence perpetrated by Uighurs is almost uniformly criticized both online and in the traditional media as terrorism.

Chinese state media and Internet users last week joined in slamming the publication of editorials and opinion pieces in foreign media, including The Wall Street Journal, that questioned use of the word 'terrorism' to describe the Tiananmen attack, with some suggesting that China's own ethnic and religious policies were to blame.

'By demonizing the Uighur people as terrorists or criminals, Beijing justifies its crackdowns on the Uighur people as necessary to protect the security of Han Chinese,' Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled ethnic Uighur who heads the World Uighur Congress and is highly critical of China's policies in Xinjiang, wrote in a Journal op-ed article on Monday. 'The enemy of a peaceful future between Uighur and Han Chinese is the Chinese government.'

Pointing to the fact that the passengers of the car were related, other foreign-media commentaries--as well as a handful of Chinese Internet users--suggested the attack could have been motivated by a personal grievance unrelated to the separatist movement.

On Wednesday, Xinhua joined other state media and Foreign Ministry officials in blasting what Beijing has often described as a 'double standard' on terrorism. Pointing to the discovery in the SUV of gas canisters and a flag bearing extremist religious messages, a Xinhua commentary lamented that Western commentators were loath to condemn the attacks because Uighurs were said to be involved.

'But they marched with little hesitation to elaborate their biased reading of life and goings-on in Xinjiang,' the commentary said.

In a meeting on Tuesday with local government officials that included a representative from Xinjiang, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged authorities to 'prevent the frequent occurrence of incidents that attack society's psychological bottom line,' according to a transcript posted to the government's website.

In the aftermath of Wednesday's bombing, some speculated that it, too, might be the work of separatists. Li Wei, one of China's top experts and government advisers on terrorism, noted signs the multiple explosions were coordinated in saying the episode had the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

Friday's announcement of the confession of Mr. Feng, whose surname suggests he is not of Uighur dissent, splashed cold water on theories that the attacks were connected.

Response on social media to the Taiyuan bombing differed markedly from the Tiananmen attack. While some users denounced Mr. Feng for putting innocent lives at risk, many others laid responsibility for the attack at the feet of local officials.

'The government ought to contemplate the source of these conflicts. That's more important than arresting and executing people,' wrote one user on Sina Weibo, where some referred to Mr. Feng as a 'hero' and a 'brother.'

Li Wei, the terrorism expert, said Friday that he stood by his previous view that the Taiyuan bombing resembled a terrorist attack.

'I don't agree with connecting this kind of activity with ethnicity. It doesn't really matter if they are Uighur or Han or whatever ethnicity,' he said, adding that social-media users might have been angrier at the Tiananmen attack because it happened in the center of Beijing and led to more deaths.

Mr. Li also argued the debate was complicated by language, saying that the word for terrorism in Chinese strongly implies ideological motivations, while in English, the term is defined primarily in terms of actions, such as violence against civilians to intimidate a government or a population. For that reason, China's central government maintains an official definition for terrorist activities but not terrorism in general, he said.

In further illustration of the complexity of the debate, a number of Internet users criticized authorities for saying that Mr. Feng was trying to exact revenge on society rather than the party or government.

'He chose the gate to the party headquarters. It's clear he wanted revenge on the party,' wrote one microblogger. 'If he wanted to punish society he would have put his car on a square or in front of a school or supermarket.'

Getty Images周五,北京,中共十八届三中全会开幕前一天,军警在天安门广场上巡逻。上周天安门发生一起自杀式袭击事件。
备受瞩目的三中全会召开前数周内,中国发生了两起致命的袭击事件,引起了外界对中国认为何种行为构成恐怖主义这一复杂问题的讨论。

中国国有媒体说,最近一次袭击事件中,在山西省委大楼外引爆自制炸弹的嫌犯“对社会不满”。与此同时,中国官方和国有媒体也已经表示,上周在北京天安门广场发生的自杀性袭击是恐怖分子所为。

这种不和谐事件出现的时间正值中国新一届领导层召开高级别会议之际。中国领导层定于本周末在北京召开三中全会,议题将是帮助中国走上更可持续的经济增长轨道,同时解决近几十年来随着经济快速扩张而加重的一些不平等问题。

两起袭击事件都涉及政治目标,也都夺走了旁观者的生命。但无论是在政府层面还是在互联网层面,两起事件引发的反应却都是不同的,这促使境内外人士开始思虑,如何给这种带有政治影响的暴力活动定性。

据新华社周五报道,太原警方已经逮捕了涉嫌在山西省委大楼外制造爆炸事件的一名当地男子。新华社说,犯罪嫌疑人丰志均现年41岁,有犯罪前科,对制造爆炸的犯罪事实供认不讳。

周三发生的这起爆炸事件造成一人死亡,另有八人受伤。案发现场100米外的车窗被震碎,现场周边发现了散落的钢珠和破碎的电路板,证明爆炸中使用了自制爆炸装置。

据中国国有广播机构周五晚间报道,丰志均蓄意制造爆炸是因为“他对社会不满”。丰志均曾因盗窃被判处有期徒刑九年,对制造爆炸的行为供认不讳。记者无法联系到丰志均,也不清楚他是否有法律代表。

山西省委爆炸事件发生前九天,一辆吉普车在天安门广场闯入人群,撞向天安门金水桥护栏并起火。包括肇事车辆中的三人在内,共有五人在这次袭击事件中丧生。一位高层安保官员在事件发生后表示,这起事件是由新疆西北部边境从事暴力民族分裂活动的恐怖主义团体实施的。

尽管有关部门和袭击者都没有具体解释袭击的原因,但一些评论人士给两起袭击划出了界线。

中央社会主义学院的政治学家王占阳在新浪微博(Sina Weibo)上写道,“报复社会”与“恐怖袭击”是有区别的,尽管它们都是以平民为袭击对象;如果调查结果显示这是疆独分子干的,那就是恐怖袭击。

使用自制爆炸装置的袭击事件时不时会在中国发生,因为总会有人对财产被没收、劳资纠纷和他们眼中的其他司法不公正现象感到愤怒,从而寻求表达对政府部门和其他机构的不满。这类袭击的原因通常被归咎于“社会问题”,互联网用户往往会指责政府,有时甚至还会表达对袭击者的同情。

但新疆少数民族维吾尔族成员发动的袭击是个例外。由于一些维族人与汉族存在矛盾,民族分裂组织也在进行政治活动,维族人蓄意进行的暴力活动几乎会在网络上和被传统媒体一致指为恐怖主义。

上周,中国国有媒体和互联网用户就抨击了一些外国媒体发表的社论和观点文章。包括《华尔街日报》(The Wall Street Journal)在内的外国媒体此前质疑能否使用“恐怖主义”一词来描述天安门袭击事件,其中一些媒体认为中国自己的民族和宗教政策才是引发问题的原因。

世界维吾尔代表大会(World Uighur Congress)主席热比亚•卡迪尔(Rebiya Kadeer)周一在《华尔街日报》撰写观点文章称,北京将维吾尔族人妖魔化为恐怖分子或罪犯,从而证明有必要通过打击维吾尔族人来保护汉族人的安全。卡迪尔是一名流亡海外的维族人,强烈批评中国政府的新疆政策。卡迪尔认为,维族人与汉族人和平共处的障碍是中国政府。

其他外国媒体和一些中国网民指出,车内乘客都是亲属关系的事实意味着这起袭击事件是个人报复行动,而与分裂主义运动无关。

周三新华社也加入了其他官方媒体和外交部官员的行列,指责西方在反恐问题上采取双重标准。新华社评论文章指出,在SUV车内发现汽油桶和印有极端宗教内容的旗帜,西方人士不愿谴责袭击事件是因为涉及维族人。

评论文章称,但是他们却几乎毫不犹豫地发表他们对新疆状况的偏见。

据政府网站登载的文字记录显示,国务院总理李克强周二在会见包括新疆官员在内的部分地方政府官员时,敦促有关部门防止冲击社会心理底线的事件频繁发生。

在周三的爆炸案发生后,一些人推测这可能也是分裂主义分子所为。中国反恐高级专家及政府顾问李伟指出,多个爆炸装置在很短时间相继引爆的迹象,具有恐怖袭击的特点。

周五公布的爆炸案嫌疑人丰志均,他的名字表明他不是维族人,他的供诉给袭击事件与恐怖活动有关的说法泼了冷水。

太原爆炸案在社交媒体上引起的反响与天安门袭击事件明显不同。虽然一些网民谴责丰志均殃及无辜,但也有不少人将袭击事件归咎于地方官员。

一位用户在新浪微博上写到,政府应该反思造成这些冲突的根源,这比抓人和处罚人更加重要。一些微博用户还把丰志均称为“英雄”和“兄弟”。

反恐专家李伟周五说,他坚持此前的观点,即太原爆炸案与恐怖袭击类似。

李伟称,他不同意把这种活动与民族联系在一起,他认为,袭击者是维族、汉族还是其他民族并不重要。他还说,社交媒体用户可能对天安门袭击事件感到更加愤怒,因为它发生在北京中心,造成更多人死亡。

李伟还称,语言不同使得争论更加复杂,在中文里,恐怖主义(terrorism)这个词蕴含强烈的意识形态动机,而在英文中,这个词主要定义行动,比如针对平民的暴力活动,用以恐吓政府或全体人民。他表示,出于这个原因,中国对袭击事件的官方定性是恐怖活动(terrorist activities),而不是恐怖主义。

显示争论复杂性的迹象还包括,一些网民对政府关于丰志均是在报复社会而不是报复党或政府的说法提出批评。

一位微博用户写到,丰志均选择在党委办公地门口,显然是想报复党;如果他想报复社会,他应该把车停在广场,或者是学校、超市前面。

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