HONG KONG — China's sympathy and sadness for the Boston bombing deepened today, as it was revealed that the third fatality from the attack was a Chinese national.
Though the Chinese Consulate said that the victim's family asked that she not be named, local reports have identified her as a statistics graduate student from Shenyang, a city in the far northeastern region of China, who previously attended the Beijing Institute of Technology. She attended the race with two other Boston University students, one of whom, Zhou Danling, was also hospitalized and is in stable condition.
The Chinese student's death prompted an outpouring of grief and condolences.
On Sina Weibo, China's Twitter, the student's account was flooded with more than 180,000 comments on her last post, a photograph accompanied by the text, "my wonderful breakfast." Thousands posted images of a flickering candle and wished the young woman to "sleep peacefully in Heaven."
Her Facebook page shows pictures of the student visiting idyllic New England landscapes and posing with friends in the International Students Group. Her listed interests include the Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Economist.
Yet amid the sympathy online, there was also an undercurrent of resentment. In the comments section of a Chinese-language news story on the Chinese student's death, thousands "liked" a comment that caustically remarked that anyone rich enough to study in the United States had it coming.
"It’s your fate! Isn’t China safe?" the user wrote, as translated by TeaLeaf Nation.
On other forums, users were even more rancorous. In one widely-shared post, a user wrote that "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."
While a minority response to the bombing, these bitter responses underscore the resentment many ordinary Chinese feel toward elites — particularly the politically well-connected — who have the resources to send their children abroad. Nearly 200,000 Chinese students attend American universities.
It was perhaps this sense of connection between the countries that led many Chinese to express sympathy after the Boston blasts, even before the victim's Chinese nationality was revealed. This stands in marked contrast to the ambivalent, if not gloating, response in China after the 9/11 attacks.
Author Zuojiacaojunshi expressed it well:
"When 9-11 occurred, many Chinese hailed at it," he wrote on Weibo, as translated by China Daily.
"But after the Boston blasts yesterday, barely cheers but condolences, denouncement, and concern were spread on the Internet. With the development of the Internet in the past 11 years, especially the popularization of Weibo, many Chinese have changed their thinking and world outlook."
Boston University said the Chinese student was one of three watching the race near the finish line.
Relatives of the deceased asked that their loved one not be identified, although the South China Morning Post said at least two Chinese media outlets had ignored the request.
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