China Paper: ‘CNN Way Out of Line’ Over Tiananmen Attack

Questioning of Beijing's official line provokes outrage from the Chinese Communist Party–linked daily Global Times

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Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images

Chinese plainclohthes police hold barriers covering the scene of a car crash at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Oct. 28, 2013

Update, Nov. 5, 21:30 ET: CNN has issued a statement in response to the Global Times editorial, saying “As with all opinion pieces that appear on cnn.com, the views expressed are solely those of the author and do not in any way reflect the position of CNN.”

Terrorists, freedom fighters or desperate individuals? In the wake of a fiery vehicular attack on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Monday, Oct. 28, the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party–linked newspaper, criticized CNN for running an opinion piece on its website that questioned the official claim that Muslim Uighur “terrorists” had masterminded the assault.

The attack killed five (the three occupants of the jeep and two tourists) and injured 40.

“CNN is way out of line this time,” opined the Nov. 4 Global Times editorial, referring to the CNN piece headlined “Tiananmen crash: Terrorism or cry of desperation?” and authored by Sean Roberts, a George Washington University professor who studies the Turkic Uighur ethnic group.

“It is of a vile nature to present such a view at [sic] the mainstream media,” the Global Times said.

After a near news blackout on the attack at the symbolic heart of the Chinese nation, the country’s security czar said on Nov. 1 that the violence was masterminded by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which the U.S. designated as a terrorist organization more than a decade ago. Chinese police have said they found signs with “radical extremist” words in the jeep, which had Xinjiang plates — although how those banners survived the flames that burned out the jeep is one of the many mysteries still surrounding the case.

(MORE: China Government: A Deadly Fireball in Tiananmen Is No Big Deal)

East Turkestan is the name used by Uighurs for their homeland, which is known in Chinese as Xinjiang. Uighur separatists claim the region, the largest of the Chinese provinces, was briefly independent from China early last century. Several deadly attacks have been blamed on Uighurs in the past, including a pair of 2008 strikes in the Silk Road oasis of Kashgar and a 1997 bus bombing in Beijing. Four years ago, riots between Uighurs and China’s ethnic Han majority claimed some 200 lives in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi.

Roberts says that Beijing’s “lack of transparency historically” over the conviction of Uighurs on charges of political violence is a good enough reason to doubt “the characterization of [last] Monday’s events.”

His article traced the ways in which Uighurs have been repressed in Xinjiang, ranging from limits on religious and cultural expression to their being overwhelmed by a flood of ethnic Han migrants, who tend to snap up the most lucrative jobs. “One feels compelled to question whether Monday’s alleged attack was a well-prepared terrorist act or a hastily assembled cry of desperation from a people on the extreme margins of the Chinese state’s monstrous development machine,” wrote Roberts.

Countered the Global Times: “Those involved in suicide terror attacks all have their own desperation and animosity, no matter if Al Qaeda members who attacked the West or Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel.”

This wasn’t the first time CNN has been subject to Chinese criticism. In 2008, as violence erupted between Tibetans and Han, CNN published a photo on its website that critics said presented a cropped, incomplete picture of the rioting. Although far more Tibetans than Han died during the days of bloodshed, some Chinese felt that CNN and other Western media focused too heavily on anti-Tibetan assaults, as opposed to anti-Han attacks. A website called Anti-CNN.com was established, defending China’s rule over Tibet and pointing out instances of racial discord in the West. (The nationalist website, which later changed its name, has succumbed to infighting and financial woes, according to the Economist.)

The Nov. 4 Global Times editorial sounded similar outrage. “By publishing an ill-intentioned commentary, CNN lost its reputation among Chinese readers as well as jeopardizing the image of the U.S.,” it said.

MORE: Beijing’s Tiananmen Square: Centuries of Chinese History and Protest

116 comments
wave_22
wave_22

Also, when 911 happened, why U.S. government could not be 'patient' and instead they initiated the military attack directly?

wave_22
wave_22

 I'm wondering what will U.S. say if something like 911 happened in China initiated by the minorities.

wave_22
wave_22

I'm wondering what will U.S. say if something like 911 happened in China initiated by the minorities.

driftor
driftor

It's stupid especially because US is still fighting terrorist. What would China react when you have another terrorist attack? 

XiHu
XiHu

I don't feel the terrorists' desperation. However, I can smell a hint of bitter desperation for the fact China is definitely, inevitably, steadily  growing stronger and catching up . I understand your earnest hope for a sudden fall down of China. THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN. So say whatever you like in your frightful funk. You can't stop the wheel of history.

nidn1231
nidn1231

FINAL COMMENT - if you are not from China or even remotely been close to the country do not comment on it.  Before I came to the US I thought everywhere was like New York City but after I got here I noticed that half the country does not know how to write or read properly.  The other half live in the woods.  High crime rate in all the cities. Drug addicts (pot heads), prostitution, gangs, etc. So do not comment on another country unless you know the true facts.

shuami
shuami

"Questioning of Beijing's official line provokes outrage from the Chinese Communist Party–linked daily Global Times"

Judging from the comments here, it appears that the rather "tilted" article has also provoked OUTRAGE from fair minded readers. BTW. Have you folks noticed that the "like" function has been disabled? I am "questioning" the motive behind this move.

ThomasChoi
ThomasChoi

By using the same logics and implications, why not questioning the attacks on USA foreign embassies, not to mention the 911 event. Scums like that do have a "right" to write, this is the sign of "downfall" of USA. CNN, better clear your acts. No wonder Jimmy thought it is only a "joke". Guess running out of cash might drain their "mind to judge" the "right and wrong" also.

FrankTan
FrankTan

Hehe, CNN is always way out of line on Chinese problem... 

Xiao Chen
Xiao Chen

This is not about communism or capitalism, this is terrorism. No one or news agency in China will say 9/11 is a "cry of desperation”. It IS way out of line.

ChasL
ChasL

Prof. Roberts, was the Boston Marathon bombing terrorism or cry of desperation?

rorywong654
rorywong654

Any terrorist or oppress government support by USA is hero and freedom fighter. That is why US is world police and not terrorist state. Since the 'deep throat' during the Nixon era,there is no freedom of speech in the US media. They are all monitored or penetrated by CIA or FBI in a way orchestra with the US government's policy or self interested group

Yoshi
Yoshi

Too bad! Freedom of expression and of the press are two very central tenets to keeping SOME control of government. Not that I'm a big fan of CNN, I say to the Chinese government: Bite me!

megliov
megliov

Terrorists are terrorists, they had mouths to speak ,brains to take knowledge but they didn't use the legal way to express , they just took the extreme way to show their dissatisfaction, killing innocent people and tourists.     It's really ridiculous that a  LA airport shooter seem to be more like a terrorist than a group of  mass killers ,you american media have double standard towards world affairs which based on your own intrests not justice. Shameless hypocrites. 

Michael A Rosinski
Michael A Rosinski

Let's see, freedom of press and religion, or communism. Which do you prefer?

EricThompson
EricThompson

In the USA at least it gets debate. In China the government is terroristic. Have you forgotten the atrocities in Tianamen Square? Running over students with tanks? Slaughter? To this day China does admit it happened and if brought up will put a person in prison or worse. Forget an apology for the killing. The terrorists that did the most recent attack are minor bit players in the terrorism game when compared to the rulers of China. 

Joseph Weiland
Joseph Weiland

"Way out of line"? By who's authority or opinion? Just haven't grasped the concept of free speech and international media apparently

pewpewpew01
pewpewpew01

@ThomasChoi Rofl, they are questioned... including the 9/11 event--- from movies to congressmen and women. A sign of the "downfall of the USA"? A little melodramatic, aren't we? It was an Op-Ed anyway... why is this an issue?

It sounds like you're just a 'white knight' for the Chinese government here. Almost silly/immature.

XiHu
XiHu

@Michael A Rosinski I know what you mean. Innocent people deserve to be killed in their happy trip just because their Country is not " FREE "and "DEMONCRATIC"( I don't know what you know about China, I don't think most of minority people have any problem about the goverment) .If that is the FREEDOM and DEMONCRATIC your American is trying to sell to our, as you say, "OPRRESSED", we don't need that. " One don't agree with F and D deserve to die", That is another kind of PRESS, that is an insult of your so called Freedom and Demoncracy

ThomasChoi
ThomasChoi

@Michael A Rosinski dream on.................

homework4add
homework4add

@Michael A Rosinski 

This is not about political ideology, it's about common sense. If terrorists launch a suicide attack on US soil, it's an terrorist act, but if the same people doesn the samething in the capital of China, it's a cry of desperation? So the terrorists are actually freedom fighters and victims here? This is intolerable double stndard.

This is not an act against Chinese government, it's an attack against innocent people! Not just the government, if you talk to Chinese, you would see that most Chinese are angered by the attitude of western media. China hates all kinds of terrorist acts around the world, and it condemned terrorist attacks in NYC and Boston, why can't America treat it in the same way? This kinds of double stardard also shows up in Syria, where we publicly supports al-Qaeda the "freedom fighters"

rorywong654
rorywong654

@EricThompson US debate everything but is the killing was stop? No,I am more worry about US than China. US puts his murdering around the world as the act of God and for the good of human kind

megliov
megliov

@EricThompson at least most people in China don't worry about being shot on the street and their children don't need to wear body armors for school and most of all ,they don't need to borrow another country's money for living and their governmen-t never shut down before. how do you know about China ? you live there ? all your superficial views all come from some stupid shameless media like CNN which speak for your hegemony governmen-t

XiHu
XiHu

@nidn1231 Then tell me what part of China, name the provinces you have been to. Half of country, as you say, right?

ThomasChoi
ThomasChoi

@pewpewpew01 @ThomasChoi  a 'white knight' for the Chinese government here, lmfao, not almost, you are simply silly/immature, similarily like your name pewpewpew01, go to peepee.


EricThompson
EricThompson

@nidn1231 @EricThompson China beats, kills and imprisons its own people frequently. Only if you bring it up on a blog like this, you get arrested. Americans criticize their government and politicians daily. A right. In China the state does that itself with any criticism ending in jail or death. But no worries, you won't see it on the internet as anything against the dictatorship is not allowed. China cannot change its government. Death to anyone who tries.

EricThompson
EricThompson

@rorywong654 @EricThompson China kills its own people daily and if their family or neighbors complain or protest, they too go to jail or are killed. No protest allowed. Government personnel kill and force abortions on their own people. One of the most shameful governments on the planet.

EricThompson
EricThompson

@megliov @EricThompson People in China are always worried about being shot in the street, by their own government. More people are killed in a month in China than are killed in the USA in a year. At least I can read all the media. CNN or the Chinese counterpart. In China they aren't allow. They can't see this. Anyone posting like this would likely be arrested and killed. Forced abortion, locked down internet, no criticism of the government. Hell on earth. One thing China does have that the US doesn't; the richest politicians in the world. They have stolen the output of the country to enrich themselves, making the old American robber barons look poor in comparison.

Fatso
Fatso

@megliov @EricThompson Good information "from" you, perhaps you should emigrate to China for better standard of living like Snowden living in Moscow now.  Or better, you inform China's media about "your" facts and suggesting them to tell their citizens don't emigrate or travel to the U.S. as there are so many better countries out there comparing to the U.S.

nidn1231
nidn1231

I'm from Shanghai.  The half of the country I was talking about is the United States not China.

NiChao
NiChao

@XiHu @nidn1231 I lived in shanghai before i come to japan studying aborad.what I see just corrupting and hopeless circle.this nation will be fallen soon i am enjoying watchiing it dead .of course no culture to inherit so no blood line will discse descend yeah.hell country

PeterYang
PeterYang

@EricThompson @nidn1231 Dude, go learn Chinese and to go to Chinese news websites. Negative comments are all over the place. And FYI, they use their Sina Weibo accounts associate with their comments. Never heard of Weibo? That pretty much Chinese Facebook where your real name is shown. Got it? If people were to put imprisoned for negative comments on government in China, China will never need to force the 'only child' policy. LMAO

EricThompson
EricThompson

@nidn1231 @EricThompson By that train of thought, I have never seen discrimination, sexism and slavery never happened. Because I don't see it. OK, so on one of your trips to China, criticize the government and the leader publicly on the internet, broadcast it and prove me wrong. This type of protest and comment is common and even boring here.

nidn1231
nidn1231

@EricThompson @nidn1231 Well atleast when I go there every year I do not see that happen to anyone I know.  So where you getting your 'first hand" information from?

PeterYang
PeterYang

@EricThompson @ZhaoChenatLA Now you are just being ignorant... Most people in China are quite content with their lives although they disapprove many government corruptions or disagree on many government regulations. Still there is nothing much to protest on. And for your information, there were many peaceful protests happened in the last decade in China, in fact some police officers even helped to blocked traffic for the protesters. Violence against protesters? That even happens here in Seattle. Heard of Seattle PD pepper sprayed an old lady during the Occupy Seattle period? 

EricThompson
EricThompson

@ZhaoChenatLA Go to China, protest the government, and we will never hear from you again. Of course you couldn't see these internet sources in China so it probably couldn't happen.

ZhaoChenatLA
ZhaoChenatLA

@EricThompson you just show me how brainwashed american people could be, just like people in other part of the world...

XiHu
XiHu

@EricThompson @pingpong @Yoshi You are cheated by your own government and media. You believe them, but don't believe in people who actualy been in China? May be someday you can come to China, see by your own eyes. Believe it or not, most people in China don't even care about nationality at all. "I am Uyghur"》》"Oh. So you get extra points in exam, that's good. "》》That's all. I do not distinct people by their nationality, not as much as you do with Hispanic or Black. That rarely come to our mind, unless some uterior motivated people started something. Believe me, They are not out of desperation, but a hope for China's down fall.

EricThompson
EricThompson

@pingpong @Yoshi How can they pay high taxes when they are allowed only menial low paying jobs. Most are unemployed. If they protest, they are imprisoned and/or killed.

Yoshi
Yoshi

@pingpong @Yoshi Correct. 

I see articles showing otherwise quite often, though. Care to recommend any sources I can link to?

pingpong
pingpong

@Yoshi 

I happen to know a few Tibetans. As far as I know, Tibetans are happy--they pay less tax and pay no interest for mortgage. I guess you knew zero Tibetans.