School attacks reflect badly on Beijing
The string of attacks on children that have rattled the country has laid bare an embarrassing governance failure and put Beijing's efforts to build a harmonious society in jeopardy, political analysts said.
They questioned the government's handling of violent school crimes in recent weeks, warning there could be more if authorities continue to gloss over the deep-rooted social and political causes behind the attacks.
The latest attack at a kindergarten in Shaanxi yesterday brought to eight the number of attacks on children since March, including two off-campus rampages this week.
'That happening once is a tragedy, and twice is a real problem,' said Dr Kerry Brown, a senior fellow with Chatham House, a London-based think tank. 'But several times in a row shows a level of social unease and sickness which is simply not being talked about.'
The government should be blamed for its glaring failure to enlist the disadvantaged despite top leaders' rhetoric about building a harmonious society and promises of social equity and justice, he and two mainland analysts said.
President Hu Jintao has often referred to building a harmonious socialist society since he became general secretary of the Communist Party in 2002.
But his slogan had become increasingly empty - even vacuous - in recent years in light of simmering grassroots discontent and mounting social woes, analysts said.
Beijing-based Professor Liu Junning said the authorities' belated beefing up of school security would not help much, referring to the government's listing of school safety as a 'crucial political task' last week.
'Everyone is asking why those underprivileged people have become angry and disturbed enough to kill the most vulnerable, helpless members of society. What has possibly gone wrong?' he asked.
'More, similar violence will inevitably follow ... The government will not be able to stop such attacks until it figures out why so many people have so much resentment and anger and those attackers are willing to commit such crimes even if they cost them their own lives.'
Noting that such school crimes were unheard of in China previously, Zhu Lijia , a professor at the National School of Administration, said the government should seize the opportunity.
'Top leaders have promised to let people lead their lives with respect and dignity, and they should deliver on the commitment, starting with a rectification movement clamping down on corrupt and incompetent officials.'