US media under attack for 'double standards' on terror

Updated: 2013-11-06 00:47

By ZHAO YANRONG (China Daily)

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Experts have criticized US media outlets for their unbalanced coverage of terrorism after a car crashed and exploded in Tian'anmen Square, saying such coverage could damage the national interests of the two countries.

Using different standards to define terrorism in the two countries will hinder cooperation in the fight against terror, they said.

US media, including CNN, questioned the characterizations of the attack in front of the Tian'anmen rostrum in central Beijing on Oct 28. The vehicle plowed through a crowd, crashed and caught fire, killing five people and injuring another 40.

Chinese police have identified the crash as a violent terrorist attack, and five suspects have been detained. The attack was "carefully planned, organized and premeditated", police said.

Inside the car were Usmen Hasan; his mother, Kuwanhan Reyim; and his wife, Gulkiz Gini, from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

An article published by CNN from Sean Roberts, an associate professor and director of international development studies at George Washington University, criticized China's ethnic and religious policy and expressed his sympathy for the terrorists.

The article, which appeared three days after the attack, called the crash in Beijing a "cry of desperation" and blamed it on the conflicts between China's Han and Uygur ethnic groups.

Yu Tiejun, secretary-general of the Center for International and Strategic Studies at Peking University, said the report reflects a double standard in reporting on terrorism.

"When the Western media made such comments, they should have thought about the Sept 11 attack. If we had said it was not terrorist activity, when the Twin Towers collapsed and the Pentagon was damaged, what would the US people have felt about such comments?"

Yu said the square is a site with special meaning for Chinese people. Located in the heart of Beijing, the square has witnessed many important moments of China's development.

The five killed in the attack include three people in the jeep, a Filipino female tourist and a male tourist from Guangdong province. The 40 injured people included tourists from the Philippines and Japan.

"Every country has ethnic issues, but an ethnic problem is not terrorism. The attack killed and injured so many innocent people. Can they still use ‘an ethnic issue' as an excuse?" Yu added.

Alessandro Rippa, a PhD candidate in social anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, insisted that the attack should be called what it was: terrorism.

"We are constantly reminded of this when something happens in Boston, London, Madrid or any other Western city. Media run stories on the victims, their backgrounds, and how they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why hasn't this been the case with Monday's attack in Beijing?" Rippa said in his article, published in The Diplomat on Sunday.

Meng Jianzhu, chief of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the instigator behind the scenes is a terrorist group — the East Turkistan Islamic Movement — which is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the United Nations.

Denying the existence of terrorism in the attack is harmful to the US' interests, said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations and director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University of China.

"The US media and government should be very clear that the ETIM is connected with al-Qaida. They attack China, and there is the possibility that they will attack the US in the future," Shi said.