Beijing Hails Bin Laden's Death

But controversial comments by a state television producer fuel online debate.

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Iraqis in Baghdad watch a news broadcast showing an image allegedly of Osama bin Laden's bloodied face, May 2, 2011.

The death of Osama bin Laden will give a boost to anti-terrorism efforts, China said Monday as the country’s ever-vocal netizens extensively debated the killing of the global terror mastermind in discussions fueled by controversial comments by a Chinese state-owned television network producer.

Bin Laden’s death was one of the most popular topics on Sina Weibo, China’s most active microblogging service, with some netizens voicing relief and others expressing disbelief.

"We believe the death of Osama bin Laden is a milestone and a positive development for the international anti-terrorism efforts," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said of bin Laden’s killing by U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan.

"Terrorism is the common enemy of the international community. China has also been a victim of terrorism," said Jiang.

As the United States launched an all-out assault on global terrorism following the September 11, 2001 deadly attacks, China started its own "war on terror."

China’s anti-terrorism policy equates terrorism with groups pushing for more self-governing rights in the northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or in the Tibet Autonomous Region and shirks international human rights commitments, the Hong Kong and New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) said in a recent report.

Jiang said China has always been opposed to terrorism in all forms and has been actively participating in global anti-terrorism efforts.

"China upholds that the international community should step up cooperation in working together to fight terrorism," she said.

"China believes that it is necessary to seek both a temporary solution and a permanent cure in fighting terrorism and to make great efforts to eliminate the soil on which terrorism relies to breed," she added.


The debate over bin Laden’s death was fueled by controversial comments made by Zhang Xin, the program coordinator and producer of the military and defense channel at China’s state-owned CCTV.

He called bin Laden a “hero” of the Arab world.

In a post, Zhang wrote “Single-handedly confronting the world’s sole superpower the United States...bin Laden is the greatest national hero in the history of the Arab world.”

While some netizens favored Zhang’s evaluation, many Internet users blasted his words as fallacy.

“On Weibo, many people are now scolding the CCTV military channel producer, but I don’t think his post necessarily reflects the official stand of CCTV,” said Wen Kejian, a scholar based in the southern China city of Hangzhou.

“However, Zhang Xin’s words revealed at least a trend of recent CCTV broadcasting: spreading anti-American thoughts and distorted nationalism,” Wen added.
Hunan-based cyber activist Zhou Shuguang said, “In China, there are a lot of sympathizers of bin Laden on various websites. Nevertheless, there is no such support on Chinese twitter.”

“Based on the common understanding of basic human value, twitter users believe that there should not be any kind of sympathy for terrorists,” Zhou said.

Psychological setback
Meanwhile, an analyst on CCTV 13 said on Monday that bin Laden’s death could be a psychological setback for opposition groups in Libya trying to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

But a Chinese netizen by the name “lao rong” wrote on Weibo that this deduction was difficult to understand.

Hangzhou-based Wen Kejian said “I cannot understand the logic of those so-called analysts of CCTV. They are apparently attempting to mess up the situation.”

Gadhafi, battling rebels who control most of eastern Libya, has described his opponents as armed gangs inspired by Al-Qaeda founder bin Laden, who was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan on Sunday.

News of bin Laden’s death was also welcomed by Chinese Americans who went to war in Iraq as part of Washington’s war on terror.

“I was so excited by the news. We have finally got him!,” U.S. army veteran Zheng Tingjun said in an interview, speaking from Los Angeles.

“I experienced the fear of bullets [which] buzzed past my helmet in Iraq in 2003,” Zheng added.

Looking back, his father Zheng Huawei expressed relief. “On the day in 2003 when I learned my son marched into Baghdad, I sobbed in a bathroom worrying about his life.”

Chinese-American mother Ma Chongqing, whose son was wounded in Iraq, said he “proudly told me that many of his comrades-in-arms didn’t shed their blood in vain.”

Reported by Ding Xiao from Hong Kong and Xiao Rong from Los Angles for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translation by Ping Chen. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai


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