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People's Daily Online>>Education

Glee at students' deaths reveals desperation

By Huang Xiangyang (China Daily)

08:19, April 20, 2012

The killing of two Chinese students in the United States last week failed to stir sympathy and grief among some of their compatriots in China. Instead, their deaths were greeted with jubilation by some online.

In a society simmering with discontent born out of a sense of injustice, real or perceived, the students unfortunately became victims a second time, this time to the morbid state of mind of some netizens.

Some Chinese Internet users rejoiced in the murders because they believed the victims were "rich second-generation". The young man and woman, both in their early 20s, were driving a supposedly brand new BMW outside the University of Southern California campus when they were shot. In China that brand provokes hatred in some as a symbol of wealth, power and privilege.

In fact, the two students possessed none of these. According to their classmates, the BMW was secondhand, bought by the male student only recently as a convenience to aid his job hunting. Neither student came from a rich family background and both were thrifty during their two years in the US.

It is easy to condemn the callousness shown by netizens toward their deaths, which has inflicted additional injury on the students' families. But to understand what is behind this unhealthy psychology that is eating away at our humanity, we need to take a look into what has gone wrong in our society.

In China, no one can deny that the wealth gap is widening at an alarming speed despite government efforts to narrow it. More than 30 years of economic boom has generated unprecedented affluence to a proportion of the population, but it is also leaving an ever-growing group behind. They include the majority of those living in rural areas and the low-income and disadvantaged groups in cities. About 130 million Chinese still live below the extreme poverty line of $1.25 a day set by the World Bank.

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