In the manifesto that has been identified with the suspect in the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, the writer says he identifies most closely with China’s political and social values.
That has caught people’s attention in China, sparking discussion of whether China’s ethnic policies could have inspired a terrorist.
On Weibo, a Chinese platform similar to Twitter that’s censored so only tacitly state-approved posts remain online, dozens of posts blamed Western media for negative portrayals of China.
“What he appreciated is what Western media is propagating about our management of Muslims in Xinjiang,” one user wrote, according to What’s On Weibo, a website that monitors Chinese social media. “He was influenced by the foreign media disseminating that we’re anti-Muslim.”
China has been widely criticized for its crackdown on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province in the country’s northwest; the government maintains that it is fighting terrorism.
On Twitter, a wider discussion took place among Chinese users who can bypass state Internet controls; many live outside of China. Some pointed to the Xinjiang policies as ethnic supremacist behavior.
Michael Anti, a Chinese journalist who posted a snapshot of the manifesto, said he thought the shooter’s statement was based on a shallow understanding of China as a “non-diversified country” whose strength comes from homogeneity.
“China is No. 2 now and strong. He thinks China is achieving this because of one nation, one country,” Anti said.
China is a diverse country of 56 ethnic groups, though 91% of the population is ethnically Han.
The state has been criticized for forcing minority assimilation to Han culture, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang. “Sinocization” of religion is also one of Xi Jinping’s key initiatives.
But it’s unclear whether the manifesto writer knew any of this.
Chinese President Xi Jinping officially denounced the attack and sent condolences to the victims.
Meanwhile, the Global Times, a conservative state-run Chinese tabloid, published an editorial criticizing white supremacy as part of the “Western values” that the United States promotes.
“White supremacy is not an isolated ideology. It prevails in Western centrism and the popularization of the so-called Western universal values,” the editorial said. “The West should be inclusive toward globalization instead of always prioritizing its own benefits and taking Western superiority for granted.”