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In China's primary school stabbings, some see social injustice as culprit

Children returned to class Tuesday after three primary school stabbings last week. On Web chat rooms and blogs, commentators pointed to China's repressive one-party rule, and raised concerns that the young were an easy target of those seeking to avenge anger over corruption and inequality.

A student waves to her teacher while walking past security officers and a policeman standing guard outside the Chijia Elementary School in Beijing, Tuesday. Extra Chinese police and security stood guard as nervous parents dropped off their children on the first day of classes after three back-to-back attacks on schools last week that left several dozen children injured.

Andy Wong/AP

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Police mounted special guard on primary schools around China Tuesday, as children returned to class for the first time since three back-to-back knife attacks last week left more than 50 toddlers injured.

Chinese officials and citizens, meanwhile, continued to ponder the social and emotional strains in China’s tightly controlled but rapidly changing society, searching for an explanation for the shocking wave of violence.

A top member of the ruling Communist party appeared to suggest Monday that the perpetrators of five separate attacks on primary schools and kindergartens over the past five weeks may have acted out of frustration with social injustice rather than just mental instability.

“Party and government officials should maintain close contact with local communities, work units, and families to familiarize themselves with public opinion and resolve peoples’ complaints,” said Zhou Yongkang, a member of the nine-man Standing Committee of the Communist party Politburo at a conference on maintaining stability.

'A society that has no release valve'

On Internet chat rooms and blogs, where the knife attacks have dominated discussion for several days, many commentators have blamed the nature of Chinese society under repressive one-party rule.

“It has become the most effective way of avenging oneself on society,” wrote one of China’s most widely read bloggers, Han Han, in a post that was quickly deleted by the authorities. “In a society that has no release valve, killing the weakest members of society has become a release.”

“The fundamental problem is that our society is sick,” argues Zhou Xiaozheng, a retired sociology professor in Beijing. “We suffer from corrupt officials, unfair distribution of resources, and an unjust legal system. These are the sorts of things that attack a society’s immune system.”

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