The Madeleine Brand Show for April 27, 2012

Victims of USC shooting death vilified online

Los Angeles Police Department spokesman

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Richard French holds a poster offering a USD $125,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the murder of Ming Qu (L) and Ying Wu (R), two University of Southern California (USC) students from China, during a news conference April 13, 2012 in the Los Angeles street where the murders occured two days ago.

A week after two students from China were shot and killed less than a mile from campus, it has been announced that more police will be patrolling the neighborhoods around USC.

Thirty more Los Angeles Police Department officers have been stationed in the area, more security cameras are slated to be installed, and a prosecutor will focus on prosecuting crimes around USC.
The changes are supposed to reassure the campus community, which has been frightened and saddened by the shooting deaths.

A memorial service for the victims, Ming Qu and Ying Wu, drew more than 1,000 people. But overseas the reaction has been different. The victims have been vilified on Chinese Internet sites.

“I think there's a general impression among a lot of people in China that these were rich kids, and that translates somehow to that they deserved what they got,” said Mei Fong, former China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. “I think it’s illustrative of a wider sentiment…on the concept of all these perceived high-living student studying overseas.”

Fong says this harsh reactions stems from a growing divide in the perception of privileged and less-privileged Chinese citizens. She explains in her column for the L.A. Times that many Chinese resent American-educated Chinese students because they’re viewed as rich and having more opportunities than the average Chinese student.

In addition, initial news reports of the shooting had falsely identified the car as a newer model BMW, a car viewed as a luxury in the U.S., but even moreso in China.

“Most kids here at 16 you're driving… most kids in China at 16 are studying really hard for the university entrance exams,” explained Fong. “It comes into this whole issue of stereotypes. Obviously to a person who is working in an Apple factory, these kids are unbelievably privileged.”

Guest:

Mei Fong is a lecturer at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Links:

Mei Fong's op-ed in the L.A. Times.


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