Socionomics Watch—China Edition

Needle attacks in China
No one has been infected, poisoned or otherwise harmed by the needle attacks that are terrorizing citizens in Urumqi, the capital of the troubled Xinjiang region.

The official China Daily newspaper quoted Qian Jun, the director of China's Disease Control and Biological Security Office, saying: ``Although no radioactive or toxic substances were found, some patients showed various levels of anxiety and depression and have been recommended for psychological counselling.''

The findings appear to confirm growing suspicions that the needle attacks in Urumqi were minor annoyances compared to the panic they sowed in a population already jumpy after a summer blighted by the worst ethnic violence seen in China in recent years.

The last official count, on Sept. 4, had 531 people reported stabbed by needle-toting villains, but only 171 with puncture marks to prove it.

The government news agency Xinhua quoted Wang Wenxian, a Urumqi police officer, saying: ``The needle stabbings did not cause serious damage to the victims' health, but they caused public panic.''
The panic should be over now that three people have been sentenced to jail for 7 to 15 years. One woman stabbed a woman in the butt, and two others used a needle to hold up a cab driver. All three are drug users, and Weigers.

What I'd like to know is when the attacks occurred. The woman stabbing sounds like it could be random violence with a weapon on hand, while the hold up makes me question whether it occurred before or after news of the attack got out. For public safety purposes, however, putting any needle wielders in jail should calm the populace. Han Chinese recently protested in force over the government's inability to protect them from needle attacks.

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