Comparing How Foreign Media Described Kunming Attack and Woolwich Attack

Comparing How Foreign Media Described Kunming Attack and Woolwich Attack
Mar 08, 2014 By

Editor’s note: The attack that took place at Kunming train station last weekend has rocked China to its core. All major newspaper picked up the story but during this past week Chinese media has denounced them and foreign government for their unwillingness to describe the attack as terrorism. The following article, translated from ifeng, compares the language used by two British and two American media when describing the Kunming attack and the London’s Woolwich attack, which took place last May. It should be noted that the US later came out and described what happened in Kunming as “an act of terrorism.” 

Road signs for the two cities.
Source: aweigend
Road signs for the two cities.
Source: satguru

After the March 1 terrorist attack at the Kunming train station, Yunnan, CNN and other Western media were collectively “blind” and deaf, or they neglected their duty, when talking about the sudden and violent terrorist nature of the violent force. A year before, when the “London stabbing incident occurred” the wording used by the newspapers painted the picture of a completely different scene. 

Incident Description: The Kunming Train Station Attack

The attacks in Kunming happened on March 1, 2014 at 21:20. A group of 10 attackers carrying knives formulated an attack at the train station in Kunming, Yunnan. The attackers wounded and killed people in the crowd waiting in line for tickets. 29 people were killed in the attacks and 143 were wounded. Police were able to kill 4 of the attackers and arrested 1 of them on the scene.

Incident Description: London’s Woolwich Stabbing

The London attack happened on May 22, 2013. In Woolwich on the east side of London there was a savage attack. According to police reports, two men ran the victim over with their car and then used knives to stab him to death. The British government announced that the attack was a terrorist attack.

A Comparison: Words Used in Determining the Nature of the Attacking

Foreign Media

The Kunming Attack

The Woolwich Attack


Knife Attack

Terror Attack

The Telegraph






Fox News

Uighur-Han Conflicts

Terrorist Attack

A Comparison: Words Used to Describe the Attack

Foreign Media

The Kunming Attack

The Woolwich Attack



Long-feared attack

The Telegraph


Truly barbaric


Mass stabbing


Fox News

Rudimentary in weaponry

Brutally murdered

What was the US government’s stance

March 2, 2014:
The US Embassy and the US State Department individually reached out to the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the US. They told the high officials that they were shocked over this grave and violent event and China’s losses. The US denounced the cruel, violent behavior of the attackers. The US government asked for punishment from the Chinese government and expressed grief towards the murdered victims as well as those who were injured and the families impacted.

May 23, 2013:
The day after the murder in London, President Obama, with “stern wording” condemned the stabbing incident that had happened in the London streets. He emphasized the US’s firm stance in standing together against extremism and terrorist activity.


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Keywords: “an act of terrorism” Kunming knife attack; Woolwich attack how foreign media described Kunming attack


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I do agree with the writer that the media tends to use different expressions to describe certain events, which gives them more or less importance. On the other hand, after reading the comments, I have to say: Please, stop confusing "Terrorism" with Religions. The religion has nothing to do with it. If you believe it does, please do more research before writing such comments

Mar 18, 2014 22:02 Report Abuse


Although for a large part I agree with Lord_hanson in that the time and government information may contribute to how its reported, I do agree that there is a (natural?) tendency to put things in slightly different lights and severity. In such news and reporting about China can be scewed a bit. Although this article goes into it a bit harsh and with just 1 example which I do not feel is good (as Hanson said), I do acknowledge that I see the same trend. (although not always so strongly) Personally I object more to the generalization of "western" being UK and USA and as if that represents all western countries..

Mar 13, 2014 14:46 Report Abuse


I can't believe someone took the time to write this comparison. Sounds like someone (Chinese man) is really insecure about their country. In addition, the USA and UK are allies, China is not an ally of either. The UK and USA have a long history. It's like comparing the relationship between China and the DPRK with the USA/DPRK relationship. Completely different relationship. Such arrogance by this author is laughable. In short, we're not friends China. Stop trying to fluff your feathers!

Mar 12, 2014 22:36 Report Abuse


You've hurt the feelings of the Chinese People! Grow up. And they wonder why no-one takes them seriously.

Mar 09, 2014 16:57 Report Abuse


Yeah, lets forget all the people that died and look at the use of wording in foreign media. Of course Chinese Newspeak is the only correct way to report and speak, right?

Mar 09, 2014 14:17 Report Abuse


It's comical you would compare and criticize foriegn media when Chinese government media lies to its own people on a daily basis. Why weren't they called terrorists? Because it was bizarre that it happened in Kunming, and they weren't sure if it was a terrorist attack or not as Kunming is not usually associated with the Xinjiang issues. Stop whining.

Mar 08, 2014 13:42 Report Abuse


I love that somehow, in spite of everything, this still manages to be America's fault.

Mar 08, 2014 13:41 Report Abuse


Everything is somehow Americas fault.

Mar 08, 2014 19:11 Report Abuse


Families reel, witnesses haunted after China's deadly Kunming terror attacks cnn's headline so.... this article is wrong.

Mar 08, 2014 11:00 Report Abuse


This is what happens when a dictatorial government consistantly changes details to furthur self interest. No one really knows what is going on in Turkistan. The CCP keeps us in the dark. So when this happens it is difficult to gage the amount of "truth" in the reports.

Mar 08, 2014 10:11 Report Abuse

coineineagh The Beijing bombing last year was claimed by China to be an East-Turkistan terror attack. But to this day, Wikipedia has not added it to their page about the terror group: Let's face facts: Terror attacks do not gather public sympathy for the terrorists' cause - they validate the GOVERNMENT's cause. Perhaps 9/11 was an American excuse to start 2 wars. Perhaps this attack was orchestrated by CHINA to justify crackdowns on Uighur minorities... we don't know for sure.

Mar 08, 2014 08:38 Report Abuse


It does happen in China and as it is with everything, never trust what you are told by untrustworthy and corrupt people who denounced the latest UN human rights report on North Korea and still willing to support Russia over its meddling in another nation which makes China's stance hypocritical but the simplest answer is usually more likely... Either way, hope the attacks and killings in the rest of China go back to the obvious target, which is government officials and buildings only, that way it would be hard to call it terrorism anymore because it is targeting those in employ of the government and not terrifying plebeians.

Mar 08, 2014 09:31 Report Abuse


What a pointless article!! Tens of innocent people murdered and someone is playing word games with it. And just so this is accurate - CNN did call this a terror attack

Mar 08, 2014 08:14 Report Abuse


China cares way too much about what the US says and thinks. This is just silly, and it's detracting from the real story.

Mar 08, 2014 01:36 Report Abuse


stop repressing groups in a country and stop cultural and genetic genocide, then we can talk about what it really is... That is the main difference. Deal with it because it looks like some want their land back

Mar 08, 2014 00:56 Report Abuse


9/11 happened because the terrorists want Western interests (which back the current rulers) out of their country so that they can have the religious government that they want. How is that any different?

Mar 08, 2014 09:36 Report Abuse


Yes the US should not be mixed up in the middle east and they inherited it after ww2 after the british and french empires were totally ended... China invaded what Chinese call Xinxing and these people call East turkistan. The main difference is that the US, although in these other places, are not in direct control and nor are they flooding the area with Americans. The US is slowing pulling out of some places and self rule is taking its place. Is China going to leave and allow the Uighurs to rule and control their own lands? How much longer are the millions of Han Chinese going to be deployed? Are they going to ever leave? Did China ever think to ask the locals and did they or will they ever compensate the original people? It isn't the only place in harmony China like this but you know, it is all just terrorism and meddling of outsiders now.

Mar 08, 2014 14:21 Report Abuse