Georgia attacks to address muted response in Asia

HONG KONG – When it was confirmed that six of the eight victims of the shooting this week were at spas in Atlanta-area of ​​Asian descent, the news opened rhetorical debates in the United States on anti-Asian violence, disorder and misogyny.

In East Asia itself, public conversations about the violence took place with much less intensity.

The South Korean consulate in Atlanta said four of the people who died in the attacks on three massage parlors on Tuesday were of Korean descent. The other two were of Asian descent, presumably of Chinese descent.

In both countries, with a low number of violent crimes and strict gun bans, the killings were shocking, but not surprising, given the frequent reports of gun violence and racially motivated crimes in the United States.

In South Korea, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday that the government is paying close attention to the situation in Georgia, “with a strong interest in the security of South Koreans living abroad.”

South Korean broadcasters also presented segments of their correspondents in the United States, describing how Koreans in the Atlanta area were concerned about their safety. And some earlier announcement of the victims was reported by Korean media.

On social media, some users in South Korea have expressed concern about friends or family members in the United States. Others tagged posts with the hashtag #stopAsianHate.

“I am deeply saddened by the events that took place two days ago in Atlanta, Georgia,” Choi Si-won, a member of the popular K-pop group Super Junior, wrote on Instagram. “I certainly do not have all the answers, but I would like to use my platform and emphasize that this is an issue that needs attention now and that it will do us no good to ignore it.”

Other South Korean users have backed down from comments from a law enforcement official in Georgia, who said after the attacks – using the gunman’s own words – that the man’s actions were “not racially motivated, but that by” sexual addiction ‘was caused.

“The police do not explain the outcome of the investigation, but play a role as spokesperson for the suspect,” columnist Oh Byung-sang wrote in the newspaper JoongAng Ilbo. The headline of the article was “Atlanta shooting = racial discrimination + misogyny.”

In China, a State Department spokesman on Thursday condemned the apparent increase in anti-Asian hate incidents and accused ‘some politicians in the last US government and a number of anti-China forces in the US’ of racism and hatred with anti-China. rhetoric.

“The US side must take concrete steps to address its own problems of racism and discrimination and ensure the security and legal rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the US,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. .

On Chinese social media platforms, some users have said the attacks in Georgia are not surprising in light of years of discrimination against Asian Americans in the United States.

“Asians around the world need to unite, stand up, take care of others’ affairs and speak for one another,” wrote Mia Kong, a Chinese fashion blogger.

Yet the attacks in Georgia did not cause a huge outpouring of chats on local social media platforms in any country. In China, users on the Twitter-like platform Chinese Weibo were generally more interested in a virus video of an elderly woman of Asian descent in San Francisco who beat a man who tried to attack her.

Some people in South Korea, China and elsewhere in Asia are probably less likely to take the deaths of Georgia victims seriously due to stigmas associated with massage parlors, said Madeline Y. Hsu, a professor of Asian -American history at the University of Texas, said. by Austin.

“If these women did not work in massage parlors and if there was clearer identification of them, perhaps there would be more shouting, a feeling that ‘we have to talk, because this is clearly an assault on our people and our country,’ “Professor Hsu said.

The degree of outrage in Asia over the plight of Asian Americans – a shifting category of people representing at least 20 nationalities – often depends on a complex web of local factors.

Stories about gun violence and racially motivated hate crimes in America often go viral in China, in part because the country’s state-run media likes to highlight dysfunctional aspects of American society. So too reports of the murder of Chinese students in the US, where many Chinese families are still striving to send their children to be educated.

But there is little public discussion in Asia about concepts that often dominate conversations about race in the United States, including cultural appropriation and unconscious prejudice.

Hu Zhaoying, a university student in the southern Chinese province of Hunan, said the general lack of empathy for the victims of Atlanta in China is not surprising.

‘Some people do not know of such incidents; some people choose to ignore them after seeing them; and some people can not empathize, ”she said.

Mike Ives reports from Hong Kong and Amy Qin from Taipei. Youmi Kim contributed reporting from Seoul, and Claire Fu contributed research from Beijing.

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