Does Death Toll Alone Determine Global Response?

At Global Voices Online, John Kennedy translates a Chinese-language blog post called “Waiting for Bush to Reciprocate” (等着布什的回礼) The idea is that 33 people die on a pretty regular basis in China, and President Bush doesn’t always send his condolence straight away.

In America, everybody lowers the flag to half-mast for a week, and Mrs. Bush visited the campus where the slayings took place to express condolences in person. If our nation dealt with things this way, I imagine there wouldn’t be many days when the flag in Tiananmen Square would ever rise to the top of the flagpole, and our national leaders wouldn’t ever have much time to leave the country for visits. After these two disasters took place in our country, except for their relatives, how many people expressed sorrow for them? Yet the American government has turned the slayings into national mourning.

The ensuing argument seems to ask the United States to be more personable—that is to say, less statist. The implication is that if the Chinese government doesn’t respond as massively as the U.S. government might for a similar death toll, people should appeal to see how the communities affected are dealing with it. And if the “poor” people are mourning in earnest with little attention from the “rich,” the writer would have the United States show solidarity with the mourners.

If an exceptionally poor family approaches the bereavement of its family members with earnest, people from all corners of the land will come show their respects. To not go would be disrespectful.

I just wonder if this is actually true.

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