Hysteria

Syringe Stab Panic Hits Beijing

The idea of a stranger plunging a syringe filled with god-knows-what into their flesh has panicked many Chinese. The attacks began in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, where ethnic violence between Han Chinese and Uighurs killed 200 people in July. Officials say that more than 600 people in Urumqi have reported being stabbed, although many incidents turned out to be mosquito bites, and more than 40 people have been detained in connection with the attacks. However, the attacks in Xinjiang spread outward from Urumqi, and they may have reached Beijing, where security is tight in anticipation of October 1's celebration of 60 years of Communist Party rule. Officials have ordered Web sites to delete discussions and mentions of syringe stabbings in Beijing. In China's restrictive media culture, where propaganda authorities monitor content, the Internet has become an important source of breaking news.