The “China’s reaction to Bin Laden” story has been covered from a million angles already. But none of them (that I have seen) have included any statistics which is why this poll is so interesting.
Obligatory disclaimer: Yes, this is an informal internet poll with inherent biases and probably with security lax enough for hackers to compromise the system and influence the outcome, if they wanted to do that, so any analysis of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve also rounded all the numbers because they’ll have changed by the time this post goes up anyway.
What is your opinion of the American military killing Osama Bin Laden?
- Happy, the terrorist leader has finally been killed. 18%, 87,700 votes.
- Sad, an anti-American warrior has fallen. 60%, 287,600 votes.
- Sigh, after ten long years America has finally gotten revenge. 12%, 58,600 votes.
- No opinion, it doesn’t really matter to me whether he’s dead or not. 10%, 46,100 votes.
What’s your appraisal of Osama Bin Laden?
- He was the number one terrorist and a threat to world peace. 18%, 89,300 votes.
- He was an anti-American warrior, but his killing of innocent people is unacceptable. 58%, 276,700 votes.
- He was a crazy religious fundamentalist whose break with the traditional islamic world has made him a legend. 15% 73,300 votes.
- Not sure. 8%, 40,000 votes.
Do you think Bin Laden’s death will have a positive effect in combating terrorism?
- Yes, this is a victory in the war against terror, and it will help restrain future terrorist activities. 17%, 80,000 votes.
- Yes, the forces of Islamic extremism will decline and the age of terrorism will pass. 2%, 11,000 votes.
- No, Bin Laden was no longer an important player, and his death will not influence terrorism one way or the other. 25%, 118,000 votes.
- No, more extremist forces will undertake terrorist actions [because of his death] and terrorism will get worse and worse. 48%, 229,000 votes.
- Not sure. 8%, 40,000 votes.
It’s interesting that a majority of those who responded to this poll are upset that Bin Laden is dead, but at the same time, a majority also felt that his tactics were unacceptable despite his apparently-favorable anti-American attitude. This link came to me via Zhang Wen’s blog, where Zhang Wen mentions that this may be one of the reasons it took the Chinese government so long to comment on the news of Bin Laden’s death. Obviously, the government itself has no love for bin Laden or terrorism in general, but apparently they need to tread lightly around a populace that is surprisingly — I feel, anyway — supportive of bin Laden.
Then again, it may just be the latest wind of anti-Americanism. Just last week in my day job trolling the wastelands of Sina’s trending topics, I noticed that there were plenty of Chinese netizens gloating about the deadly tornadoes that killed over 200 in the American south. The general sentiment seemed to be that Americans deserved it for their support of the wars that were killing innocent people in other countries. Interesting, indeed.
UPDATE: Sina Weibo is currently hosting an expert Q&A on Bin Laden’s death. Someone asked the current expert in the hot seat, Ma Xiaolin, his thoughts on the ifeng.com poll and the fact that 60% of respondents were sad about Bin Laden’s death. His answer:
“Netizens only represent a part of overall public opinion. [This issue] has become very emotional, so [the poll] doesn’t necessarily represent people’s conclusions after rational consideration [of the issue].”