Beijing’s advice on terror attacks: ‘You must not spread the news’

In the past few weeks, China has suffered a number of violent incidents in public spaces, including an attack by knife-wielding assailants in Kunming train station that left 33 dead and a suicide bombing just days ago in the capital city of Xinjiang region, Urumqi, where President Xi Jinping was visiting.

Such attacks, reportedly committed by Muslim extremists and separatists, are being described as terrorist attacks by the state media. On Wednesday, apparently hoping to calm fears, Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (the Chinese capital's police force) took to Weibo to share some advice for citizens in what to do in during attacks on public areas.

Some of the advice, presented in a 10-point listicle, seems sensible. "Immediately report it to the police when you foresee or encounter an emerging violent incidents and cooperate with the police," reads the first point.

But others prompted some raised eyebrows. "You must not spread the news after you experienced it," one point reads. And no one wants a hero: "Many imported movies promote individual heroism, saving the world from danger [and] the warrior culture shown by Chinese TV series and movies also wins universal praise," the fourth point says, "but these plots were designed by professionals after doing research to attract audiences."

Meanwhile, the final point seems to be telling those at the scene of the crime to learn from the experience.

Here's the list in full:

  1. Immediately report it to the police when you foresee or encounter an emerging violent incidents and cooperate with the police. Ask for help from professionals to stop and deal with the incidents that endanger public security.
  2. Unless it's for something important, refrain where there are large flows of people. Those places are easy targets for all kinds of incidents. Therefore, you should avoid going to those places.
  3. Refrain from going to places where people gather. Those places will be subject to the most harm from violent incidents in public places. The plan to harm the public there are usually quite professional and more ruthless.
  4. Be ready to help others for a just cause but do it within your own capabilities. Many imported movies promote individual heroism, saving the world from danger [and] the warrior culture shown on Chinese TV series and movies also wins universal praise. But these plots were designed by professionals after doing research to attract audiences. In real life, our lives seem so weak in face of machinery and technology. Bravery ensuing from wisdom is always more powerful than bravery with your body.
  5. Don't crowd around and watch when an emergency happens. The habit of following the crowds and watching the scene of bustle that we have formed over many years is really bad. Once there is an emergency, keep away from it.
  6. If you are where the violence is taking place and can’t avoid it, you should find large objects to hide yourself and take a prone position. If there is explosion or a release of toxic gas, you can reduce its harm to you by getting as low as possible.
  7. Don’t anger the perpetrator of violence.
  8. Don’t be scared and try your best to keep calm. Observe the situation at the scene and be prepared to cooperate with the police, save yourself and save others. Once the scene is under control or the time is ripe, leave quickly and keep away from the scene.
  9. You must not spread the news after you experienced it. This kind of experience is not glorious, so you must not publicize it or show off. If you publicize it or show off, it might bring yourself even greater trouble and harm.
  10. Build confidence and be a strong person in life. As the saying goes, “a sharp sword comes from the sharpening” Everyone gets mature and grows up from repeated fall and blows.

On Weibo, some users responded with snark (“I will carry sticks in my car and hide knives in my bag, and then I’ll be more confident," wrote one) while others were confused (“I don’t understand no. 9. Does it mean that you can’t publish any pics or tweets but accept everything quietly?”).

Meanwhile, one user created his own parodist version of the list.

  1. Foresee (the incidents). Do the fortune-telling before going out.
  2. Don’t cram yourself in subways or buses going to work and back home.
  3. Don’t go to prosperous business areas.
  4. Learn how to play dead.
  5. Run as far as possible.
  6. Carry all kinds of protection gears with you when out (for example: body armor, gas masks).
  7. Turn deaf, dumb or paralyzed.
  8. Trust the party, trust the government and the police will clear up the messy situation afterwards [literal translation: ‘wipe ass afterwards’].
  9. Don’t publish tweets or retweet, everything should based on the 7pm news on CCTV. Even if they are lies.
  10. Migrate abroad and be a strong person in life.

Halli Gu contributed reporting from Beijing.

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.
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