China honours woman who died saving Japanese family

A Chinese woman who tried to shield a Japanese mother and her child from a knife attack has died.

Hu Youping was working as a school bus attendant in Suzhou city when a man attacked a Japanese woman and her child at a bus stop outside a Japanese school.

She suffered serious injuries while trying to restrain him.

Tributes for her have poured out online and the local government has said she will be given the title of “Righteous and Courageous Role Model”.

The Japanese embassy in China also lowered its flag to half-mast to honour Ms Hu. In a statement on Weibo, the embassy said it was “saddened” to hear of her death.

“We believe [Ms Hu’s] courage and kindness also represent that of the Chinese people. We pay tribute to her righteous deeds. May she rest in peace,” it said.

There was also an outpouring of condolences and praise on Chinese social media.

“We will remember your kindness and bravery, for you protected the safety of our Japanese friends and preserved the reputation of ordinary Chinese people,” read a comment on Weibo.

Another described Ms Hu as an “ordinary, virtuous, courageous Chinese sister”.

The mother and son were hurt in Monday’s attack but their injuries were not life-threatening. The suspect, a 52-year-old Chinese man, was arrested at the scene.

It followed another stabbing earlier this month, which injured four US university instructors at a park in Jilin, in China’s north-east.

Chinese officials had said the two attacks were “isolated” incidents.

Chinese state newspaper Global Times ran an editorial on Friday paying tribute to Ms Hu, where it also claimed that “China is undoubtedly still one of the safest countries in the world”.

Separately, the newspaper reported that Weibo had removed 759 posts that “incited nationalist sentiment” following the attack. These posts contained “extreme opinions” that “promoted group hatred and even applauded criminal behaviour in the name of patriotism”.

The stabbing in Suzhou sparked concern among the local Japanese community and led the embassy to issue a safety alert warning its citizens living in China to take precautions while they are out.

China’s foreign ministry said the incident was “regrettable” and that it will “continue to take effective measures to earnestly protect the safety of all foreigners in China”.

China has seen a spate of knife attacks in the past year.

In May, two people were killed and 10 others injured in such an attack at a primary school in the southern Jiangxi province. Another stabbing that same month saw two dead and 21 wounded at a hospital in Yunnan.

In July last year, six people, including three children, were killed in a stabbing at a kindergarten in the south-eastern province of Guangdong. – BBC

By Kelly Ng

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