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China Cracks Down On Doomsday Rumors; Link Seen To Friday Attack

More than 90 people have been detained in China, where authorities are cracking down on members of a Christian cult and others for spreading rumors about Dec. 21, a " doomsday date" mentioned in the Mayan calendar.

"They include 37 members of the Christian "Almighty God" cult in northwest China's Qinghai Province," the Xinhua state news agency reports. "These cult members recently latched on to the Mayan doomsday scenario to predict the sun will not shine and electricity will not work for three days beginning on December 21," reports Xinhua, citing a security official.

The Almighty God group has also sought to end the influence of the Communist Party in China.

It may seem like more time has passed than just three days, but an elementary school in China was also the scene of a senseless and violent attack Friday, hours before a gunman in the U.S. attacked a school.

Mark posted about the Chinese attack, which took place in a village about 500 miles south of Beijing early Friday — shortly before news of the deadly attack in Newtown, Conn., spread.

Armed with a kitchen knife, the attacker in Henan province reportedly wounded 22 children and 1 adult. Xinhua reports that the suspected attacker, now arrested, was "strongly psychologically affected by rumors of the upcoming end of the world predicted by ancient prophecy."

The victims of the Chinese attack are said to have suffered non-life-threatening injuries — many of them to their hands and ears. But the case has also sparked anger from Chinese citizens who say their state-run news media provided far more coverage of the U.S. attacks in Newtown than of the assault in Henan province.

As Benjamin Carlson writes at Global Post, many Chinese turned to social media to vent their frustration:

"'Yesterday, I watched an entire day's worth of CCTV4 news. I watched how America is in chaos and an abyss of suffering, with guns spreading unchecked, and had no idea whatsoever about the extremely tragic crime in Henan!,' wrote one user on Weibo, in a translation by ChinaSmack."

Others who commented on the disparity noted that President Obama visited Newtown and showed both emotion and respect for the dead — something they say China's leaders have not done.

Carlson notes another disparity: views on the right to own guns.

"Perhaps most surprising of all," he writes, "while many Americans begin to demand better gun-control laws following several bloody massacres, some Chinese continue to look at US gun rights with envy."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.