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Blogging Beijing

The 2008 Summer Olympics will punctuate three decades of development and test China's global legitimacy. They've already transformed the way millions of people think and live. Seattleite and Fulbright researcher Daniel Beekman brings you Beijing.

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August 10, 2008 5:05 AM

Drum Tower tragedy

Posted by Daniel Beekman

A Minnesota couple - parents of 2004 volleyball Olympian Elisabeth Bachman and in-laws of U.S. men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon - was attacked by a knife-wielding Chinese man while touring Beijing's 13th-century Drum Tower yesterday.

Todd Bachman was killed. His wife, Barbara, sustained stab wounds and was rushed into surgery. This morning in Beijing, the U.S. Olympic Committee reported her condition as critical but stable. The couple's Chinese guide was also hospitalized.

The attacker, Tang Yongming, took his own life - leaping off a 130-foot high balcony on the Drum Tower. According to U.S. officials in Beijing, Interpol and Chinese authorities, the stabbing was an 'act of senseless violence,' rather than a terrorist attack related to the 2008 Games.

"At the Drum Tower? What happened?" a Beijing breakfast cook asked Saturday. "Was it terrorist attack? If not, it shouldn't affect Sino-U.S. relations."

"Yeah, I read about the incident online last night," said a young Olympic volunteer and subway attendant. "It's really sad. The guy jumped afterwards, right?

"Every city that hosts the Games is vulnerable to these kind of happenings. Our country's police are working hard, but they can only protect most people. They can't protect every single person all the time."

An instant headline in America, the Drum Tower deaths have received little media attention thus far in Beijing.

"I don't think there was anything about it in yesterday's Wanbao ('Evening News')," a street-side drink-seller said Saturday morning. "I don't know why."

"No, no, no," an elderly woman wearing the red ribbon of Beijing's Olympic neighborhood guards on her sleeve responded. "I don't know what you're talking about."

This morning's Xinjingbao ('Beijing News') ran a short brief on Page A15 with the headline "Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses concern for attacked American tourists."

"I haven't heard anything - I didn't watch television last night," said a Chinese man strolling through Beijing's Olympic green.

"Nobody wishes for this sort of thing, especially all of us in China," a Beijing college student and Olympic volunteer remarked Saturday. "Although security is tight these days, preventing this sort of thing is impossible."

Beijing News brief on Drum Tower attacks (upper right).

Foreign fans seek tickets Saturday morning near Beijing's 2008 Olympic Green.

Front page of Saturday's Beijing News - China's first 2008 gold medalist.

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