2008 Beijing Drum Tower stabbings
On August 9, 2008 in Beijing, People's Republic of
China, two American tourists and their Chinese tour guide were stabbed
at the historic Drum Tower; one of the tourists was killed. The
assailant then committed suicide by jumping from the tower.
The incident occurred during the 2008 Summer
Olympics in Beijing. The incident has been described as isolated since
attacks on foreigners while visiting China are rare.
Events and victims
Three people were stabbed in Beijing, China, on
August 9, 2008, by 47-year-old Tang Yongming of Hangzhou, while
visiting the 13th-century Drum Tower in Beijing during the 2008 Summer
The victims were Todd Bachman, a prominent
horticulturalist from Lakeville, Minnesota, his wife Barbara, and
their female Chinese national tour guide. Todd Bachman, who died in
the attack, was the father of American athlete Elisabeth Bachman and
the father-in-law of Team USA men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon.
Barbara Bachman was severely wounded but survived the attack. The
attacker then leaped to his death from a 40-metre (130 ft) high
balcony on the Drum Tower. US Olympic Committee Chairman Peter
Ueberroth and US President George W. Bush both offered their
Tang Yongming spent most of his life in the
outskirts of Hangzhou, and was a metal presser at the Hangzhou Meter
Factory for more than twenty years. He had no previous criminal
record, according to investigators. Investigators reported that Tang
was distraught over family problems.
A colleague who knew Tang said that he had "an
unyielding mouth", "grumbled a great deal", and was "very cynical".
Another former co-worker said Tang 'had a quick temper and was always
complaining about society". Police report that Tang went through his
second divorce in 2006 and grew increasingly despondent when his
21-year-old son started getting into trouble. The son was detained in
May 2007 on suspicion of fraud, then received a suspended prison
sentence in March 2008 for theft.
A Stabbing Rooted in Loss and Despair
By Andrew Jacobs - The New York Times
August 10, 2008
BEIJING — Tang Yongming was like countless other
middle-aged, marginally skilled men struggling to find their way in
the new China. Laid off from a meter factory in the central city of
Hangzhou, Mr. Tang, 47, found himself idle, broke and living alone in
a rented room with no furniture and no future.
Friends and former co-workers said he had become
angry and unmoored as he watched China’s surging economy roar ahead
But even though Mr. Tang had moments of despair and
frustration, those who knew him were at a loss to explain why he
attacked a couple of American tourists and their Chinese guide on
Saturday, fatally stabbing a 62-year-old man and slashing the others
before leaping to his death from the balcony of the Drum Tower, one of
Beijing’s best-known historic monuments.
Todd Bachman, a Minnesota businessman whose
son-in-law coaches the men’s volleyball team, was killed. His wife,
Barbara, 62, was critically wounded, as was the guide, whose name has
not been released.
The attack, on the first day of the Olympic Games,
punctured the feel-good bubble that had enveloped Beijing since the
opening ceremonies on Friday night. Although the episode received
modest coverage in the Chinese media, it has been widely discussed
among local residents and foreign visitors, many of whom said they
were stunned that such an act of brutality could have occurred amid
the city’s thick blanket of security.
President Hu Jintao, meeting Sunday with President
Bush, expressed condolences to the victims and their families and said
the police would fully investigate. “The Chinese side takes this
unfortunate incident very seriously,” he said.
The killing has provoked hand-wringing and debate
on the Internet. Some people fretted that it could tarnish China’s
moment of Olympic glory, while others used Mr. Tang’s murderous
outburst to rail against a variety of unattended social ills: mental
illness, chronic unemployment among laid-off state workers and the
rise of xenophobic nationalism.
One widely circulated posting, written anonymously
on a popular Web site, seemed to capture the prevailing worry that Mr.
Tang’s crime would harm China’s image: “Your actions have hurt not
just two Americans, but they have hurt the way Americans will view
China during the Games, the way all the people of the world will view
China. The bright dream of these momentous Olympics has been darkened
Much of the debate and the supposition about his
motives have been swirling in a vacuum of substantial information. Mr.
Tang was unemployed and arrived in Beijing on Aug. 1 for reasons that
remain unclear. The only thing he left behind, investigators said, was
the government-issued identification card in his pocket.
The Chinese police have painted him as a man turned
desperate by personal shortcomings. “He had lost all hope after a
series of failures in his life and took his anger out on society,” the
police said, according to Xinhua, the state news agency.
Mr. Tang had no criminal record, investigators
said, nor was he among the crowds of aggrieved citizens, so-called
petitioners, who flock to the capital to file official appeals to the
On the outskirts of Hangzhou, where Mr. Tang spent
most of his life, neighbors and former co-workers said he was often
disgruntled and prone to argument. “He grumbled a great deal, very
cynical,” Zhang Liping, a former colleague, said. “He had an
They agreed that Mr. Tang typified the many working
men cast aside by ailing state-run industries. He was angry at being
left behind by China’s headlong rush into an economy that lacked the
succors of the Socialist past. “He had a quick temper and was always
complaining about society,” said a former co-worker, who would only
give his nickname, Aqing.
Mr. Tang worked as a metal presser at the Hangzhou
Meter Factory for more than two decades. When a private company bought
the plant five or six years ago, his job was transferred elsewhere and
Mr. Tang was demoted to guard at the factory gate. In 2004, colleagues
said, he lost that job for reasons that were not clear.
In 2006, his wife, who also worked at the meter
factory, divorced him. Mr. Tang sold his house and rented a room
nearby in Hengjie, a once-rural town that has become absorbed into
Hangzhou’s industrial sprawl. Xinhua, quoting the police, said Mr.
Tang’s 21-year-old son spent the money from the sale of the home. Last
year the son was arrested for fraud and later received a six-month
sentence for burglary.
Jiang Beigen, his landlord, said Mr. Tang paid $53
a month for an unfurnished room. According to Mr. Jiang and other
tenants, Mr. Tang seemed to own only one shirt and a single pair of
pants, both of which he washed by hand at night. He had no job, they
said, and often slept late into the day.
Last week, Mr. Tang announced he was leaving town.
According to the police, he called his son that evening and told him
he would not be returning until he found success.
Reporting was contributed by Steven Lee Myers, and
research by Dado Derviskadic, Fan Wenxin and Zhan Yingying.
Todd Bachman, 62.