Chinese police said Monday that the man who stabbed 23 children in a rural Chinese elementary school just hours before the Newtown, Conn., massacre may have been "influenced" by doomsday predictions.
A belief that the Mayan calendar predicts an apocalypse this Friday, Dec. 21, has gained peculiar currency here. And the knifing spree is the darkest manifestation yet of how end-of-the-world rumors have taken hold in China.
Doomsday rumors, generally lighthearted spoofs, have been especially widespread on the Chinese Internet since the success of the Hollywood blockbuster "2012." That was the first major American film to portray the Chinese as "good guys," builders of "arks" that offer salvation to some survivors of a cataclysmic flood. But Chinese authorities, nervous about threats to social stability, have been showing increasing signs of concern about the public's willingness to believe the rumors.