The US embassy in China said on social media that it condemned the “terrible and senseless act of violence in Kunming” and expressed condolences to those affected in what it said was a “tragedy”.
The attack on Saturday night saw masked assailants stab civilians at a train station, killing 29 and wounding more than 130.
China has blamed separatists from the restive region of Xinjiang for what it described as an act of terror, with state media dubbing the incident “China’s 9/11”.
But thousands of Chinese Internet users slammed the US for refusing to follow China in defining the attack as terrorism, comparing the knifings to last year’s bombing of the Boston Marathon as well as 9/11. “Merely ‘terrible and senseless’? Only ‘violence’? Would Americans say the same thing about similar attacks on their own territory?” Ma Xiaolin, a website administrator, asked on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “If you say that the Kunming attack is a ‘terrible and senseless act of violence’, then the 9/11 attack can be called a ‘regrettable traffic incident’,” posted Cao Fan.
In typical mocking response, another user wrote: “I express my condolences for the setting off of fireworks and burning incident at the Boston Marathon.”
The US statement came after the UN Security Council condemned the killings and said that it “underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of this terrorist attack to justice”.
It added: “Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation.”