Chinese Student Blasted for Commencement Speech | China Uncensored

November 30, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs

On this episode of China Uncensored, the pettiest fight you’ll see on the internet all day. And that’s saying something. Hi, welcome to China Uncensored, I’m your host Chris Chappell. Meet Yang Shuping. She was this year’s student commencement
speaker at the University of Maryland. And it’s no wonder why. When she came to the United States five years ago, she didn’t speak a word of English. She just graduated with a double major in psychology and theater, with a minor in German. And to top it off, she now speaks fluent English. Now you would think, this would be a proud moment for Chinese international students. One of their own, singled out for achievement at an American University. Except, when she had the spotlight, she said some things about the differences between China and the United States that were a little controversial. It involved a student production of a play about the beating of Rodney King and the LA riots of 1992. The student actors were openly talking about racism, sexism, and politics. I was shocked. I never thought such topics could be discussed openly. I have always had a burning desire to tell these kinds of stories, but I was convinced that only authorities owned the narrative. Only authorities could define the Truth. You know, I applaud Ms. Yang for tackling some big topics in her speech. Of course, it’s not quite as good as my own commencement speech. Which was about how as we go on, we remember all the times we had together, and about the importance of wearing sunscreen, and also staying hungry and foolish. It was a pretty great speech. But back to Ms. Yang’s speech. Here was her key point: Freedom is oxygen. Freedom is passion. And then Chinese internet users around the world exploded. And believe me, those were the more polite comments. THEY WERE HARD TO FIND! The speech also went viral on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. The common theme was that she shouldnt come back to China. State-run media had a field day, with article after article accusing her of belittling and degrading China… …and even worse, convicted her of the worst crime imaginable: being deemed unpatriotic by cyber public opinion. Wow. Unpatriotic? That was way harsh, cyber public opinion. This is what China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had to say. Finish her! Sorry, wrong clip. This is what Lu Kang actually said. As long as in the end they still ardently love their motherland, and are willing to make contributions for
her, I believe that the Chinese government will encourage, support and welcome it.” You see, as long as you wholeheartedly love the Chinese Communist Party, and do anything for it, the Communist party will encourage and welcome it. I think that was what he was saying? People always ask me why did you come to the University of Maryland? I always answer: fresh air. The air was so sweet and fresh and utterly luxurious. I was surprised by this. I grew up in a city in China where I had to wear a face mask every time I went outside, otherwise I might get sick. However, the moment I inhaled and exhaled outside the airport, I felt free. What happened? Is attacking someone for a speech on the other side of the world somehow supposed to convince people that China doesn’t have a problem with freedom of speech? For more on this, I’m joined by China Uncensored’s resident Chinese person, Shelley Zhang. Shelley? Hi, Chris. Now Shelley, I know that talking about freedom of speech in China can be a big deal. But Yang Shuping was speaking in America. Why are people so upset? They weren’t complaining about what she said about freedom of speech. They weren’t? They didn’t get mad because she said democracy and freedom are the fresh air worth fighting for? No, they were mad because she mentioned a different kind of fresh air. Hold on. Chinese netizens are upset that she complained about air pollution in China? Yep. Chinese people aren’t seriously denying there’s a pollution problem, right? Well, let’s let state-run CGTN America explain it. Some bashed her for degrading China, while others accused her of telling outright
lies about her hometown Kunming, a city in China’s southwest Yunnan province known for its beautiful scenery and good air. Wow, Chinese state-run television’s use of promotional video really gets across how beautiful Kunming is. So the argument is, yeah, well…pollution isn’t really that bad in that one city. And I guess that if she’s lying about the air quality in Kunming, that proves she’s a lying liar who lies about China in general. And to prove how out of touch Shuping is, the local Chinese Students and Scholars Association got together a group to talk about how much they love China. What did they come up with? This. We are students from University of Maryland. We are proud of China. Nothing says freedom of thought like a group of people reciting a prepared speech that someone else wrote. Well, then there was a video of individual testimonials from Chinese students. Although we know that the US is a very free speaking country, 80% of what Shuping Yang said today were deceptions and lies. And then it goes into a montage of Chinese students talking about how nice their own hometowns are and that they never had to wear facemasks
there. Well, that’s…a good Chinese tourism video, but it doesn’t prove that Yang Shuping was
lying about wearing a facemask. What if she has asthma? Or overprotective parents. And interesting note, although Kunming is today considered one of the best air quality cities in China, five years ago, when Shuping left, it did not meet China’s national air quality standards. But to do an in-depth investigation into whether Kunming has great air, state-run Xinhua News did an hour-long livestream on Twitter where they repeatedly stopped people on the street to ask if they ever wore facemasks. That’s the hard-hitting journalism I expect from Xinhua. But this whole things seems like kind of an overreaction. Well Chris, I do have to say that I understand
where the Chinese students are coming from. Really? Sure. I came from China as a kid. I was the
only Chinese kid in my class. I loved Chinese culture. I wanted Chinese sports teams to
win. I was proud of being Chinese. It was either that or just be hurt everytime kids
made ching chong noises at me. So you’re saying that the Chinese students
were justified. No, I’m saying I understand why they feel
hurt and why they want their Chinese identity to be respected. But then they took that and went so far into left field they can’t even see the ballpark anymore. There’s an obsession with national pride that’s frankly a little unhealthy. Popular phrases like “You’re nothing without your motherland.” So people are mad at her because she was being ungrateful to her motherland? Well, making the motherland look bad. But really, Shuping is not the one making China look bad right now. The extreme reactions from Chinese people are keeping this story in the headlines, and it’s making us look weird. I mean, Chinese netizens publicly bullied this girl into shutting down all of her social media accounts and abjectly apologizing for using an air quality metaphor to talk about her love of individual freedoms. Should we be proud of this? Is the motherland triumphant, now that this one voice has been squashed? This type of nationalistic anger that won’t be satisfied until someone is made an example of is an unfortunate legacy of the Chinese Communist Party. But here’s what Shuping really did wrong. And some of the criticisms of her even say this bluntly. She can feel the way she wants to about freedom and democracy and how great it is to be able to express individual viewpoints. Or even how crappy the air is in Kunming. She just isn’t supposed say it out loud. Publicly. So your opinion is fine as long as you don’t express it. Wait, aren’t you concerned about getting attacked for expressing that publicly? Chris, I fully expect the flamewar in the comments section to burn brighter than the sun. Well, if there’s one piece of advice I could give you, Shelley, it would be: Wear sunscreen. So what do you think about what Shuping Yang said and the reaction? Leave your comments below. Once again, I’m your host, Chris Chappell. See you next time.