With Chinese netizens continuing to fume over a highly-controversial speech made on Sunday by a University of Maryland graduate, China’s Foreign Ministry has waded into the fray.
At a regular press briefing in Beijing yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was asked about the commencement speech of Shuping Yang, in which she infamously praised the “fresh air” and “freedom” of the United States in contrast to her own home country.
“I would like to say that any Chinese citizen should be responsible for the remarks he or she makes,” Lu replied before continuing with his thoughts on Chinese students going abroad to study:
I think many netizens believe that every country has what it takes pride in, while it may also encounter some problems in its course of development. When a citizen makes remarks on his or her own country, regardless of the occasion and the way, others can easily sense the feelings he or she shows towards the motherland.
I also notice that the above-mentioned student has made a statement or, so to speak, an apology later on. She said that she loved her motherland and wished to come back to make contribution to it after graduation. If this is true, I should say that, many young Chinese students are now studying overseas, whose views and perceptions of some things may change and evolve after going abroad. But as long as they love their country deep down their heart and stands ready to contribute to it, I believe the Chinese government will encourage, support and welcome them.
Though Yang has apologized, it’s not clear if she will be welcomed back by her compatriots. This week, she has been denounced by tens of thousands of outraged Chinese netizens who have called her a liar and worse.
Chinese web users were particularly incensed by Yang’s comments about fresh air after discovering that she grew up in Kunming, one of China’s least polluted cities. Yesterday, China’s official Xinhua news agency even tasked two reporters with live-streaming from the Yunnan capital, asking residents if they ever had to wear face masks as Yang had claimed that she had to do every day to avoid getting sick.
Meanwhile, China’s nationalistic tabloid, the Global Times, has published an English-language op-ed criticizing Yang, while also taking some shots at the US and some overseas students.
“Yang caused public uproar as she disregarded facts at a high profile event,” the editorial reads. “Subtly, many people have bowed to political correctness consciously. For example, there are Chinese students who deliberately portrayed themselves as victims of human rights violation in China to boost their chance of being accepted by American college.”
The piece also includes this image:
[Images via Global Times]
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