By accident I noticed the article ‘Companies in China.’ As a Chinese international student at Imperial, the wording in this article is an insult, not only to me personally, but also to the whole Chinese community and our country. Imperial College should be a place where students from all over the world, including China, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan which are by all means parts that cannot be separated from China. Students can come to study, progress, and live peacefully together. However, Mr. Titmuss published this article which is clearly about politics, a topic that is not encouraged at Imperial, without any perceivable attempt to seek the truth. Instead, he has written an article that is biased, flawed, arrogant, humiliating, and irresponsible. This should not be tolerated under any circumstances.
First of all, as Mr. Titmuss seems to be an advocator of freedom of speech, I would first like to ask a question here, not only to Mr. Titmuss, but also to all those who are now believe that mainland China is a so-called “oppressive” regime according to Western interpretations. Here is the question: Do you know that THE EXERCISE OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH CARRIES SPECIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES? It is clearly stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Furthermore, it is subject to certain restrictions “for the rights or reputation of others” and “the protection of national security or of public order.” Mr. Titmuss successfully practiced his freedom of speech and I don’t have a problem with it, but his insult at the end of the article to the leader of our country, and flawed reference to China as “oppressive,” is unacceptable, as it harms the reputation of our country. Therefore, I hope an apology can be made by Mr. Titmuss in public to all Chinese students at Imperial and to our nation.
As a visitor here, I feel generally pleased because Imperial has a culturally inclusive atmosphere. I would like to talk about my own experience. The first night I arrived at my hall of residence, we had a floor dinner. One of my floor-mates from the UK asked about the situation in Hong Kong. My answer was that mainlanders and Hong Kong students may hold different opinions. A Hong Kong student agreed and said we should not talk about it. While this was not the best situation as we didn’t fully exchange our ideas, it was at least not the worst where an argument may have occurred. I personally respect the attempts of a few rational Hong Kong locals to call for freedom peacefully. However, what has happened in Hong Kong recently is far from peaceful. From vandalism by painting and smashing windows of government buildings protesters have moved to attacking police officers using iron pipes, molotovs, and even petroleum bombs. I have the sense that western media like the BBC, CNN report events selectively, as they had always done, to picture China as “oppressive” which is not true. They show their audience police reacting using arms without telling you how violent the protests were. While Western countries claim that they have freedom of the press which “China does not have,” I always find this statement ridiculous and sad. The fact is that people outside mainland China, even those in Hong Kong, have long been deceived by the distorted facts intentionally reported by the media. I suppose Mr. Titmuss is not aware of that, therefore I think his article is irresponsible, and is not part of properly practicing the freedom of speech.
Being in the UK for nearly a month, I used YouTube a lot to watch videos about China from a western perspective. I found that people outside China had a lot of misunderstandings and stereotypes about China. Here I will list some that are prevailing:
China wants to rule the world or East Asia China is ruled by a communist party so it is bad One-party autocracy must be evil, especially when it is a communist party China uses its economic power to pursue political aims China has strong censorship so it does not have freedom of speech Western values/ethics are universal
Let me clarify the first misunderstanding by my own personal thoughts which might be a little exaggerated. Unless all humans except Chinese nationals died out, China would not seek any form of global or regional hegemony. Please do not take that seriously, but more authoritative comments have been given by those who have a say on this again and again, including Kishore Mahbubani who was the former president of the United Nations Security Council and former ambassador to the UN from Singapore.
The second one and third one come from a Western prejudice because most Western countries have “democratic multi-party systems,” and they have long wanted to impose this system on China. As a Chinese national, I admit that the Chinese Communist Party has its problems, but I still believe it is the best party to make China prosperous, which is the will of all Chinese. We don’t want any form of foreign-imposed values and systems because that brings back the memory of the humiliating history of the 19th and 20th century. We don’t export our communist ideology, and at the same time, we don’t want any foreign party to export their ideas and values to us by force. We have our own way, and we need mutual respect. As a guest here, I respectfully point out that your “democratic multi-party system” is more problematic than a “not democratic one-party autocracy” and will not do any good to China, so please just focus on your own countries and stop telling China what you want us to do.
The fourth one is true to some extent, but what China did has nothing to do with threatening foreign companies in China. It is agreed around the globe that a corporation should obey the local laws in order to be able to do the business, and there is no exception in China. In China, it is illegal to spread ideas containing separatism, hate, racism and terrorism online. I believe it should have counterparts in British and American legal system (otherwise it means the “oppressive” Chinese legal system is actually better). The Blizzard occurrence happened because it is found that some Hong Kong protesters spread illegal content mentioned above in games, so by law Chinese government asked Blizzard to censor the chats in games. If Blizzard were to allow those contents, the Chinese government have to right to stop its services in China. So again, I would like to emphasize that this is not about the problem of freedom of speech, because duties and responsibilities are not separable. By this I think the fifth misunderstanding is also clarified.
The sixth point is the most prevailing of all. To make it simple, I would say that the statement is wrong. We Chinese have a different culture, which contains different values. Personally, one difference that I think could be used to explain most of other differences is that Chinese believe in collectivism and solidarity whereas western culture emphasizes individualism. In short, the difference is so large and Western people should accept the fact that your values and ethics does not prevail over others’. We Chinese have our own history and we are proud of it. We don’t want to prove our superiority and we don’t even think our culture has it. All cultures are equal, so please try to learn about it before you want to comment on, especially criticize it.
Lastly, I would take the advantage of this event to promote the communication between the Chinese community at Imperial and others. It is impossible to be aware of the globe without being aware of China with a population of 1.4 billion and a unique culture from that of the West. I wish all those who are interested in what China really looks like can start to learn about China without prejudice. A book I would recommend is On China by Henry Kissinger, the former United States Secretary of State. The book might be boring, but as a Chinese national, I found the content very objective and especially sharp on his analysis about how the Chinese think and how is it influenced by the Chinese history. There is also a YouTuber Nathan Rich who uploaded several videos about China that you wouldn’t know from Western media reports. It will probably be a mind-changing process, and I am willing to provide help to any friends from any cultural background if possible. I hope this initiative can boost the communication between all ethnic groups at Imperial.