Chinese students protest overseas

By Yu jie 余杰  / 

Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - Page 6

While Hong Kong is of course the main battlefield of the anti-extradition bill protests, demonstrations and protests have also taken place in other places around the world.

As the number of Chinese students studying in Taiwan is limited, they dare not flagrantly harass protesters at all the rallies held here in support of the Hong Kong protests.

In countries where there are more Chinese students — such as Canada, Australia, the UK and New Zealand — they have formed the largest assemblies of Chinese students since they gathered to protect the Olympic flame from protesters during the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay.

Ironically, they would never be allowed to hold such patriotic gatherings anywhere inside China.

In Vancouver and Toronto, Chinese students held patriotic rallies against the anti-extradition protests that were jointly organized by the Chinese embassies and consulates.

During these rallies, Chinese students drove around in million-dollar luxury sports cars, many of them red Ferraris, as if they purposefully wanted to sneer at the poverty of those opposed to the bill.

These rallies were, of course, also a showcase for the results of the corrupt practices of the students’ parents back home in China.

Ten years ago, the Wall Street Journal published a story about Bo Guagua (薄瓜瓜), the son of Bo Xilai (薄熙來) — who at the time was a leading Chinese politician — and what his life was like studying in the UK. The story described him, in a rather literary tone, as “driving a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and as red as the Chinese flag,” which it said was dyed by the blood sacrificed by the revolutionaries.

The same story could be rewritten to report the spectacular event put on by the Chinese students in Toronto and Vancouver with their red Ferraris simply by replacing the singular pronoun “he” with the plural “they.”

Just because someone drives a luxury car does not mean that they are refined. Quite the contrary, such people are often vulgar and low-class.

During a rally organized by Hong Kong students at the University of South Australia to show support for the protesters in Hong Kong, Chinese students clad in trendy streetwear brands broke into the crowd of protesters and shouted insults at them using vulgar language.

One video clip that went viral showed a Hong Kong student shouting “Hong Kong, stay strong!” and a group of Chinese students responding, shouting expletives at the top of their lungs. It was a typical Beijing expression, and although I lived in China for 20 years, I have never been able to utter those words.

In the West, there are soccer hooligans, but in China there are patriotic hooligans and overseas student hooligans. These students are no different from the white-clad gang that beat up protesters at Hong Kong’s Yuen Long MTR Station: As long as it is done in the name of patriotism, it makes up for 100 evil deeds.

There are reasons these people love their country. Instead of saying that they love their country, it would be better to say that they love their blood-red Ferraris.

According to an anecdote about Qing Dynasty official Ji Xiaolan (紀曉嵐), Ji once scolded the emperor’s favorite courtier, Heshen (和珅), asking why he, who constantly expressed his love of country, had embezzled so much money from the state treasury. Heshen calmly replied: “How can I not love a country that allows me to embezzle so much money?”

The state-run Global Times newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin (胡錫進), retweeted the video clip with the vulgar reference to the student’s mother’s genitals and left a “neutral” comment: “[T]he event is said to have happened at the University of South Australia; while Hong Kong independence advocates were shouting ‘Hong Kong, stay strong,’ the mainland students retorted by cursing their mothers. I am speechless.”

Is Hu envious of these young people who can cuss at people at will thanks to the freedom of expression they enjoy in the West, while he, working at a Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper, must be “moderate and gentle”?

In the open and allowed comments on Sina Weibo, many posters commended these “patriots.”

For example, one person said: “That’s the most harmonious, most pleasing swearword there is!” while another said: “I have never seen anyone embrace patriotism like that, especially after the 1990s and the 2000s. This is a true model of patriot education.”

It is like the Boxers of the Boxer Rebellion revived, but this is the only freedom of expression these petty and low Internet users will ever enjoy. Many of them belong to China’s “low-end population,” but like to think of themselves and speak as if they belonged to the elite, although this is something they will never achieve. They will never be allowed to sit in one of those red Ferraris, or even touch them.

Yu Jie is an exiled Chinese dissident and writer.

Translated by Chang Ho-ming and Perry Svensson