A recent incident in which a Chinese exchange student made an rude gesture at a speaker who addressed the Chinese students at National Chenchi University’s (NCCU) student orientation as “overseas students from China (中國的留學生)” has prompted heated discussion online and among university staff and students.
Along with several other Chinese exchange students, the student in question reportedly complained to the university after the moderator at last month’s student orientation greeted them by saying: “We welcome the overseas students from China to Taiwan.”
The Chinese students said it was “inappropriate” to address them that way at a public event, demanding to know why they were not addressed as either “students from the mainland (陸生)” or “friends from the interior (內地來的朋友).”
They also demanded an apology from the Taiwanese students who attended the orientation.
NCCU professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) said on Facebook yesterday that if the university’s student affairs office does not act on the incident soon, he would submit a request to the school’s administrative committee, of which he is a member, to urge that a thorough review be conducted to determine whether the Chinese student who made the insulting gesture had violated school policies.
Calling the act “unacceptable,” he condemned the heckler for not having uttered a word of apology since the incident, while also calling on the university and the Ministry of Education to declare whether they think it inappropriate for Chinese exchange students to be addressed in this way.
Hsu condemned the group of students for what he called their egocentric attitudes, saying that they have come to Taiwan to acquire knowledge and, as guests, should not be so arrogant.
The student’s offensive gesture is both insulting and provocative to the local students who see Taiwan as a country, he added.
Hsu responded to the group’s displeasure at the way they were addressed by saying: “‘Overseas students from China’ is the only term used in all my classes when referring to Chinese exchange students. Those who deplore this term are advised not to sign up for any of my courses.”
National Taipei University professor Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全) said he feels that the group of Chinese students came to Taiwan with a sense of superiority, which manifested in their rude reactions to a phrase he said helps people cultivate a broader world view.
Liao called on the Chinese students to leave their emotional baggage behind and pay homage to a democratic and civil society.
Netizens have chimed in on the incident on the Professional Technology Temple (PTT) — the nation’s largest academic online bulletin board — with comments such as: “‘Mainland’” is not a country I have ever heard of” and “Don’t create confrontations on campus.”
According to NCCU Department of Land Economics student Chu Wei-jung (朱威融), Chinese exchange students who returned to their hometowns after the Occupy Central demonstrations in Hong Kong told him that on arrival, they had been questioned by Chinese authorities to determine if their loyalty for the “homeland” had been compromised.
He said that a number of Chinese students even asked him not to stay in contact due to concerns about their personal safety.
“With the kind of dogma they have been indoctrinated with all their lives, I can understand why they get angry when they hear politically sensitive phrases,” Chu said.
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