Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - Page 3 News List

NTNU student targeted by Chinese netizens

By Rachel Lin  /  Staff reporter

A graduate student at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) in Taipei has canceled a plan to attend an exchange program in China after Chinese netizens branded him as a Taiwanese independence advocate.

The student, surnamed Ko (柯), had signed up to become an exchange student at Wuhan University, one of NTNU’s sister schools, in Hubei Province.

Ko yesterday said that he changed his mind after Chinese netizens, citing his social media activity, accused him of promoting Taiwanese independence and secession.

“It is the first year of the Reiwa Era. Greetings. Here’s hoping that the great motherland will one day recover lost Taiwan island and peacefully unite the entire Japan, build the great Reiwa dream,” Ko wrote on Facebook, which Chinese netizens shared in a screenshot.

In another Facebook post, Ko thanked President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for ensuring the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in May and urged people to support her re-election bid.

The posts showed that Ko’s beliefs do not conform to the so-called “1992 consensus” and Wuhan University should bar Ko from studying there, a Chinese netizen said.

The “1992 consensus,” which former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that there is “one China,” which each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Wuhan University’s Office of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Affairs said that it has launched an investigation into Ko’s activity on social media “through various means” and would handle the issue according to its results.

The school welcomes exchange students who acknowledge the “1992 consensus,” it said in a statement.

Ko said he was curious why Chinese netizens targeted him, adding that it was not likely in retaliation for anything, as he does not remember offending anyone.

NTNU chief secretary Lin An-pang (林安邦) said that Ko’s remarks on Facebook are protected by the Constitution and the university would defend Ko’s freedom of speech.

It respects Ko’s decision to back out of the exchange program, Lin said, adding that the incident is a shame, as Ko is an excellent student.

The two universities have been sister schools for years and have sent many exchange students, he added.

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