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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

Bashing the Communist Government, not Chinese people and students

As fights between Hong Kong students and mainland Chinese students occurred in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the overseas Chinese students had been labeled as brainwashed pro-communist protesters. The massive media coverage and comments on the students’ clashes, to some extent, misguided the Americans’ impression on typical overseas Chinese students and intensified the sentiments that the majority of Chinese students in the U.S., as characterized by President Trump, are spies. The Trump administration even considered a ban on Chinese nationals studying in the U.S.

I don’t agree with the biased presumption towards overseas Chinese students. As one of the overseas Chinese who have studied in the U.S., I want to use my personal experience to restore our mainland Chinese student’s reputation in terms of political beliefs and behaviors.


First and foremost, not all Chinese students are brainwashed communists. Public opinions are formed, developed and changed by many factors such as family, genes, experience, education, life events, etc. The education system in China might be all-encompassing with communist propaganda, but the untrue information the communist government sought to indoctrinate is less likely to build-in our political beliefs for a lifetime. Before a typical Chinese student coming to study abroad, he or she should have noticed that there are different knowledge, theories, and practices, including political ones, other than what they have learned in China. And those are probably the primary reason they wanted to study abroad. The early political-related education in China contributed little to their academic work at the Western campus.


There are so many diligent Chinese students and scholars studying and working in America. They are not only majoring in STEM, but also business, arts, humanities, and etc. For example. mainland Chinese students in my “Introductory to American Government” class sometimes stand out among Americans and other international students in terms of insights on the American political system. Regardless of what they learned in primary and high schools in China, it exerted little influence on their understanding of democratic politics. As they studied and lived abroad, the social-cultural elements they experienced in the democratic environment would strongly affect their political opinions and behaviors. Whatever the claims and motivations of Chinese students’ protests are, the action of expressing their political opinions has already been a democratic practice.


Even Chinese mainlanders, who have never studied in democratic countries, are not always echoing the Chinese government. A recent report exploring mainlanders’ reactions to the Hong Kong protests on Chinese-language social media “weibo” found “a range of opinion running the gamut from admiration to disdain, confusion, and even indifference.” Mainland Chinese, especially tech-savvy millennials, can always found their ways to explore the truth amid the misleading propaganda by the state-controlled media environment. Evidence shows that many mainland Chinese sneak into Hong Kong protests to support democracy.


Hong Kong protesters deserve respect, so do the outspoken Chinese mainlanders. As a Chinese mainlander, an American-educated student, and a political science scholar, I call for a reconsideration of your impression on Chinese people, especially our overseas Chinese students.


Please do not extend your China-bashing and negative attitude towards the Chinese Communist government to the innocent Chinese students, and please expand your sympathy of the Hongkongers who are protecting their freedom to the Chinese mainlanders who have never enjoyed the freedom.


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Disclaimer: The target of "China-bashing" is limited to the government of the People’s Republic of China, established and dominated by the Chinese Communist Party. The term "China" here should not be extended to ordinary Chinese people.


Dr. Xiaodong Fang

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