Being a Chinese who holds dissident views is weird. You face all kinds of stereotypes, from being antisocial to just a dangerous person. One accusation of character, however, stands out, and it is perhaps one that I am most afraid of: that I am an unpatriotic Chinese. As a Chinese studying abroad, this allegation is perhaps one that I am most insecure about. It is often a devastating punch too.
As China has come under international scrutiny for sending Uyghurs — a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority — to detention camps, dozens of Cornellians packed a room in Rockefeller Hall on Monday for a “teach-in” intended to shed light on the situation.
I remember my palpable disappointment when I first watched the movie “Crazy Rich Asians.” It turns out that most of my fellow international Chinese friends also judged this film that way, as well as the general public in China. The movie flopped in China, both in the box office and in reviews. The aggregated score from 83,054 public reviews on Douban (豆瓣), the Chinese equivalent of IMDb, is a mere 6.1 out of 10. A common thread of criticism toward the film is a lack of authenticity, with many Chinese moviegoers begrudgingly calling it “General Tsao’s Chicken,” a particularly cruel title if you realize that this famous and delicious Chinese food is actually an invention linked more to America. So, you can perhaps imagine my bewilderment at first when I realized that “Crazy Rich Asians” is actually a cultural phenomenon in America, having a deep impact on the Chinese-American community in particular.
I’m a Chinese Ph.D. student who came to Cornell to pursue the world’s best education and technologies, hoping to one day make a contribution toward the evolution of all human societies. I usually follow political news but always stay apolitical myself, since I like to keep my life simple and focused on science. However, upon reading two recent articles from The Sun — entitled “Claims of Vandalized Pro-Hong Kong Posters Bring Overseas Tensions to Cornell” and “When Victims Become Perpetrators: The Human Condition of Chinese Students” — and the pro-Hong Kong protest slogans actively appearing around campus, I’m deeply concerned by the serious misinformation and lack of communication between the Chinese and American communities. I’ve never felt so unrepresented before, and the past few weeks have been the most difficult time during the six years I’ve spent at Cornell. I’m not writing to directly contradict the opinions from those aforementioned articles.
A report from The Sun yesterday adds ballast to what many had long suspected: that pro-Hong Kong materials are being vandalized on campus, with Snapchat screenshots suggesting that students were responsible for vandalizing stickers stuck to a footbridge railing. It harkens back to dark memories two years ago when pro-Tibet human rights posters on Arts Quad were similarly stolen. The repetition of such an act of grave immaturity and irresponsibility puts into question the conscience of those perpetrators, widening the chasm within the larger Chinese community between the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong people. But one question lingers: why? Why would someone destroy materials meant to support those protesting an overbearing state?
Clarification appended. Mere hours ago, a teenager in the Tsuen Wan District in Hong Kong was shot with live ammunition. The bullet missed his heart by three centimeters but nonetheless pierced his lung — an injury that can sometimes end with the patient drowning in his own blood. Thankfully, this one did not. According to reports, he is in stable condition, but at the time of this writing, he joins 50 others injured while demonstrating against the government in Hong Kong on the 70th anniversary of the ascent to power of China’s Communist Party.
“Why would people in Hong Kong want to exchange this free-wheeling, hybrid culture they have, that blends elements from all over China, from Western countries, from Southeastern countries … in exchange for what is seen as a sterile and conformist regime?” Friedman asked.
While summer pursuits were occupying many a Cornellian, a jarring story dropped back here on the Hill. In a July 3 letter to President Martha Pollack, the Department of Education suggested Cornell may have violated the Higher Education Act of 1965. The University’s alleged misdeed? A failure to duly disclose financial relationships with China and Qatar. Last March, after The Sun uncovered lucrative research arrangements between Cornell and the Chinese telecom firm Huawei, the University assured us there was nothing to worry about.