Chinese students mum on Hong Kong, but some willing to speak out

10/11/2019 06:26 PM
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Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) Following a series of conflicts between Chinese and Hong Kong students on Taiwanese campuses over the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, many Chinese students here who support the protests are keeping quiet, fearing the consequences.

"To protect our own safety, we have cowardly opted to keep silent (over what is happening in Hong Kong since June)," said Xiaoyu (小玉), a post-graduate student from Zhejiang province who has been studying in Taiwan for six years.

"I've been accused by many for not being patriotic for just choosing to keep quiet over Hong Kong," said Xiaoyu (a pseudonym to protect her identity). "But I want to make it clear that not all (of the Chinese students) buy the (government's) accounts."

Xiaoyu is one of the few Chinese students who have stayed in Taiwan after her graduation from university. Most of the Chinese nationals who came to study here around the same time as her have returned to China.

"I've seen the good days and the bad days (for Chinese students in Taiwan), but I've never sensed such a chill and hostility as now, not even during the Sunflower Student Movement," she said, referring to the anti-Beijing student movement in Taiwan in 2014.

Some Chinese students in Taiwan who back Beijing's line have made their feelings known by clashing with students from Hong Kong or tearing down messages of support for the Hong Kong protesters on Lennon Walls on Taiwanese campuses.

Those incidents have been very painful for Xiaoyu whenever she hears about them, she said, leaving her "heartbroken" because of what she called some Chinese students' "blind patriotism."

"How can you (Chinese students) be so blind now that you are already in Taiwan where you have access to all kinds of information?" she asked. "Why not get complete information instead of just calling the protesters useless youth or Hong Kong independence supporters without even knowing what their five demands are?"

Taiwan and Hong Kong students from National Taipei University join hands in human chain to support Hong Kong

A 30-year-old Chinese national was forced to exit Taiwan after being caught tearing down pro-Hong Kong messages from a campus Lennon Wall at National Taiwan University

Commenting on the repeated clashes between students from China and Hong Kong in Taiwan, Xiaoyu believed it might be because Chinese students tend to be cliquish.

They generally spend all their time with others from their hometowns and only get news from Chinese social media platforms, according to Xiaoyu.

Asked whether she believed that vandalism by Chinese students on Taiwanese campuses was pre-orchestrated, she said she could not say one way or the other.

"There are several radical students, but you can never know the motivation behind their comments and you will never see a clear order from an organization," she said.

"I hope that Taiwan and Hong Kong will continue to say what we (Chinese students) cannot say," she said.

Lin Lin (琳琳), a post-graduate student from Guangdong province now studying in Japan after completing her college education in Taiwan, said Hong Kong culture formed part of her upbringing.

"Government propaganda, or the accusations of terrorism by Chinese media against Hong Kong pro-democracy supporters, is really terrifying," said Lin Lin (another pseudonym to protect her identity).

The approaches used by the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have done nothing to solve the problem. "Instead, it has split the two sides even further," she said.

"I don't understand why they call these people who are willing to risk their lives to express their views and fight for their rights 'useless youth.'"

Admitting that she has many friends who oppose the pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, Lin Lin said she is sometimes even afraid to voice a simple "Go Hong Kong" in public because she could be branded as being in favor of Hong Kong independence.

She also cannot understand why Chinese people destroyed Lennon Walls while visiting other countries, calling such deliberate acts proof that "China's brainwashing efforts have paid off."

(By Flor Wang, Miao Chung-hen and Lai Yen-hsi)


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