An international student from China who gave the student address at the University of Maryland’s commencement ceremony is facing a backlash in her home country after her speech went viral.
Yang Shuping, an international student from China, praised the United States’ commitment to free expression in the student address at the University of Maryland’s 2017 commencement ceremony. She claimed that she will be “forever grateful” for the “fresh air of free speech” that exists in the United States as opposed to
“People often ask me: ‘Why did you come to the University of Maryland?'” she said in her speech. “I always answer: Fresh air.”
“I grew up in a city in China where I had to wear a face mask every time I went outside, otherwise I might get sick. However, the moment I inhaled and exhaled outside the airport, I felt free,” she said, referring to her arrival in the United States.
“I would soon feel another kind of fresh air for which I will be forever grateful. The fresh air of free speech. Democracy and free speech should not be taken for granted. Democracy and freedom are the fresh air that is worth fighting for.”
In her speech, Yang claimed that her life in China convinced her that only state authorities within the Communist Party could define truth.
Her speech drew over 50 million views on social media in her home country, with many condemning the speech.
“China does not need a traitor like you. Just stay in the US and breathe your fresh air. No matter how bad China is, and even though you are speaking of your personal opinion, as a student representative, it is irresponsible of you to paint an inadequate picture of China,” one user posted, according to the Washington Post.
“Our motherland has done so much to make us stand up among Western countries, but what have you done? We have been working so hard to eliminate the stereotypes the West has put on us, but what are you doing? Don’t let me meet you in the United States; I am afraid I could not stop myself from going up and smacking you in the face,” another user chirped.
The People’s Daily Online, a mouthpiece for the communist party in China, condemned Shuping, claiming that her speech helped ““[bolster] negative Chinese stereotypes.”
A few users praised Shuping’s speech and condemned those who attacked her for speaking her mind.
Yang responded to the criticisms and offered an apology to her home country on Monday.
“I love my country and home town and I’m proud of its prosperity,” she wrote on her social media accounts.
“I hope to make contributions to it using what I have learned overseas. The speech was just to share my experiences overseas, and I had no intentions of belittling my country and home town… I am deeply sorry and hope for forgiveness,” she finished.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org