Northwestern University stands up to Chinese students whining over photo of Taiwan independence flag

Northwestern University's army of Chinese students apoplectic over appearance of Taiwan independence flag at campus event

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(Photo from Instagram account @northwesternu)

(Photo from Instagram account @northwesternu)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Despite a massive outcry by its brigade of Chinese students, Northwestern University has refused to take down a photo showing students waving the Taiwanese flag and a pro-Taiwan independence flag.

On Wednesday (Nov. 20), the Illinois-based Northwestern University posted a group photo on its Instagram page showing some of the 80 students, faculty, and staff representing 35 countries who participated in its "March of Flags" event. Among the flags being held up by international students in the photo, the flag of Taiwan and a green, pro-Taiwan independence banner that reads "I am Taiwanese and I stand for Taiwan independence" can be seen on the right.

In close proximity to the Taiwanese and Taiwan independence flag, the crimson banner of Communist China is also clearly visible, with no animosity apparent among the students. The original post stated that the event was meant to "bring people together and showcase the amazing diversity of our international community."

However, dozens of Northwestern's 1,500 Chinese students, the equivalent to an army brigade, began peppering the Instagram post with long-winded diatribes on how free speech should not be permitted in the case of Taiwan's political status.

The Chinese students complained that the university was using social media to express political opinions and emphasized that because China's founding principle is "unity and territorial integrity," allowing freedom of speech to challenge that is "dangerous and offensive to the Chinese people."

Instead of kowtowing to the communist-educated pupils, Northwestern took a stand and decided to defend free speech and freedom of expression by issuing the following statement:

"We support and encourage free expression and free speech on campus and the sometimes uncomfortable debates that such speech inspires. Universities are a place for rigorous debate and discussion of difficult topics, and this is one of those times.

We did not intend to make a political statement by posting this photo. The March of Flags event was intended to bring people together and show the amazing international diversity of our campus.

We would have preferred that no political statements be made on that occasion and we acknowledge that some members of our community were offended. Having said that, we support our students’ right to free expression and have left the photo in place."⠀⠀⠀⠀

Users of the Taiwan subcategory for the social media site Reddit were greatly heartened by Northwestern's principled stand:

"It's also hilarious seeing the porcelain hearts complaining about "political statements" in a post about national flags."

"Lmao such glass hearts. *Grabs popcorn and opens link."

"That green flag stirs up love in me."

"'This is a violation of Chinese people's bottom line.' He says, on Instagram, which is literally banned in China lmao."

"Bottom line is your parents sent you to America to study because the free world is superior to s**thole China. While you're there you will learn to abide by the rules and respect other peoples' rights and then when you're done your parents will make you go back to China to live in a way that is more comfortable and familiar to you."

"I actually support these posts by Chinese students. It makes it really easy to know who needs to have their student visa pulled so that they can be deported."

"I'm having a hell of a time wrapping my brain around the irony of them complaining about freedom of expression and free speech on a platform banned in the place they're wanting to speak up for because... it lets people have free speech and freedom of expression.

All while studying in a country which treasures such things O.o"

UPDATE: We support and encourage free expression and free speech on campus and the sometimes uncomfortable debates that such speech inspires. Universities are a place for rigorous debate and discussion of difficult topics, and this is one of those times. We did not intend to make a political statement by posting this photo. The March of Flags event was intended to bring people together and show the amazing international diversity of our campus. We would have preferred that no political statements be made on that occasion and we acknowledge that some members of our community were offended. Having said that, we support our students’ right to free expression and have left the photo in place. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . . . More than 80 students, faculty and staff representing at least 35 countries kicked off International Education Week with a "March of Flags" to bring people together and showcase the amazing diversity of our international community. #IEW2019

Northwestern University(@northwesternu)分享的貼文 於 張貼