Letters to the editor: Regarding Sinophobia on campus

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Subjective opinions do not equate objective facts. Claims need evidence to become credible. All are innocent until proven guilty. Yet, an opinion piece published on The Flat Hat last month violated these principles.

It accuses China of genocide against its own citizens. However, it provides no definition of the term, nor did it care to elaborate upon its claims or provide evidence to back them up. Instead, it wantonly threw around terms such as forced sterilization (you’ve read Adrian Zenz, I figure?) and the “banning of religion” (mosques are ubiquitous in Xinjiang).

The subsequent paragraphs are even more puzzling. The author states that Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong is “only a small part of its expansionism that has caused 18 border conflicts with its neighbors.” Once again, the author provides no additional information on how Beijing is the sole aggressor in all of its “18 border conflicts”, or why China’s actions in its own territory somehow exemplifies “expansionism” on par with the Anschluss. By recklessly using such terms without any elaboration, the author is pretending that his subjective opinion is an objective fact.

The main focus of this opinion piece, however, is aimed at attacking the College’s chapter of the CSSA. This is where the author’s paranoia becomes most evident. It accuses WM’s CSSA of doing Beijing’s biddings, stating allegations such as surveilling Chinese students and harassing Hong Kongers. No evidence was provided. Instead, the author lists several CSSA chapters at other universities, stating that these other CSSA chapters have received funding and taken directives from Chinese embassies. But how is this proof that the CSSA at our college is spying and harassing its students? The CSSA is not some faceless apparatus, but rather just a handful of WM students, many of whom are my friends (and frankly, just as critical toward China’s government as you are toward yours). When you accuse your fellow students of spying and harassment, the burden of proof is on you. The least you can do is provide better evidence than the funding of some other CSSA chapters.

It is disappointing how a law student at William & Mary could write something so lacking in basic logic, and so biased to a pre-set narrative. If you want to have a candid conversation about the situation in Xinjiang, or of China at large, I’m game any time. My email is ashen03@email.wm.edu. But if you do, please come in good faith. Know that I disagree with you not because I’m “brainwashed” or because I have some ulterior motive, but simply because I hold different views.

Email An Shen at ashen03@email.wm.edu.

I think I feel more disappointment than anger after reading the original piece. Most of the Chinese students here at W&M are very open to criticisms on their government. Many policies and actions are very problematic and we are not being apologists. We attend lectures (many of which are held by the Confucius Institute, an entity funded by the Chinese Foreign Ministry), write papers, and listen to others on the matter. As such, it’s really important not to ignore the nuances of arguments and constantly engage in self-reflection, self-critique when making them. I truly believe when someone does not speak from facts and logic, they are letting stereotypes and biases getting the best of themselves. I hesitate to characterize the piece with words like racism, discriminatory, or Sinophobia. However, the bottom line is that in the original piece words like “genocide”, “expansionism”, “talent-recruit programs”, and “Han-supremacist” are not rooted in academic rigors; rather, they are grossly simplified, unsubstantiated, and defamatory claims and accusations. Perhaps all Chinese students should leave the campus because their parents are party members and they are raised in Communist education systems. Knowing a few things about American politics, I can’t stop thinking what do people feel when the attorney general compared virus lock in to slavery. I want to remind people how did we get to here: a toxic political environment full of partisan lies and slanders. I want to ask why the same things would not be applied to countries like Israel or Saudi Arabia. But again, I know where the knowledge of my limit lies.

Email Frank Qingyu Tao at qtao@email.wm.edu.

The Flat Hat welcomes letters to the editor at any time. They may be submitted to flathat.editor@gmail.com or fhopinions@gmail.com.