An American's Reply To UMD Commencement Speaker Yang Shuping

Maybe we should worry less about what Yang said, and focus on bettering the world.

 

(Yicai Global) May 25 ― I’m a New Yorker and people often ask me, “why did you come to China?”

I always answer, “safety.”

Three years ago, as I stepped off the plane from the US and left the terminal at Pudong International Airport, I was ready to put on one of my five bulletproof vests, but when I looked around, I found myself ― for the first time ― in a land where gun violence is not prevalent and put my vest away. The feeling of safety was so liberating and comforting and oddly luxurious. I was surprised by this.

The feeling of safety was so liberating and comforting and oddly luxurious. I was surprised by this.

I grew up in a suburb in the US where I had to wear body armor every time I went outside, otherwise, I might die from a gunshot wound to my torso. However, the moment I saw no whizzing bullets outside the airport, I felt free.

No more fear of firearms. No more hiding in bunkers. No more vulnerability. Every step was a delight. As I sit here today, I cannot help but recall that feeling of freedom.

I could go on about other problems in my homeland like illegal drug use, alcoholism and drinking and driving, but of course, I’m kidding.

In the wake of Shuping Yang’s University of Maryland graduation ceremony speech, which caused quite a stir as many Chinese netizens blamed her for “degrading China,” I just want to remind everyone that exaggerations are by definition, not ‘true’ and that both the US and China are great countries. Each has problems and is working to improve.

Yang may have used hyperbole inappropriately and painted an inaccurate picture of life in China. I hope that people who want to learn about China will visit and make their own judgements, and that those looking to find out about the US, will travel there and see it for themselves.

Yang reportedly posted an apology on Weibo, saying “I love my country and hometown and am proud of its prosperity … I also hope to make contributions to it with what I have learnt overseas … the speech is just to share my overseas experience and I have no intention to belittle my country and hometown … I’m deeply sorry and hope for forgiveness.”

But, maybe we should worry less about what Yang said, and focus on bettering the world.

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