Taiwan’s Tsinghua University student scolds Taiwanese minister; Chinese netizens’ reaction
December 12, 2012Jazza John2 Commentsanti-monopoly, Apple Daily, cross-strait relations, democracy, Ma Ying-jeou, press freedom, student protests, Taiwan, Tsinghua University, want want china times group
Jazza John, our contributor, is currently a student at National Chengchi University in Taiwan.
Taiwanese students have been making headlines on the island off the South-Eastern coast of mainland China as they protest against Want Want China Times Group’s bid for the acquisition of Next Media Group. If the take over is permitted by the Taiwanese government, Want Want will be able to add Next’s four Taiwanese media outlets (including Apple Daily, Sharp Daily and Next Magazine) to its already impressive collection, which includes the China Times, Want Daily, China Television Co. and CTITV.
Many commenters on the island have expressed concerns over the possible monopoly that Want Want China Times Group would subsequently have over media content after the takeover. Critics have also expressed concerns over excessive influence over Taiwanese media by the Mainland China, as Want Want is known for treading a pro-Chinese line.
Students expressed anger after universities throughout the capital, Taipei, received an email on Thursday of last week (11/29) from the Education Ministry’s Student Affairs Committee advising them to “show concern” and to take note of those who were taking part in the protests organized by “Youth Alliance Against Media Monsters”. The letter asked universities to especially make sure that the students’ health “were taken good care of” while they were protesting in the chilly, rainy weather.
The email was leaked online and has been criticized for sounding authoritarian. The Education Minister himself, Chiang Wei-ling, responded to the negative reaction to the letter by saying that the ministry had “not the slightest intention of monitoring students.” He later apologized for any misinterpretations of the letter.
However, Chen Wei-ting, a representative from the Youth Alliance and a student of Taiwan’s National Tsinghua University, vehemently denounced the Minister’s remarks in the parliament, “Minister, I think you are full of lies, a hypocrite and a minister that does not know repentance. I don’t think you are qualified to be a minister.”
Seven days after the email was sent (12/06), President Ma Ying-jeou expressed his support for student activism and its importance to the progression of society. The government spokesman also said that the President, who was voted into his second term at the beginning of 2012, believed that students had the right to express their opinions and fight for their values.
Whereas the pro-mainland stance of Want Want China Times Group as part of the reason for the anti-monopoly protest was deliberately left out of the picture, mainland Chinese media did give considerable coverage to the strongly worded criticism of the minister from the student at the National Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
In the mainland, the Beijing-based Tsinghua University, which traces back to the same root as its counterpart in Taiwan, is known as a cradle for leaders in a technocracy that depends on engineers to build the infrastructure. 250 of its alumni are or were heads of Chinese universities. 480 are or were officials at or above the provincial/ministerial level. Both Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, heads of the previous and the current Chinese leadership, graduated from Tsinghua. Political correctness, which in China means upholding the Communist rule and never dissenting, is greatly valued by many students at Tsinghua, according to Jiang Fangzhou, a fiction writer and social commentator who is also a Tsinghua alumna.
(Beijing-Tsinghua’s centennial celebration last year incurred much criticism of its political significance; Ministry of Tofu had a story here.)
That probably explains why Chinese netizens feld so strongly about how “politically incorrect” students from the Taiwan-Tsinghua are. Below are a number of comments on Sina Weibo.
hisstory：The young man got really worked up. When can mainland students get worked up?
霸气威武熊猫Tom：[If this is a student from the mainland Tsinghua] Student, you are doomed. Do you still want to join the Party? Do you still want awards and honors?
hellosandy：So Tsinghua does get inherited in Taiwan.
手机用户794243_31k：Ever since the mainland fell into enemy hands, the spirits of Peking University and Tsinghua University only continue in Taiwan.
刀之境：Why would students hate so much about the minister’s care?
jueye1982：If you dare to do this in the mainland, it is 80% sure that you will not see the sun rise tomorrow.
春浩_李：It looks Taiwan is so much freer and more democratic than us here…
林短：Isn’t this a slap in the face for the mainland?
什么鸭子两只脚走路：What is called democracy!.. Can this be seen in the Heavenly Kingdom?! With our political system, would Taiwanese compatriots ever want a reunion?
MrColin鹏鹏：Oh yeah! Look at how hard the evil capitalism has made it for the government officials!
渔夫者也：I saw this on Phoenix TV. Thought it was a documentary of the May Fourth Movement. How unlikely it is for us students in today’s mainland to have such an opportunity!