Why China should allow students to speak their mind: it’s the road to social progress
- Being patriotic can indeed bring us to rally around a cause, but we cannot be blindly patriotic
- Every punishment or penalty for speaking one’s mind is a setback for freedom
I am writing in response to the letter from Oceana Wong about the Chinese student who paid the price for saying he could never love his country (“Expelled for not loving the country: can patriotism be forced?”, October 3).
Wang Dong, an intelligent Hunan City University student brave enough to express his own thoughts about his country, should never have been expelled. I find it extremely troubling that the reason for his expulsion was stated as being “unpatriotic”. I agree with Ms Wong that the first and most important right for all people should be the right to free speech. For the improvement of society, we need the right to express our thoughts and ideas. Why was it such a disgrace for Wang to express his own thoughts?
That his criticism of his country was deemed “unpatriotic” brings us to another question: must people be forced to love their country? Being patriotic is right and it can indeed bring us to rally around a cause, but we cannot be blindly patriotic.
To unquestioningly love the country and follow the accepted line of thought is to conform without independent analysis. But now that we know how Wang was punished, would everyone accept independent thought to be a flaw under an autocracy? I believe an independent, clear mind and courageous heart to face the mighty is needed under any circumstance.
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But Wang’s case worries me. Every punishment or penalty for speaking one’s mind is a setback for freedom or strikes at the pursuit of freedom. I am glad that someone had the courage to stand up for their convictions. But the punishment leaves me feeling unsettled. Can there ever be true freedom in China, or in Hong Kong?
I just hope the Chinese government would show more openness to the freedom of speech, as this can fuel social and national progress.
Leon Chan, Tsuen Wan
Not loving your country is not an option
What incoherent minds have been brought up here in Hong Kong as to have generated the questions raised in the October 4 letters: “Must people be forced to love their country” and “Time to reflect on the words of expelled student”.
Of course, one can choose not to love the government, but one cannot choose not to love the country. As Mark Twain put it: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
If one dislikes the country, leave the country, but do not try to turn it into a foreign country.
Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen