If China halts free speech for students, will that stop them from having complaints?

  • Expulsion of Chinese student for ‘unpatriotic’ social media post reminds of the freedoms that Hongkongers have enjoyed
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 6:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 6:04am

I am writing in response to “Why Chinese students should be allowed to speak their mind” (November 1). I was shocked to read the original news report about the student who was expelled for saying on social media that he could not love his country, as I could not believe that freedom of speech could be muzzled in this way.

At the same time, I felt lucky to have been born in Hong Kong, where we can express our feelings in public forums without any pressure or the fear that we would be expelled from school for being “unpatriotic”.

As Hongkongers, we are always encouraged by our teachers to give our opinion freely and are told to respect different opinions. As we dare to speak for ourselves and learn from the opinions of others, this helps to lay the foundation for innovation and improvement in our society, I believe.

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However, I wonder whether incidents such as this would remind Chinese people to keep their true feelings to themselves and not dare to criticise the country. The student concerned was unfortunately expelled from school, but can that stop people from being “unpatriotic”? Criticism of the country still exists or may even increase. People would just stay silent in the public domain. It must be remembered that, if the voices of criticism disappear, that does not mean that one is perfect.

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China is developing at a fast pace. But besides having a prestigious international status with a high GDP and a large domestic market, freedom of speech should also be something to think about.

Zoe Lee, Tsuen Wan