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Censorship in China

Chinese student who could ‘never love my country’ expelled after two weeks for being unpatriotic

Civil engineering undergraduate insulted a nation with his ‘extremely erroneous remarks’, propaganda department rules

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 September, 2018, 7:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2018, 4:04pm

A Chinese student has been expelled for posting comments on social media deemed “unpatriotic” by his university’s Communist Party-run propaganda department in the latest of a series of similar crackdowns in the education sector.

Wang Dong, 18, enrolled on an undergraduate programme with the civil engineering department at Hunan City University on September 9. Just 10 days later he became the subject of an investigation after people complained about his “insulting” social media posts, the Party Committee Propaganda Department said in a statement released on Saturday.

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In one comment on his personal account on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, Wang wrote that, “loving my country is impossible, I will never love my country”, the statement said.

In other posts he made “extremely erroneous remarks” that were insulting to the country and had an “extremely bad influence”, it said.

As a result of his comments, the university, in Yiyang, central China’s Hunan province, decided to disqualify him, it said.

News of Wang’s expulsion sparked a debate on China’s social media platforms, with the department’s own announcement on Weibo attracting more than 19,000 comments. About half supported the school’s decision and half opposed it.

“If someone can be punished for being unpatriotic, does it mean people are forced to love their country?” one person wrote.

The South China Morning Post was unable to reach Wang for comment and calls to the school went unanswered on Sunday.

His Weibo account appeared to have been cleared of all content, including the contentious posts, except for a profile description, which read: “top ten patriotic youth”. An earlier version of it used the words: “this account is for criticising China”.

Wang’s case comes amid an apparent rise in censorship at Chinese schools and universities. Just last week the government ordered the removal of all foreign textbooks from junior and middle-school, according to a report by Beijing Youth Daily, while in August, Yang Shaozheng, an economics professor at Guizhou University was expelled after being accused of “spreading politically harmful expressions”.

Last year, Yin Shanshan, an instructor at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, was sacked after she described Wolf Warrior 2, the highest grossing Chinese film of all time and highly patriotic in nature, as “not worth a cent”.

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Gu Su, a professor of philosophy and law at Nanjing University, said Wang’s case was likely to make students nervous about speaking honestly or discussing certain issues.

“The punishment [doled out to Wang] seems too harsh,” he said.

However, he said the decision of Hunan City University did not necessarily reflect a national trend of intolerance.