China blows cold air at US grad student’s speech on dirty air, politics
BEIJING: A young Chinese woman has drawn criticism on social media after unfavourably comparing her homeland’s air and politics with those in the United States during her graduation speech at an American university.
Speaking at the University of Maryland, Yang Shuping said that coming to the US had been a breath of “fresh air” after growing up in China.
“The air was so sweet and fresh and utterly luxurious,” she said, in a video of the speech posted on YouTube.
“The moment I inhaled and exhaled outside the airport, I felt free,” she continued, drawing a parallel between China’s notorious air pollution and its similarly choking restrictions on political speech.
The reaction was swift and brutal, with comments in Chinese and English telling her to stay in America.
Posts related to the video on the Chinese micro blogging site Weibo had received more than 56 million views by yesterday afternoon.
“People like this, with biased opinions and broken English, should never be allowed to speak publicly as a commencement speaker,” said one remark posted under the YouTube video. The site is banned in China.
Commenters who said they hailed from Yang’s hometown Kunming accused her of lying about the air quality in the major metropolis in the city’s southwest, with many claiming it was as clean as Washington’s, near her university’s campus.
“The only explanation for her wearing a mask in Kunming is that she’s ugly,” said one commenter on Weibo, referring to her comment that she had worn one to protect herself from the bad air.
Yesterday, air quality readings in Kunming were as high as 107, four times the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum exposure for a 24hour period. In Washington, they were at two. AFP