Students at elite Shanghai university protest the removal of "freedom of thought" from the school charter

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About a week ago I think I posted somewhere here that there is a Chinese National as a member of my hackerspace who is insistent on the idea that all Western media about China is just wrong even though he lives here and goes to school here.

I wonder what he would say when I show him this and ask him why again is it that he decided to come to America to study, when they have perfectly good universities in China?

This is the road that China decided on. The well trodden road of authoritarianism, and the new road of orwellian panopticon.

I still find his “arguement” to be completely unbacked bullshit.



It’s hardly like it’s really their decision here - it’s effectively a military dictatorship with no qualms about killing as many as their own people as it takes to keep their rule in place. Anyone who steps out of line is “disappeared”, and official word is that they were lying about the whole thing. In such conditions the populous has no agency to make decisions of their own. Only those in power can make a change to that sort of power - it would take multiple cabinet-level officials turning on Xi at this point to do anything, as everyone below that level is either brainwashed into submission, or kept too scared to say anything.


What if he’s saying those things because that’s what he’s required to say?

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By who?

Is somebody going to come here from China and assassinate him if he doesn’t volunteer his opinion on his own as he did to me in this way?

I mean I know America is fucked but if you still can’t openly say what you want here you’re pretty screwed.

No- that’s my point.

Its a decision they made, and their culture at large does nothing to say otherwise.

It can be undone, same way America undid their oppression by the Brittish. I’ll be very clear here- stand up, and revolt. Kick dear leader Xi to the curb. Change their system of government.

The problem is the Chinese are creatures of habit, and culture- more than perhaps any other culture, when it comes to societal norms. They’re used to being ruled by dynasties, and there is no established history of modern democratic ideals anywhere in their history that I know of.

They have thousands of years of monolithic rule by emperors, and Confucianism with so many other societal aspects built in that makes them the lap dogs to powerful authoritarian leaders, with unquestioning obedience. Basically, while there have been revolts against authority in Chinese history there is not a culture of revolting against authority built in at any level to their society.

The fact that Hong Kong is even revolting right now is because in part they have seen what some autonomy and self-governance are like. They have tasted something closer to freedom then the rest of China so they are willing to fight for it.

For the record I do not feel modern democracy to be the perfect form of government much less an actual ideal freedom, but for the sake of argument here I would say it’s more than most people in China would ever know.

My city has an enormous amount of Chinese nationals who come to study at all of our universities, and I often wonder if any of our better ideas less our stupidity recently are being exported back with them when they go home.

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When any institution anywhere publically attacks the core values that are foundations of its sector, it’s no longer worth taking seriously – especially when it does so at the behest of authoritarian governments. Fudan University has signalled that it is no longer an elite university, at least as such things are understood in the larger world of international academia.


China has not been communist for a very long time. It’s certainly not Marxist. So Marxists are, understandably, protesting. Good for them!


I’m going to China for a relatively brief work trip/conference in the beginning of the year. It’ll be my first trip there, and I’m somewhat apprehensive. Just the electronic security precautions a business traveler needs to take are off-putting. But I figured, it’s a rare opportunity, and sometimes there’s value to going to places that aren’t rosy. I do live in the USA after all – it’s not like the USA isn’t really pretty fucked-up as well. We shall see!

He probably has family, who might be at risk if he says the wrong thing?


Sounds like something Texas would (if it hasn’t yet) eradicate from its school books.

I’m a bit surprised it was not already the case.

The problem is, that only works if the society is at least semi-free and doesn’t have thought police running around and a complete suppression of all undesirable media.

America was able to throw off their yoke because of the distance from England (military reinforcements took considerable time to get there), an at least semi-free press able to editorialize on what the Monarchy was doing (which made the average person see what was going on and be mad about it), and the lack of the government “disappearing” all dissidents for decades (so dissidents were still around to talk).

China has none of these things, so a revolution like the USA did is virtually impossible. Compare China to North Korea or Soviet Russia - neither one of those ever really got to the point of a violent uprising, or even would ever be able to because of the combination of modern military mobility, complete state lockdown of dissident ideas and media, and the Panopticon-like scrutiny of their population combined with “re-education” camps where you are brainwashed or die.

Soviet Russia only fell because they relaxed their control, allowing other ideas to enter their realm that challenged the status quo. This relaxed stance continued long enough to actually allow public opinion to shift far enough and wide enough to give an opening to real change - and that change was supported by high-ranking members of the government.

Who the hell would know? Does their panopticon follow them everywhere?

I mean, I understand Mindy, but I think he really honestly believes himself. The looks on his face were of smug derision when he spoke about it. Pretty sure he willingly drank that koolaid

Don’t see what the big deal is. Western universities have strived to be ideological pure for decades and are working their way towards that goal. I guess people are just sad that the Chinese have once again moved ahead of the west.

The government already knows who his family is, because to be able to access basic services (much like here, I might add), you need to be registered. And people who “go off script” when abroad can very much have their family put at risk as a result. We know that’s the case, because that’s actually happened. That being said, saying going off script to colleagues or friends might not be a problem, but living in a constant state of surveillance from childhood where you DO have to watch what you say likely makes you police your own language, which is entirely the point. Foucault talks about this with regards to how we police ourselves in modern society - you’ve internalized your own oppression and it shapes how you act. This sounds very much like what’s happening with your friend here. He very much realizes that consequences of deviating from the norms laid down by the Chinese government, and so he embraces them (with who knows what level of actually sincerity), because he is very much bringing the panopticon with him. That’s the whole point of modern mass society, that we’ve internalized a set of norms and think of them as our own.

But yes, you’re friend at the hackerspace might seriously believe what he says… in part because he’s not entirely incorrect about media bias in the west when it comes to China. That doesn’t mean China doesn’t have very real problems, including a current wave of crack downs on the Uighur population. But that doesn’t mean that western media isn’t biased against the Communist government in China. It can be both.



And of course this is a full sentence!

Yes it can be both.

I never said the man was my friend. He is not. He is a member of my space but I have met him once.

I understand what you’re saying and I agree with it to a point. I don’t think your argument is crazy at all and it’s well thought-out.

Never forget there are plenty of people in China who buy Xi’s authoritarian schtick completely and see no value in anything we do in the West.

Just saying since you have not met the guy and I have, I would say it’s very possible he’s just one of those people naturally. I generally tend to believe in Occams Razor.

The commentary actually came up after I was criticizing my own country with which I find plenty to be dissatisfied of late, fundamentally. It’s why I’m with Bernie and Warren.

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