Through The Static

April 17, 2008

Chinese Student in U.S. Is Caught in Confrontation

Filed under: Politics,World News — disciplepete @ 12:23 pm

NYT:

DURHAM, N.C. — On the day the Olympic torch was carried through San Francisco last week, Grace Wang, a Chinese freshman at Duke University, came out of her dining hall to find a handful of students gathered for a pro-Tibet vigil facing off with a much larger pro-China counterdemonstration.

Ms. Wang, who had friends on both sides, tried to get the two groups to talk, participants said. She began traversing what she called “the middle ground,” asking the groups’ leaders to meet and making bargains. She said she agreed to write “Free Tibet, Save Tibet” on one student’s back only if he would speak with pro-Chinese demonstrators. She pleaded and lectured. In one photo, she is walking toward a phalanx of Chinese flags and banners, her arms overhead in a “timeout” T.

But the would-be referee went unheeded. With Chinese anger stoked by disruption of the Olympic torch relays and criticism of government policy toward Tibet, what was once a favorite campus cause — the Dalai Lama’s people — had become a dangerous flash point, as Ms. Wang was soon to find out.

The next day, a photo appeared on an Internet forum for Chinese students with a photo of Ms. Wang and the words “traitor to your country” emblazoned in Chinese across her forehead. Ms. Wang’s Chinese name, identification number and contact information were posted, along with directions to her parents’ apartment in Qingdao, a Chinese port city.

It gets worse:

Salted with ugly rumors and manipulated photographs, the story of the young woman who was said to have taken sides with Tibet spread through China’s most popular Web sites, at each stop generating hundreds or thousands of raging, derogatory posts, some even suggesting that Ms. Wang — a slight, rosy 20-year-old — be burned in oil. Someone posted a photo of what was purported to be a bucket of feces emptied on the doorstep of her parents, who had gone into hiding.

“If you return to China, your dead corpse will be chopped into 10,000 pieces,” one person wrote in an e-mail message to Ms. Wang. “Call the human flesh search engines!” another threatened, using an Internet phrase that implies physical, as opposed to virtual, action.

Messed up situation. The girl broke it down well:

“If traitors are people who want to harm China, then I’m not part of it,” she said. “Those people who attack me so severely were the ones who hurt China’s image even more.” (article)

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