The first post I ever made to this blog involved the Tiger Mom (TM) philosophy, which I consider counterproductive even with regard to the TMs’ goals. Well, in the case of Chinese foreign student Shuping Yang, her TM must now think the word counterproductive is a tragic understatement, for Ms. Yang recently delivered a commencement address at the University of Maryland in which she excoriated the Chinese government for lack of freedom of speech, allowing egregious pollution and so on. “If only I had not allowed her to major in psychology and theater,” her TM must be thinking.
Some of Yang’s fellow Chinese foreign students are livid for her public condemnation of the Homeland. But while some of that is likely due to pressure from the Chinese government, put yourself in their shoes. If you were studying in China and a fellow American student there were to viciously trash the U.S., how would you feel? Only the most tolerant Americans — or the most leftist — would be fully OK with that. And in the case of students from China, who’ve been schooled since age 4 that the Evil West has been persecuting China for 175 years, that goes double.
Over the years, I’ve refused to take sides on China, criticizing the government on some aspects but criticizing the critics on others. Back in the early 1990s, when Congress was considering revoking normal trade status (Most Favored Nation, MFN) from China, I pointed out the hypocrisy. After all, even the U.S. critics admitted that most people in China wanted MFN, so wouldn’t it be a tad hypocritical for Congress to take action against the popular will in China in the name of “democracy”?
On the other hand, I’ve always stated that the Chinese government is sbooting itself in the foot by restricting freedom of speech. So I sympathize with Ms. Yang (and have experienced the pollution problems, though things are improving). But what she doesn’t know is that a week from now, almost none of the people she is trying to reach in the U.S. will remember her. Meanwhile she will have burned her bridges with many people in China, even ones who agree with her. Very sad, a lose-lose situation.