Tao Weishuo (陶韡烁) Defends his Statement: “All Chinese People Have Internet Freedom”

TAO WeishuoFollowing President Obama’s townhall meeting with students in Shanghai, during which Obama spoke out against Internet censorship, a student participant from Fudan University, Tao Weishuo (陶韡烁), was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “I strongly disagree with what Obama said about the Internet firewall… I think all Chinese people have Internet freedom – we can speak out freely on the Internet about current social affairs.” Tao’s comments generated a wave of criticism on the Chinese Internet as netizens slammed Tao for not speaking the truth about the situation in China.

Facing the onslaught of criticism, Tao has written a response to defend his position and posted it in Fudan University’s online forum (Already being deleted). Since it is relatively rare for young Chinese holding pro-government views to engage in public debate online with their critics, CDT translated portions of his post:

In this post, Tao presents his version of events surrounding the Washington Post interview. He then continues:

下面来谈谈我当时的想法:

1、我想首先问一下所有骂我的人们,你们看直播了吗?你们看到奥巴马怎么会问这个问题的吗?然我这个坐在第二排的人来告诉你,当时奥巴马回答上一个问题回答到一半时,一个美国特工上演讲台递给奥巴马一张纸条,随后奥巴马停止了点中国学生,而是告诉大家我们的洪博培大使要代表美国的网友提一个问题。洪博培随后就问了这个关于防火墙的精心挑选的问题,然后我们的奥巴马总统便洋洋洒洒的开始“教育”起中国的年轻人和中国政府来。听到这个回答之后的当时,我就特想直接站起来回应奥巴马,但是看到两个像山一样的保镖都盯着我,我就没有这么做。另我十分遗憾的是,之后的提问学生都没有就这个问题反刺一下总统。就这样和谐的结束了对话。

Let me talk about my thoughts at that time:

1. I want to first ask all those who are attacking me, have you seen the event on the live broadcast? Have you seen how Obama came to be asked this question? Let me, a person who was sitting in the second row, tell you: When Obama was in the middle of answering the previous question, a US special agent came up to the stage, and handed a note to Obama. Then Obama stopped taking questions from Chinese students, but told everyone that Ambassador Huntsman will ask a question on behalf of American netizens. [Translator’s note: The question asked of Obama and presented by Ambassador Huntsman was in fact posed by a Chinese netizen and was posted through a special web page set up by the U.S. State Department for this occasion.] Huntsman then asked this deliberately selected question about the Firewall, then President Obama started lecturing Chinese youth and the Chinese government at length. At that very moment when I heard this, I was compelled to stand up to respond to Obama directly, but I saw two security guards, as large as a mountain, staring at me, so I did not do so. Regretfully, students who asked questions after this did not rebut the President on this question. The dialogue ended harmoniously.

2、其实,我之后就已经明白如果我接受采访会怎么说。我认为首要的问题是,我们的国家、中国人、中国青年人不能随随便便被一个外国元首想怎么教育就怎么教育,而没有一点反应。面对国外的媒体,首先要传达的是这个信息。我当然知道我们的国家还有这样那样的不足甚至坏处,当然知道你们质疑我的问题都是真实情况,但是,如果你遇到外国记者你会如何选择?如果这个回答是我们的zhurongji总理说的你会骂他是NC吗?要让外国人知道我们对自己国家的爱护,这是我的第一信念。中国,我们自己可以批评、可以骂,但不能让外国人随便抹黑、攻击。

所以,我从来就看不起那些跑到国外说中国哪里不好、哪里不好的人,那些伸手向美国民主基金会和有关部门要钱的人。

2. As a matter of fact, I already knew what I would say after this, if I was interviewed. I think the most important issue is, our country, Chinese people and Chinese youth should not be lectured by a foreign leader as he pleases in such an arbitrary manner, and without any reaction. In front of foreign media, the first message to be transmitted is this one. I of course know that our country has this and that fault, and can even be wrong; of course the points you raised in your criticisms of me represent the real situation. But, if you meet a foreign journalist, what action will you choose? If the same answer came out from our Premier Zhu Rongji, would you also call him “brain damaged”? Let foreigners know how much we love and protect our own country, this is my first belief. China, we can criticize ourselves, we can curse it, but cannot let foreigners arbitarily demonize and attack it.

Therefore, I always look down on those people who went to foreign countries to say China has this and that wrong, those who ask money from National Endowment for Democracy Foundation and other agencies.

3、我为什么要当这个出头鸟呢?我怎么看待现在的结果和下场呢。的确在400多个参与这个活动的学生中,可能我的表达是唯一受到攻击的。其他人大概都没有这样说吧,更没有透露自己的真实姓名。但是我觉得,如果自己被选到,自己就有责任来这样表达青年人的观点至少是我这个青年人的观点。而且,我不想再被外媒弄成什么闪烁其词的“不愿透露姓名的中国学生”,这样反而更不好,更任由他们胡说八道了。我料到他们会歪曲或者节选我们的声音,但是这样至少还有人能说出真相,这反而能让更多人认识到敌我斗争的复杂性和艰巨性。我当然不会天真的认为我讲的全部是实话,但也不是谎话。

3. Why do I want to stick my neck out? How do I see the current consequences and result? Indeed among the 400 students who participated in this event, I probably am the only one being attacked. Others may not say what I have said, nor have they revealed their real names. But I feel, since I have been selected, then I have a responsibility to express the views of the youth, at least my own views as a youth. Also, I do not want to be quoted by foreign media as a “Chinese student who is unwilling to disclose his name,” that’s even worse, and will aid their nonsense report even more. I expected that they will distort or selectively choose our voices, but at least someone has to tell the truth; this can make more people realize the complexity and challenge of the struggle between us and our enemies. I of course am not that naive to believe that all I have said is true, but they are not lies either.

华盛顿邮报是怎样的报纸呢?很多人不会不知道吧?他在报我的回答之前的一段写到,Even the students who posed questions to Obama were pre-selected, and most appeared to be members of the Chinese Communist Party Youth League. 同学们,骂我的同学们,不是团员的请举手。我相信,要在复旦、交大、上外、同济等8所名校中找齐500个不是团员的听众肯定要比登天还难。大家为什么愿意相信华盛顿邮报这样的报纸对中国的报道,而不愿意为一个相信一个你身边的同学呢?

What kind of paper is the Washington Post? Not many people really do not know, right? The reporter wrote the following paragraph before my quote “Even the students who posed questions to Obama were pre-selected, and most appeared to be members of the Chinese Communist Party Youth League.”

My fellow students, my fellow students who attack me, please raise your hand if you are not a member of the Communist Youth League. I believe, it is nearly impossible to find 500 non-Communist Youth League member students in the eight outstanding universities such as Fudan, Jiatong University, Shanghai Foreign Language University and Tongji University. Why does everyone want to believe a China story reported in a newspaper like the Washington Post, instead of believing [me] your fellow student right next to you?

如果,我不这样回答,顺着奥巴马说,华盛顿邮报会怎么写?会抓住此更加大作文章吧。如果没有人去回答这个问题,那么他们又会怎样写?会写所有中国青年学生对这个问题静若寒蝉。

If I did not answer this way, and agreed with Obama, what will the Washington Post reporter write? WIll they make it even a bigger issue by exaggerating it? If no one answers this question, what they will write then? They will write that all Chinese young students are silenced on this question.

在我们这个古老而伟大的国家重新崛起的过程中,来自内部和外部的批评是少不了的,在他发展和与外部世界的偏见斗争的过程中,总有一些人要被牺牲,无论是死于外战还是死于同胞的口水。如果那个人会是我,我也将学所有的前辈,义无反顾。如果同样的事情再发生一次,我还是会同样全面的回答记者。

这就是我,一个复旦人,一个中国共产党党员的选择

In the process of our ancient and great country rising again to the world, there will be no lack of criticism from inside and out. In the process of our country developing and fighting with external bias perspectives, someone will be sacrificed. If that person is me, I will follow those who went before me, and devote myself to justice without hesitation. If the same situation replays again, I will give the reporter the same comprehensive answer.

This is the choice made by me, a man of Fudan, a member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Since the Washington Post report, Tao Weishuo had been given a new moniker by the twittersphere: “Internet Freedom Man (网络自由男).” Some bloggers also dug up past quotes Tao has given to Chinese media, translated by CDT:

Tao Weishuo, graduate student at the School of International Relations at Fudan University, in news reports over the years

2004
Tao Weishuo, a student in Fudan University’s International Politics department, points out that the United States has consistently held a double standard in regards to human rights. In fact, from Panama to Kosovo, U.S. bombings have resulted in a large number of civilian casualties, and [America] has seriously trampled on local people’s fundamental rights to survival and development.

2009
Tao Weishuo, a master’s degree student from Fudan University’s International Politics department, expressed that the CCP general secretary’s speech clearly illustrated that today’s youth ought to develop themselves at the level of the individual before joining with the country down its excellent route to prosperous development. [He also noted] that the address was an important document in guiding his country’s youth movement. As graduate students in the new era, we ought to aim for higher goals and strive to be world-class. We must work diligently, be assiduous innovators, and unrelentingly promote the development of our country’s scientific education.

2009
Fudan University graduate student, counselor of the 0909 undergraduate class, told reporters that after the outbreak of the overseas AH1N1 flu, [his] school immediately launched a broad educational campaign asking students to pay attention to disease prevention and hygiene, and to immediately report any abnormal [symptoms] to teachers and campus authorities. Currently, campus student life is normal, which includes study abroad and foreign exchange students and teachers. There has been no panic.

2009
Tao Weishuo, international relations and public affairs student at Fudan University:
I think out of Obama’s entire speech, including the Q&A session afterwards, the part that left me with the deepest impression was that Sino-American relations are already far outside the scope of bilateral relations. Rather, China and America are a pair on the global stage with remarkably strong influence. [I noted this] particularly during Obama’s response to the question of what he would like to take away from China. He mentioned that as regards carbon emissions reduction, all countries look to how China and America are exercising their leadership. Also very interesting is that he said that if China and America do not discuss the problem, then other countries may say that China and America are not taking the carbon emissions reduction question seriously. So what I wish to say is that [what Obama said] represents that America has practically already admitted to China’s status as a global leader.

Update: Here is the item of Tao Weishuo on Hudongbaike, a Chinese version of WIkipedia-like website.