What a University of Maryland Commencement Speech Reveals About China

And it’s not what you think.

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Photo: Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock.com
Media Outlet: The Diplomat

Zheng Wang wrote for The Diplomat on the graduation speech from Yang Shuping, a student from China, and the heated discussion it generated:

On May 21, an international student from China, Yang Shuping, gave a speech at her commencement ceremony at the University of Maryland. This was of course a great honor for an international student; however, the content of her speech immediately generated heated discussion, and a strong backlash online. Her speech caused a media storm, drawing attention from major new outlets, and even garnering comments from the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs. This small incident provides a larger example the complexity of China and the challenges in understanding Chinese thinking and China’s new nationalism.


Zheng Wang was a Class of 2016 & 2017 Carnegie Fellow at New America, writing a book about China’s rise and future U.S.-China relations. He is the director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and an associate professor in the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University.