Outrage over Thanksgiving candies because Chinese University says they don’t promote “Western holidays with religious connotations”

On Thursday, the online shared screenshots, according to the Northeast China Harbin Technical Institute staff on the popular WeChat platform wrote: “Today is Thanksgiving in the West, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank the No. 17 college students for supporting my work.”

“I’ll be handing out candies in the lobby from 7:50 a.m.,” the woman with the surname Wang added, along with a photo of two boxes of chocolate candy.

This offer was received with insults by a student accusing him of being “inappropriate” in spreading “such Western holidays.”

“As a representative of the (school) administration, did you not consider the consequences of celebrating Western holidays in public?” the student wrote. “Please stop this activity immediately. Otherwise, I will report it to the appropriate school class.”

Wang apologized in another message for “not thinking through it” and promised to “be more careful in the future.”

As images of the conversation became viral online and became one of the most high-profile topics in China’s Twitter-like Weibo service, the school issued a statement in early Friday stating after an investigation that “the dormitory supervisor’s offer for chocolate candies was based on good intentions. and so were the student’s messages. ”

“The school does not advertise (celebrate) Western holidays with religious connotations and strictly prohibits religious activities on campus,” the statement added.

Numerous online comments critically evaluated both the student’s response and the school statement, with one user writing, “How would you say the impact and threat was based on good intentions?”

“When foreigners celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival or (Lunar New Year), we call it‘ cultural export ’,” wrote another Weibo user. “If it’s the other way around, why do they ‘love foreign things and faint foreign countries’?”

Another Weibo user mockingly asked, “The Gregorian calendar also has religious implications, should we boycott it?”

Ideological control

Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power in late 2012, the country’s colleges and universities have come under increasing pressure to dominate speeches and activities that do not conform to the ruling Orthodox view of the ruling Communist Party. In recent years, there have been calls for a boycott of Western holidays, such as Christmas, at some universities across China.

Hszi said in 2016 that China needs to “build universities for forts that cling to the party’s leadership,” adding that the party needs to raise the capacity of its grassroots organizations to do “ideological and political work” in schools.

Government critics have drawn attention to an increasing number of cases in which liberal professors and students have been silenced or expelled, often after other students have reported, as examples of tightening ideological control and the disappearance of academic freedom in the country’s higher education sector.

Authorities have also worked to incorporate more of Xi’s writings and opinions into a mandatory university curriculum. As of the fall semester of 2020, 37 major colleges and universities in China began offering a course entitled “Overview of Social Thinking with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era of Xi Jinping.”

While the century-old Harbin Institute of Technology was not among the 37, the elite school was recently blacklisted by the Trump government because of alleged links to the People’s Liberation Army and its students were banned from entering the United States and granted access to critical engineering software. .

“Considering the U.S. sanctions against the school, the measures taken by the students were reasonable,” one Weibo user wrote. “There are so many other days to express our gratitude – why do we have to do this at ‘Western Thanksgiving’?”