Chinese Delegates Go Ballistic at Model UN Event

Proud and nationalistic Chinese are increasingly vocal overseas. Often, though not always, they get away with bullying others on key issues
Photo: J. Michael Cole / TT
Photo: J. Michael Cole / TT
J. Michael Cole
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A delegation of Chinese students at the Harvard Model United Nations held Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 made a dreadful discovery when they cracked open this year’s conference handbook. What they saw was so offensive that they made a scene, and several members of the group (the adult supervisors, as it turns out) ended up being expelled from a meeting. Two words were at the heart of the kerfuffle: Taiwan and country.

There is something about Taiwan that sometimes brings out the very worst in many a Chinese overseas. Time and again, Chinese young and old have gone haywire at academic settings whenever someone dared to argue that Taiwan may actually be a country rather than a province of China, as Beijing claims. When that happens, they just snap. They scream, storm out, threaten, gang up on others, and intimidate whoever stands in their way, including school authorities.

This is dispiriting for at least two reasons: It demonstrates that exposure to Western ideas and a liberal education is insufficient to bust the nationalistic doctrine that was drilled into young Chinese from a very young age; and it gives the whole body of Chinese, many of whom are much more open minded on the Taiwan “question,” a bad reputation.

A full account of the incident from the perspective of one of the Chinese participants is available (in Chinese) here. To make a long story short: During the first HMUN2015 meeting, which took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston on the evening of Jan. 29 , the head of the Chinese delegation discovered that the conference handbook contained the word Taiwan in its list of “international participants by country” (some of the participants were from the Taipei American School). Immediately, the Chinese side requested that the “error” be corrected. Taiwan, they said, is not a country and it isn’t a UN member. As such, the handbook should be modified to read “country or region.” The Secretariat refused, however, and the dispute continued the next day, with the Chinese side accusing the organizers of having a “poor understanding” of international relations. The situation continued to deteriorate until the organizers asked security personnel at the hotel to remove some members of the Chinese delegation and threatened to call the police. “Your presence makes us uncomfortable,” they said.

In a Jan. 31 e-mail message to the Chinese delegation, Ruth Kagan, Secretary-General of HMUN2015, explained why changes to the handbook were not necessary:

Harvard Model United Nations publishes in its conference handbook the country of origin as reported by each delegation without modification. The inclusion of Taiwan is not meant as a political statement by the conference, nor does that listing represent the views of the Harvard International Relations Council.

Again, the conference handbook is copyright property and cannot be reproduced, in whole or in part, in print or electronically, without written permission.

Furthermore, although Taiwan appeared in the list of countries by participants, it did not figure in the actual UN conference (according to one of the students, the Taiwanese were assigned the Holy See, which has no voting powers). Still, this did little to persuade the Chinese students, who argued that while they do not seek conflict with their “Taiwanese compatriots,” the mention of Taiwan, which is “clearly not a sovereign state,” was an “inexcusable mistake” on the part of the organizers.

HMUN2015 then tried to meet the Chinese halfway. In an e-mail dated Feb. 1, Louisa Carman, Under-Secretary-General for Administration, wrote:

Hello, we hope you have enjoyed your experience at HMUN! I just wanted to let you know that if you would like stickers that say “by Country and Region” to add to your delegates’ handbooks you may pick them up at Delegate Services until 12pm today. I hope that this improves your experience. Please fell free to let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

That didn’t satisfy the Chinese delegation either.

“Still no apology, no statement,” one of them wrote before embarking on a diatribe against American democracy and freedom of expression, which were a sham because the Chinese had clearly faced discrimination. The Chinese were the victims of discrimination because the Secretariat refused to allow them to discriminate against the Taiwanese. So much for logic.

Beyond doubt the organizers of HMUN2015 acted sensibly in the situation. They refused to be pressured by hotheads, and they pushed back just enough to maintain their integrity. If only we could see this more often!

Now the real question is, what will the handbook say next year? The Chinese have long perfected the art of whittling away at other people’s resistance until the latter change their views without noticing it. Will the Secretariat, perhaps wanting to avoid a new round of confrontations, simply give in to the Chinese students’ demands and use the designation “country and region” in their handbook? Or will they do the right thing and stick to their guns? Stay tuned!

(Updated 2015.02.06 10:01 am)
(Second Update 2015.02.11 9:24 am)

 

J. Michael Cole is editor in chief of Thinking Taiwan, a senior non-resident fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, and an Associate researcher at the French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Taipei.

 

中國學生在模擬聯合國會議上暴跳如雷 (Trans. by William Tsai)

愛國又驕傲的中國學生在國外的聲勢越來越龐大,往往在關鍵議題上任意欺凌他人,但未必每次都能得逞。

前往哈佛大學參加今年1月29日到2月1日模擬聯合國會議的中國學生代表團,一翻開會議手冊就又驚又怒。他們看見的內容是如此冒犯,使得他們大吵大鬧起來,最後有好幾位團員被請出會場。這一團混亂全都起於兩個關鍵字:「台灣」和「國家」。

一說到台灣,總有些事情會讓許多在世界各地的中國學生表現出最惡劣的一面。一次又一次,在學術會議上,只要有誰膽敢主張台灣實際上應該是個國家,而不是北京當局宣稱的中國一省,中國的年輕人就會失去控制。每到這個時候,他們就逕自暴走,高聲咆哮、衝出會場、出言威脅、串聯他人抵制,並且挑釁恫嚇任何覺得礙眼的人,包括就讀學校的校方。

如此現象令人灰心失望,原因至少有二:這說明了接觸西方思想和接受自由主義教育,仍不足以動搖中國年輕人從小就被灌輸的民族主義教條。這種行為也讓全體中國學生蒙受惡名,但他們之中其實有許多人對台灣「問題」是更寬容的。

其中一位中國學生已經用中文在網際網路上發表了他們一方的事件全紀錄。長話短說:1月29日晚上,在波士頓喜來登飯店召開的2015年哈佛大學模擬聯合國會議(HMUN2015)第一次領隊會議上,中國代表團領隊發現會議手冊將台灣列入「各國與會名單」一欄之中(有幾位與會者來自台北美國學校)。中國方面立刻要求大會「糾正」錯誤,他們宣稱,台灣不是國家,更不是聯合國會員國,所以應當將手冊這一欄改為「國家或地區」。但會議秘書長拒絕,爭論因此延續到隔天,中國方面譴責主辦單位「不具備基本國際關係常識」,事態自此不斷惡化,最後主辦單位要求飯店警衛將中國代表團其中幾位團員請出會場,並揚言報警處理。他們說:「你們在這裡會讓我們不舒服。」

HMUN2015會議的秘書長Ruth Kagan在1月31日寄電子郵件給中國代表團,說明會議手冊為何不需修改:

「哈佛大學模擬聯合國會議是按照每一位與會代表報名時自行填寫的國籍列出與會國家的,不做任何更動。將台灣列入名單絕非大會的政治表態,更與哈佛模擬聯合國會議的立場無關。

在此重申,會議手冊版權所有,未經書面同意,全部或部分內容皆不得以印刷或數位方式複製。」

不僅如此,就算台灣被列入各國與會名單之中,來自台灣的與會者仍然不算是正式聯合國會議的代表(其中一位台灣與會學生說,台灣被安排在羅馬教廷的位置上,沒有投票權)。但中國學生仍然不依不饒,他們表示無意與「台灣同胞」爭論,但主辦單位提到「明明不是一個主權國家」的台灣仍然是「不可寬恕的錯誤」。

隨後HMUN2015試圖作出讓步。大會副秘書長Louisa Carman在2月1日寄出電子郵件:

「您好,我們希望您在哈佛模擬聯合國會議的參與愉快!我只是要通知各位,你們若是需要『國家或地區』的貼紙貼在貴團代表的手冊上,可在今晚十二點之前到代表服務處領取。希望這能讓你們的與會體驗更加完善。還有任何問題或疑慮的話,請隨時告知。」

這還是無法滿足中國代表團。

「依舊沒有道歉,沒有聲明。」中國代表團其中一位團員寫道,接著是一長串針對美國民主及言論自由的冷嘲熱諷,由於中國代表團明顯遭受歧視對待,什麼民主人權和言論自由都是騙局。中國人受到歧視,只因為會議秘書長拒不允許他們歧視台灣人,好一套邏輯。

HMUN2015的主辦單位對這種狀況的處理,無疑是很明智的。他們既不屈服於愛國憤青的壓力,做出的讓步也不致妨害他們的誠信。但願我們能看到更多這樣的應對!

於是真正的問題來了:明年的會議手冊要怎麼寫呢?中國人長久以來削弱他人抗拒,並在不知不覺中將對方潛移默化的手段可說是爐火純青。下屆的會議秘書長會為了避免新一波衝突而聽從中國學生要求,在手冊裡改用「國家或地區」?還是會繼續堅持做對的事?且讓我們拭目以待。

96 Responses to “Chinese Delegates Go Ballistic at Model UN Event”

April 16, 2016 at 5:51 am, Jeff Liang said:

Taiwan and main land China are all part of R.O.C. Republic of China, period, Young Chinese and Chinese who call themselves Taiwanese should learn their history right. Do not deny your root just because you were not in the history making.

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