The United States and China have a long-standing history of feuds. As the world’s two largest nations, in many different aspects, the countries now feud over trade, technology, military standings, and advantages both in outer space and cyberspace. But given their ties in trade and business, the battle goes beyond mirroring a cold war. Recently, a Chinese Ambassador appeared at Harvard University to give a speech, and his presence and lecture were berated by some.
Huang Ping has been the consul general of China’s New York Consulate for nearly four years. Last Saturday, April 16th, the Chinese Ambassador attended Harvard Universities’ 25th annual Harvard College China Forum inside the ivy league’s Business school. His speech was presented as a celebration of China’s efforts to construct a “great modern socialist country.”, but given the consulate’s past remarks, his speech was initially met with plenty of distrust.
In the past, the Chinese Ambassador has been said to tenaciously defend and support the Chinese Communist Party. Fox News reported on the matter and brought up past comments made by Ping over the last few years. At one point in time, Ping appeared to have denied the existence of the genocide perpetrated by the government against Uyghur Muslins in Xinjiang. “As I said, there’s no genocide, not a single evidence to prove that there’s a genocide or something there. It’s just a slandering,” he said in an interview in August 2021.
For nearly a decade, the Chinese government has been accused of mass genocide of the group. Incarcerating millions in internment camps, separating families, and damaging properties, it has been described by the US Government and even the Holocaust Museum as the largest-scale imprisonment of a group since World War II. Furthermore, the Chinese ambassador called the accusations “lies…fabricated by some people with their own political agenda.” He even spoke of the internment camps that forced young children from their families as being educational.
Regardless of his past comments, the Chinese ambassador went into the event at Harvard with a pursuit to unify the two nations. But even in doing so, his words struck bizarre with many. Within the speech, Ping called on Americans to be more “tolerant to diversity.” Further cementing where Ping stands, he called upon US citizens to avoid fanning the flames of the feud between the nations. He even called on the US to restrict support to Taiwan’s mission for independence from the Communist party.
Even with his controversial words, Huang Ping did his best to relate to American citizens. Citing ties to China through cultural references like the Eastern nation’s love for things like Hollywood, Disney, and even Starbucks, to historic milestones like former President Richard Nixon’s 1971 visit to China, the Chinese ambassador’s words might have landed largely on deaf ears. According to reports from Yahoo, the majority of attendees at the event were Chinese students attending Harvard.
Despite the Chinese ambassador’s intentions, his presence at the university, along with his attempts to further align American and Chinese citizens together comes at a time when many Chinese Americans and Asians, in general, have been targeted throughout the U.S. Fueled by government tension, and a xenophobic fear that began with the onset of the COVID pandemic, an alarming increase in hate crimes targeted towards the group has rattled the nation. Whether Huang Ping is actually doing something to fix that or make matters worse, is questionable.