Joe Biden, In Commencement Speech, Says The Chinese Can’t “Think Different,” Plus Other Regrettable Things

Winsome goof Joe Biden, giving a commencement address at the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania on May 13, delivered a few China barbs that probably shouldn’t have come from a US vice president.

“It was a humiliating experience,” Chinese citizen Zhang Tianpu, a graduating Wharton senior, told SCMP. “And how can a graduation speech be this political?”

Some of Biden’s more borderline comments:

“Their problems are immense, and they lack much of what we have… (America has an) open and fair legal (system)…

“You cannot think different in a nation where you cannot breathe free; you cannot think different in a nation where you aren’t able to challenge orthodoxy, because change only comes from challenging orthodoxy.”

About Xi Jinping:

“He’s a strong, bright man, but he has the look of a man who is about to take on a job he’s not at all sure is going to end well. I mean that seriously.”

Oh, you mean that seriously? Really?

Zhang and company have drafted a letter to be delivered to the university president demanding Biden’s apology. As of Wednesday, according to SCMP, it had 343 signees. It reads in part:

Vice President Joe Biden openly demeaned China and Chinese citizens in front of hundreds of Chinese students and their families. As international students from China, we found this part his speech extremely inappropriate and offensive. We demand that he make a public apology to all Chinese students in Penn.

Biden will probably have his intern draft up an apology, sign it, and all will be forgiven. He knows the drill.

Chinese students demand Biden apologise for ‘insensitive’ comments (SCMP, h/t Alicia)

44 Responses to “Joe Biden, In Commencement Speech, Says The Chinese Can’t “Think Different,” Plus Other Regrettable Things”

  1. Amanda R.

    “You cannot think different in a nation where you cannot breathe free; you cannot think different in a nation where you aren’t able to challenge orthodoxy, because change only comes from challenging orthodoxy.”
    This is why the Chinese government practices censorship, to control the thinking of the people. Not sure the comment belonged in a commencement speech, but he isn’t wrong. These students seem to have forgotten what life is like in China during their years in American schools. They are pretty lucky to be able to criticize and demand an apology from the Vice President. When they get back here, let them try that with Wen Jiabao and see how far they get.

    Reply
  2. prophetfraud

    Had a Republican said those things the American press would have had a field day addressing such inappropriate comments. Instead, and even from BJC, we get descriptions like “winsome goof.” He should have asked the recent graduates which problem they would rather deal with, pollution or guns.

    Reply
    • Anthony Tao

      >> Had a Republican said those things the American press would have had a field day addressing such inappropriate comments.

      I dunno, the liberal media’s not exactly in love with China.

      Reply
  3. Chackie Jan

    So offensive what a US VP says in the USA. Should we go over remarks in China? Not that we can demand an apology without getting deported.

    Reply
    • Chinese Netizen

      Do Chinese CCP “leaders” ever even speak at Chinese universities offering encouragement to graduates and confidence for their future?

      I guess they only allegedly chat with taxi drivers and hand out notes instead of tips.

      Reply
  4. btravers33

    Dear Chinese Students at UPenn,

    I sincerely apologize that I criticized the lack of free speech and human rights abuses imposed on you by your government. Just a reminder that your visas will be expiring. Best of luck back home.

    Sincerely,
    Joe Biden

    —————————————–

    I don’t get it. Its like an entire nation with Stockholm Syndrome…..

    Sure, the US government has so many flaws at this point, it is a total joke, but that isn’t even the point. A group of people should think twice about defending those who abuse them. Its about the message, not the messenger.

    Reply
    • fucknsuck

      Uh, yeah, you’re right. Americans aren’t abused at all by the fuckers who have robbed them blind. China is the only truly corrupt government, but hey, at least they execute their white collar criminals which is something the US could learn from.

      Reply
    • Jonathan Alpart

      I dont get your reaction. “Your visas will be expiring?” I know it’s a joke, but what are you implying? Shouldn’t we be thrilled that a Chinese got to exercise his right to free speech? Great, he’s demanding an apology from the Vice President, something he could never do in China. Exactly. So why the hostility?

      Reply
      • J Biden snr

        He’s not criticizing Zhang’s right to free speech, he’s taking issue with the content of what he said and the reasoning behind it, thereby exercising HIS right to free speech. Just as you and I are doing now. As you said, it IS a joke – lighten up dude. And the Stockholm Syndrome simile is particularly apt – hell hath no fury like an overseas Chinese student (esp. cadre spawn) when the motherland is scorned. As someone has already pointed out in the SCMP, despite his 4 years in Penn, Zhang seems to have got his 民族 and 国 confused regarding Biden’s use of ‘nation’ – hence the prickly reaction to what he saw as aspersions cast on his 5K years of ancestors. Goofy Joe’s target was the somewhat less aged CPC.

        Reply
        • Jonathan Alpart

          I don’t see anything wrong with what the student said. Accurate or not, what Biden said was inappropriate. How would an American feel if he was studying abroad and the commencement speech was about drone strikes and Guantanamo Bay? It’s asinine to make critical political statements in that setting, especially about a nation/people/whatever that makes up a significant part of your student body.

          Reply
        • Dan

          Ya, totally… when I say “Americans are all stuck up self-centered pieces of shit whose death would be the best thing ever for the world”, I’m not talking about “White people”, or “Americans from a few generations ago”, I’m talking about all americans at present.

          Reply
      • btravers33

        Yes, it was a joke, the implication being that if this student is so defensive of the Chinese government, perhaps he would prefer that Biden implement a few CPC tactics. Anyway, that is not important. More important is what this student is doing by exercising his right to free speech. By doing this, he is basically shooting himself and any other citizen who desires human rights in the foot. Why? Well, if I were a citizen under a totalitarian regime, I would like it if other governments (however flawed they may be, as long as they weren’t more totalitarian than my own) criticized my government and put pressure on them on the international stage to start cleaning up their act. whatever the intentions were, genuine care, political reason, whatever, it doesn’t matter. What matters is they are keeping the spotlight on an regime that doesn’t respect human rights. Now this student has gone out in public demanding an apology and basically told the CPC, hey, how dare anyone speak poorly about you, I defend you and accept what you are doing. Whatever your opinion of the US government, this is just stupid and a result of nothing more than blind nationalism. Unless, of course, he doesn’t like freedom of speech, which given his actions would be ironic. If there is a story about the US doing something f’d up and people want to badmouth the US government, that is cool, I will probably join in as I agree a lot of what they do is messed up. Corruption isn’t mutually exclusive and just because other governments are also corrupt does not make it OK for China, or any other country. So, my apologies for the long winded response, but I just don’t get what this student is trying to accomplish. No hostility, just bewilderment with his actions.

        Reply
  5. wafflestomp

    Boo fucking hoo. He spoke the truth. Most international students are there because their families have raped and pillaged the Chinese enviornment/exploited Chinese workers.

    “You cannot think different in a nation where you cannot breathe free; you cannot think different in a nation where you aren’t able to challenge orthodoxy, because change only comes from challenging orthodoxy.”

    100% accurate.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Alpart

      Do you think the same thing about wealthy people in the West? Just curious.

      All wealthy Chinese got their money from drinking blood, but good ol’ Westerners earned it from honest work and strong character, amiright?

      Reply
      • King Baeksu

        There you go again with your irrelevant false equivalencies: China may be a corrupt kleptocracy, but Western countries (read: America) are corrupt kleptocracies, too, so therefore you have no real leg to stand on. Is that about right?

        Let’s do some simple comparisons. When George W. Bush was US President or Texas Governor, did his wife Laura Bush manage any American SOEs, and in so doing become a multimillionaire herself? Did his immediate family accumulate nearly $3 billion in wealth during his tenure in the White House? And what about the family of Obama? Does he have any sisters or other relatives who have made millions by virtue of their proximity to his office, like the sister of a certain princeling who currently holds high office here in China?

        Here is an interesting quote:

        “As the state enterprises grew, China’s share of world trade rocketed to 10%, corruption flourished, and Party members got rich. Citing Bloomberg data, Mr. McGregor notes that the “wealthiest 70 National People’s Congress members are more than 10 times richer than the top 660 officials in the U.S. government.”

        “The enterprises themselves, meanwhile, crowded out private competition. SOEs account for about 96% of China’s telecom industry, 92% of power and 74% of autos. The combined profit of China Petroleum & Chemical and China Mobile in 2009 alone was greater than all the profit of China’s 500 largest private firms, Mr. McGregor writes.”

        Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444549204578022710399534602.html

        Wait, the above quote about the wealthiest 70 National People’s Congress members can’t be right, because according to Mr Alpart, the US government is just as corrupt as China, right?

        And the entire premise of the following article can’t be right, either, according to Mr. Alpart:

        “The Chinese Kleptocracy Is Like Nothing In Human History”

        http://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-chinese-kleptrocracy-works-2012-6

        There is no doubt that corporate and banking interests have captured government institutions in the US, but simple campaign reform would go a long way towards remedying the problem. In China, on the other hand, it is the entire system itself from top to bottom that is rotten to the core, and no amount of relativistic gobbledygook is going to change that basic truth.

        Sorry, champ, but you’re going to have to find a better way to try make yourself feel better about the country you currently live in and the people you work for.

        Reply
        • Jonathan Alpart

          You’re way off base here. I’m not making a false equivalency. Consider the quote from Zhang Tianpu:

          “Vice President Joe Biden openly demeaned China and Chinese citizens in front of hundreds of Chinese students and their families. As international students from China, we found this part his speech extremely inappropriate and offensive.”

          All I did was replace what Biden said with controversial aspects of the American government. Nowhere did I say they were equal in comparison with China in their absolute badness, a concept you have so thoroughly illustrated. I’m talking about inappropriateness given the setting, NOT contrasting the sins of the two governments.

          Since we’re on this topic now, though, your fallacy is comparing Chinese politicians’ wealth to that of American politicians. That ignores the fact that our political/economic systems are not the same. THAT is a false equivalency, my friend.

          In China, politics and business are quite the same entity, but in America they are different. Obama has little sway in the business world, yet Chinese leaders are the opposite. If you compare American *businessmen and companies* to Chinese politicians, I’m sure you’d find numbers that match up much better. How much profit did Apple make this past year while paying zero in income tax?

          How many senators go on to be lobbyists and “consultants” after they are no longer in office?

          The fact that Chinese are more successful monetarily in exploiting their power for financial gains doesn’t make them dirtier/worse than Americans; just better and smarter at playing the game. Do you imply American banksters and cronies are making less money because they are that much more moral? No, it’s because the American boom ended a long time ago, and there is less and less available for them to exploit compared to the vast riches of China.

          Doesn’t the invasion and occupation of Iraq based on lies set off alarms for you in terms of blatant, brazen and colossal corruption and disregard for human life?

          Also, using George W. Bush as an example is completely odd. Again, he and his friends may not have made *as much* money as some Chinese, but to pretend that he wasn’t doing the exact same thing is completely disingenuous! The Clintons and Obamas have held or currently held seats on the Wal-Mart board. The story of the Bushes wealth involves weapon contracts with Nazi Germany. What about the revolving door in White House administrations and Wall Street? Do I need to continue?

          “Sorry, champ, but you’re going to have to find a better way to try make yourself feel better about the country you currently live in and the people you work for.”

          Don’t you live and work in China, too? Stop projecting crap on me. What haughty illusions do you hold about your own existence here and how you feed yourself? Does your salary come from some clean, magical fund untouched by the government? Don’t you work at a university? I can’t wait to hear this explanation…

          Reply
          • King Baeksu

            “All I did was replace what Biden said with controversial aspects of the American government.”

            Wiggle, wiggle. I think you need to reread your response to “wafflestomp,” which in turn was what I was responding to myself.

            “Do you imply American banksters and cronies are making less money because they are that much more moral?”

            No, what I directly wrote, not just implied, was: “There is no doubt that corporate and banking interests have captured government institutions in the US.” Evidently that is not plain enough for Mr. Alpart, but it’s probably clear to just about anyone else with a decent grasp of English.

            “If you compare American *businessmen and companies* to Chinese politicians, I’m sure you’d find numbers that match up much better. How much profit did Apple make this past year while paying zero in income tax?”

            Wow, Mr. Alpart just claimed that Apple and other major American corporations are equally as corrupt as the CCP. Can we see some figures and statistics, please? Sorry, but assertions are not arguments.

            “Don’t you work at a university?”

            Yes, I do, a government-funded one, to be precise. I offer an alternative point-of-view to thousands of graduate students, many of whom will be the future elite of China. Some of them have even told me that they appreciate what I have to say. Imagine that.

            Still, I only live in China six months of the year, and will probably be moving elsewhere soon once my research here is finished. There’s a wonderful wide world out there, and China is hardly the beginning or end of it.

            Happy trails!

  6. SeaHorse

    Well I actually went to a Chinese university for awhile, so I can say it’s not entirely true. More like the educational system doesn’t encourage learning not dealing with memorization. The school I went to went as far as getting foreign professors in to teach them how to teach.

    You don’t really need democracy to be originally actually, I’m saying this as not only an art student but someone who likes the contemporary Chinese art scene. Let’s put it this way, the giant ducky in Hong Kong Harbour, the artsiest thing in HK not designed by a Mainlander I’ve ever seen. It was an italian. Though HK nailed down cinema and fashion pretty well they fall behind on painting and sculpture, even in the abstract political bullshit category. I mean when they write books about East Asian Contemporary Art, HK is pretty much not in it unless it involves resellers. In terms of ingenuity in non-creative-oriented-industries I’d say Jack Ma founder of Taobao. Taobao, is the #1 reason to stay in China for me.

    Then again we Canucks think America is full of a bunch of hicks and we’re so much smarter than them and generally more educated just because we beat them en generale in statistics. Then again I heard Fins had higher graduation rates so that might not be saying much. To be honest I get appalled whenever Americans say anything about education or freedom or honour. Again it’s because I believe we of the True North, Strong and Free believe we are the best North Americans around.

    Reply
    • Ander

      “The school I went to went as far as getting foreign professors in to teach them how to teach.”

      Somehow, I’m quite sure that’s not why they had them in. More like ‘window-dressing’.

      Reply
      • SeaHorse

        They were accredited teachers who stayed for awhile just to run the workshop to teach the teachers the western method of art education.

        Plus the one course they did teach to STUDENTS didn’t give out any credits.

        Reply
      • SeaHorse

        Trust me, I know a lot about window-dressing, and this wasn’t what this what. These people actually had to do something and put together a curriculum rather than sit there and stand pretty like most foreigners in teaching positions.

        Also this was in conjunction with a well known European school of design and no good design school would stretch it’s neck out so the Chinese can have more white furniture. Believe it or not, not all Chinese school are scumbag places that hire white people for the hell of it. Especially when they actually do have an international reputation to speak of.

        Reply
    • Jonathan Alpart

      “To be honest I get appalled whenever Americans say anything about education or freedom or honour.”

      Of course; It’s all blatant anti-China propaganda from a declining empire. And look: we’ve all fallen for it.

      Reply
    • btravers33

      Canada is a great country. One thing I always wondered though: If you guys truly are the best, why do all your anti-US rants reek of an inferiority complex? Also, check your geography, Canada is part of America also. We all know what you mean, but if you are going to brag about being better educated, you should at least learn to pay attention to the details (geography, grammar) so you might actually have a chance of proving your point, as opposed to contradicting it.

      Reply
      • SeaHorse

        Perfectly honest, it totally does. But I’m just saying, to Canadians, this story sounds funny.

        And you know what I mean by when I say America. Wow a spelling mistake. Someone confiscate my humanity license.

        Reply
  7. King Baeksu

    What, Zhang Tianpu and friends are lambasting another wicked white guy with their PC victimology?

    How original. Perhaps they’ve been in America a little too long for their own good.

    Reply
  8. pug_ster

    Well, Biden is half right. Chinese can’t think of ways of killing off civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Libya. The Chinese are not innovative enough to think of ways to kill off people in using drone strikes and then the President of the US comes in and laud about it. The Chinese are not innovative enough to form protectionism against China in terms of economics because they don’t want companies like ZTE, Huawei and many other Chinese companies to compete in the US. The Chinese are certainly not innovative enough to lend their support to anybody who are against China like Ai Weiwei and the Dalai Lama. In short, China is just not innovative enough to kill off a few million innocent people and think that they are right.

    Reply
    • Can't remember my username

      LOL.. What are you, pug_ster, Super Wumao? Don’t put yourself down so much, it was pretty innovative to mass-murder 40 million of your own people during the Great Leap Forward. But that’s OK because it there’s a new government in Chinja now. Oh wait.. no there’s not, just a continuation of the same murderers that came to power 50 years ago.

      Keep fighting the good fight, Super Wumao… Jiayou…

      Reply
      • RhZ

        God not this loser. Cue the fightin 14th Wumao squad. Building China’s soft power one stupid comment at a time.

        “Our brutal political system is ok because America did something bad once!” Fill in the form…type: false equivalence…and send. Cha Chang!

        Go back to the WSJ where you might do some good and you can play with your friends. Round these parts, you will just get laughed at for being an idiot.

        Reply
  9. j Biden Snr

    Ah Pug_ster! The name that launched a thousand troll fests. How are you man? Tell me, honestly, do you do anything but trawl China related blogs to spew the party/rabid Chinese nationalist line? I’m in awe of you dude, you must never sleep – or work. Is it welfare? Or those cheeky little 50c checks from China? You ARE still living in the country you hate so vehemently I presume?

    Reply
  10. King Baeksu

    “The Chinese are not innovative enough to form protectionism against China in terms of economics because they don’t want companies like ZTE, Huawei and many other Chinese companies to compete in the US.”

    I’m sure Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Blogger and Google would agree.

    Reply
  11. maxim

    Who does a slave hate most? It’s not his master, it’s a freeman that mocks at him. Zhang is such a slave, and he wasn’t even aware of it.

    Reply

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