A Chinese professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan has sparked controversy after a video surfaced of him pressuring a Taiwanese student to change his place of origin from “Taipei, Taiwan” to “Taipei, China.”
The professor, Chen Zhen, is seen teaching through a Zoom call in English when he suddenly explains that he will speak with a student, identified only as Wang, in Mandarin.
Chen then explains in Mandarin that he noticed that Wang had written his country of origin as “Taipei, Taiwan” on his dissertation paper and proceeds to lecture the student on how “Taiwan belongs to China.”
“What I want to say is that first, the entire EU, including Italy, believes that Taiwan belongs to China,” Chen tells Wang, according to the video translation. “You should know that no EU government, including most countries in the world… no EU government officially recognizes Taiwan as a country.”
Chen then continues to explain that the Taiwanese government does not constitute “an independent Taiwan” and that China’s constitution states Taiwan is “only a province, not a country.”
The professor goes on to claim that his lecture directed towards Wang remains unrelated to his thesis or grades, explaining that he felt compelled to say something “as a Chinese.” Chen then insists that he is not trying to bully or “mistreat” Wang, saying he hopes to have an “exchange between people.”
After listening to Chen’s lecture, however, the student made the decision to change his country of origin from “Taipei, Taiwan” to “Taipei, China” on his paper, titled “A Comparative Study of Iranian Gardens and Chinese Gardens.”
The Taiwan representative office in Italy has sent a letter to the university defending the rights of Taiwanese students, and the school is now conducting an investigation into whether Chen violated teaching ethics.
Gianni Vernetti, Italy’s former foreign minister, tweeted that he believes Chen should be suspended for teaching Chinese propaganda, while Senator Lucio Malan tweeted that he believes the incident is an example of “re-education of Taiwan students by Chinese teachers.”
Ascoltato il video, il senatore Lucio Malan (FdI) ha preannunciato che chiederà conto al governo della vicenda, e anche l’ex sottosegretario agli Esteri Gianni Vernetti (Pd) ha chiesto la sospensione del docente al Politecnico. https://t.co/psrItZen50
— 说真话的徐某人 (@xumouren_yt) March 28, 2022
Docente cinese del Politecnico di Milano (Università statale), durante la lezione, “rieduca” – in cinese – studente taiwanese perché non indichi Taiwan come stato di appartenenza ma scriva Cina. Chiederò ragioni al ministro https://t.co/AyggLnRCYC
— Lucio Malan (@LucioMalan) March 27, 2022