Demand for a public apology from Joe Biden to all Penn Chinese students

In his commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania on May 13, 2013, 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.

Youtube link of Biden's speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q5LaYKUJ_w8#!

In his speech, Biden talked about how graduates should lead America in a time of uncertainty. When talking about challenges from China, he said:

I love to hear people tell me how to use the vernacular "China is going to eat our lunch."

China is a great nation, and we should hope for the continued expansion. But ladies and gentlemen, their problems are immense, and they lack much of what we have. We have the best universities in the world. We have a legal system that is open and fair. We have the most agile venture capital system in the world. We lead the world in innovation and technology, all for a simple basic reason. Steve Jobs, speaking at Stanford, was asked by a young man "how can I be more like you, how can I become like you?" And Jobs famously answered, "think different."

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.

If you agree to our claims and support our demand, please sign this form. We really appreciate your help!

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Below is a letter to Biden:

Dear Vice President Biden,

Thank you for spending your time and effort to give the commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania on May 13, 2013. However, as international students from China, we found your comments on China extremely inappropriate and offensive. We demand that you publicly apologize to all University of Pennsylvania Chinese students and their family members.

Penn is a diverse community. Of the 24,725 students, approximately 18 percent are international students from countries all over the world. Your speech, however, was intended only for American students. While we understand that you are the vice president of the United States, we expected you to speak as a wise elder willing to share his experience with every student on Franklin Field, including those who are not American citizens. We were disappointed. Not only did you choose to ignore the international community at Penn, you openly singled out and demeaned China in front of an audience of thousands. It was a humiliating experience.

Like any other student at Penn, we paid the same tuition and worked just as hard to earn our degree. Like any other student at Penn, we were eager to listen to a respected world leader speak at graduation. Yet we were told that we came from a country where we “cannot breathe free”, that we were citizens of a nation who “cannot think different”. Even if there is truth in your comments about China, commencement is not the time for such politically-charged rhetoric. Instead of encouraging international cooperation and progress, you portrayed us as obstacles that our American classmates have to overcome. Such unfriendly competition directly opposes Penn’s values.

We believe what you believe - that “nobody, no group is above others.” As international students, we are the minority in the student body. Nevertheless, we have the right to be respected and treated equally. By ignoring international students and criticizing China in your commencement address, you obviously failed to keep your words.

We demand a public apology to all Penn Chinese students and their family members. After all, commencement is an once-in-a-lifetime event for graduates of all genders, ethnicities, and nationalities to celebrate their academic achievements with families and fellow classmates. We ask that you save your nationalistic criticisms of other countries for your campaigns, not for an international audience.

Yours sincerely,

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