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US university investigates flyers advertising ‘ethics classes’ for Chinese people

A series of flyers posted at a Texas university accusing Chinese people of unethical behaviour and advertising ethics classes for them have sparked condemnation and outrage.

The anonymous flyers were seen in buildings at the University of Texas at Austin in April, and advertised a “special class to teach Chinese more about ethics.”

university texas austin

Photo: Facebook.

“Did you know copying someone else’s intellectual property is actually stealing their work and it’s against the law?” the flyer asked Chinese people. “We know it isn’t bad in your culture.”

“Did you know faking yourself and your skills, when you are applying for a job or graduate school, is against the law?” it continued.

“Did you know burping and farting are unethical? We know they aren’t bad in your culture, Oopse!”

Social media outrage

The flyers circulated this week around both western and Chinese social media networks, leading to an outcry in some quarters. “This has seriously touched the bottom line of civility,” wrote Facebook user Vivi Chen.

“Americans should return their land to the indigenous people before they have the right to talk about ethics,” wrote Weibo user Benshuangzi.

University of Texas Austin

The University of Texas at Austin. Photo: Guðsþegn via Wikimedia Commons.

Some had a different view, however. In reference to the unethical behaviour that the flyers accused Chinese people of committing, Weibo user Mawenwubin wrote: “They’re right. I don’t feel this is insulting, it’s widespread.”

On Monday, the University of Texas at Austin issued a statement condemning the posters, and said it was taking them down.

The university said it was seeking information about was responsible, and had referred the incident to the Office of the Dean of Students for investigation in accordance with its Hate and Bias Incident Policy.

“I am grateful to the scores of UT [University of Texas] Austin students who reported these posters swiftly,” wrote university President Greg Fenves. “Their response shows deep respect for their fellow students.”

Fenves wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the administration had identified the student who may have been behind the posters.

The university’s Student Government and Chinese Student Association also issued a joint statement on Tuesday, saying that the flyers were “hateful and ignorant.”

“These posters do not represent Chinese culture or traditions, nor the UT students who so proudly honour their country and heritage.”

US university investigates flyers advertising 'ethics classes' for Chinese people