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Chinese students voice hopes for Mideast peace in rare public political stand

Chinese students voice hopes for Mideast peace in rare public political stand
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A high school graduation tradition in China has taken a rare political turn this year with some final-year students expressing solidarity with Palestinians and a wish for peace in the Middle East.

It has become a custom in recent years for Chinese media to ask students who have just finished the national university entrance exams, known as the gaokao, what they wish for.

This year’s hopes included the usual desire to get into a dream university, have game companies improve their video games, and attend a concert by a favourite singer.

But a number of short videos posted online also showed students voicing support for Palestine.

By Monday afternoon, the final day of the exams, many of the original posts of media interviews with those students were no longer available on the Chinese version of TikTok called Douyin, the WeChat video channel or the X-like Weibo.

It was not clear why the original clips had been taken down but those reposted by individual users were not deleted.


What is the gaokao? A look at China’s daunting university entrance exams

What is the gaokao? A look at China’s daunting university entrance exams

On Douyin, a compilation video of the wishes of students from across the country included a picture of a student who walked out of an exam venue in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang on Sunday wearing a Palestinian flag.

The video was liked, commented on and shared thousands of times.

Another video, originally deleted but reposted by a blogger on the WeChat video channel, showed two gaokao students in the eastern province of Jiangsu being stopped by security guards after walking out of an exam venue – one with a Palestinian flag and the other with a Chinese flag – on Sunday.

In the central province of Henan, a textbook publisher posted videos of interviews with students after taking the exam on its WeChat video channel on Saturday. In one of the videos, a student was asked about his graduation wish and said loudly in English: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

The video has not yet been removed, but comments are not allowed.

While the students’ support for Palestine is a rare example of public political expression, it is one that is consistent with Beijing’s official position.

Relations between China and Israel have been strained since the Israel-Gaza war started in October.

Beijing has not condemned Hamas for its October 7 attack on Israel but has criticised Israel for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.




Beijing has said consistently that a two-state solution, which is a proposed framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, is the only way to resolve the crisis.

Throughout the eight months of conflict, Chinese social media users have been broadly sympathetic to the Palestinians.

However, Chinese students in the United States have kept their distance from the pro-Palestinian protests sweeping US campuses for fear of the possible fallout from being involved in a political protest, according to an earlier report by the Post.

The gaokao is widely regarded as the most important set of exams in China because it is the gateway to a university and career of choice.

According to the Ministry of Education, 13.42 million people registered for this year’s exams, which started on Friday and ended on Sunday in most provinces, with a few others wrapping up the tests on Monday.

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