BEIJING, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Praising the "sweet and luxurious air" in the United States and recalling "having difficult in breathing" in her hometown of Kunming, one of China's least polluted cities, Yang Shuping's speech went viral on the web this week.
"Five years ago, as I left the terminal at Dallas Airport, I was ready to put on one of my five face masks, but when I took my first breath of American air, I put my mask away," said Yang, a graduating senior at the University of Maryland.
She continued to say that "the air (in the United States) was so sweet and fresh, and utterly luxurious," in the eight-minute video clip.
The video has aroused controversy among Chinese netizens as Yang described Kunming as a place "where I had to wear a face mask every time I went outside, otherwise, I might get sick."
According to statistics released by the city's Weibo account "Kunming Release," it was one of 10 cities with the best air quality out of 74 Chinese cities last year.
"I spent four years in Kunming, and I really love the fresh air and warm weather," said one Weibo user.
Another user wrote: "It is a fact that China has some problems, but she was too over-the-top. She may have earned applause, but not my respect."
Some netizens even uploaded pictures of the blue sky and blossoming flowers in Kunming, a well-known tourist attraction for its mild climate and year-round greenery.
Facing an unexpected controversy, Yang apologized on her Weibo account Monday, saying that she wishes to contribute to China with what she has learned abroad.
"I love my hometown and am proud of my country's development. I had no intention of disparaging my motherland," Yang wrote.
When asked about the commencement speech at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that any Chinese citizen should be responsible for the remarks he or she makes, and this applies to not only China-related issues, but also other issues.
"Many young Chinese students are now studying overseas. Their views and perceptions of some things may change and evolve after going abroad," said Lu. "But as long as they stand ready to contribute to their country, I believe the Chinese government will encourage, support and welcome them."
Yang's speech has also reminded people of He Jiang, the first Chinese student to speak at Harvard's commencement ceremony last year, winning praise both at home and abroad.
He began his address with an anecdote about how, when he was a child, his mother cured a spider's bite by setting his hand on fire. The experience made him realize the unequal distribution of scientific knowledge throughout the world.
Growing up in a poor village with no electricity and running water in central China's Hunan Province, He said that he hopes to use the knowledge he has learned abroad to bring villagers into the world that people living in advanced countries and regions take for granted.
A comment on Xinhua News Agency's Weibo account "Xinhua International" compared He's speech with Yang's, and called on young people to be responsible for their behavior and distinguish right from wrong.