Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Chinese Xenophobia

I mentioned in an earlier post that I think the Chinese are, as a rule somewhat racist. I guess I should clarify. They are not any worse in many ways than say people from the US or Canada But, in some way they are much worse.

If you are not ethnically Chinese the locals call you a "Gweilow" which is literally translated "Pale Devil" unless you are of African decent and then they call you a "Soy Sauce Chicken." You don't want to know what they think of Indians or people from Pakistan. Try designating entire groups of people by such derogatory monikers in the US and be prepared to loose your shirt in court.

The Chinese used to consider themselves "The Middle Kingdom" While it is true that they thought of this in terms their nation being between Heaven above and Hell below it is also true that the term meant that they considered their culture to be the center or the most important on Earth. The 19th century Imperial powers dissabused them of this notion but it is still an undercurrent in modern China and Hong Kong.

Could you tell a blatantly racist joke in an American church? Try this one and substitute the word "Caucasian" or "white" for Chinese. It was told by a Chinese pastor from the pulpit while he talked about why Chinese were superior to Westerners.

When God created humans he formed their bodies and had to cook the clay before they would live. So he heated His wok and filled it with oil. He then placed the first man in the oil but cooked him too long and he became the father of the Black race. He then placed the second man in the oil and didn't cook him long enough; he became the whites. He then cooked the third man the proper amount of time and he came out a beautiful yellow-brown and was the father of the Chinese. So, you see we Chinese are the only people who were made perfectly.

The people in the Church service where this was presented laughed.

Maybe I am too sensitive. But I do not like to be called a white devil or compared to undercooked doughnuts.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Ethnic Minority Blogger


Beth Danae said...

OUCH, that joke is definately in poor taste, whether he was serious or not, it conveys a message that I don't think is right...

I really try hard to not see skin color when looking at a person, it shouldn't affect how they're treated.

But it seems us ex-pats aren't allowed to acknowledge that we are treated differently here. I know I am and it's not positive...

Qe2 said...

I believe we are born racist. It is just another form of competitiveness expressed through some sort of insecurity. Racism isn't only against different colours, credes etc. but can even be expressed against "northerners" and "southerners" of any particular country. As we become more civilised and inclusive, it is a trait we all agree is not nice and through behaviour try to remove it from our make up.

Still, at the end of the day, whilst the quoted comments may well be in bad taste to your ears, us whites, or whatever label we care to use, in HK are an ethnic minority - now we know how minorities in our home country's feel? Probably not as we are treated very well on the whole here I think!

Fai Mao said...

QE2 is of correct. And, I should have prefaced this with a clearer reference to my prevevious post about the Handover day parades and one of the reasons that I did not march that day.

There are elements within the pro-PRC groups in town that will say that the effort for universal sufferage and a more responsive government are simply a way to continue the colonial and imperial influence. These group will play upon the national Jingoism present in the Chinese population.

I do not know how large this group is but I have talked to them. I don't want to give what I see as the forces of an oppressive reactionary government ny excuse. Thus, I felt it better if I not walk that day.

Incidently, the joke was told in a Chinese language church in Austin Texas. I didn't hear it here.

As my stunningly beautiful, intellegent, tollerant, well educated, successul, hardworking, and 100% Chinese wife tells me often, I shouldn't have much complaint about anything Chinese including my 1/2 Chinese children.

Thanks for your comment

phil said...

Very interesting post, Fai Mao. I think it's what anthropologists call "ethnocentricism" - a feeling that one's own people/ race/ culture/ group are naturally superior to others.