ITV's Coronation Street has a new Chinese character - Xin Chiang played by British Chinese actress Elizabeth Tan, she is the third Chinese character to appear on the soap after 'kae lae fae' fish n chip's shop owner Mr Wong played by Daryl Kwan in 2005 and Jasmine Choong played by Lucille Soong in 1969 http://coronationstreet.wikia.com/wiki/Lucille_Soong
In consideration of the programme's efforts to promote Manchester's under represented Chinese community, Weatherfield's newest Chinese character could not have been portrayed in a more negative light. Xin is a Chinese restaurant worker on the verge of becoming an illegal immigrant courtesy of a expiring student visa, she plots a sham marriage to her friend's White boyfriend in an attempt to stay in the UK. Only a non-Chinese could have drummed up such a cornball storyline that reads like a press statement released by the UK Border Agency. If Mr.Collinson's agenda is stigmatic racial stereotyping of the British Chinese community, at least interject some counterfeit DVD's.
The problems with her character are profuse, where exactly did she get off the boat from? Mainland Chinese account for most Chinese sham marriages in the UK, but she bears little resemblance to a mainlander, her persona is strikingly South East Asian. Indeed, her name Xin Chiang, 'Chiang' is not a mainland name, hedge your bets on Singapore, Malaysia or Taiwan. Regardless of her origin, her character is supposed to be a FOB, but listen to her accent. (Watch segment 10:19 - 11:40) .
At the start, her 'un-fobby' accent is unmistakably British middle class, it sounds remarkably like Myleene Klass, but towards the end - "we must get it right or we'll all suffer the consequences," it breaks out into Fu Man Chu.
Xin is aged 24, but how many sham marriages in the UK involve 24 year olds on expiring student visa's? From past experience of working in catering, students who overstayed their Visa did work in Chinese catering establishments, but this was over a decade ago, it is doubtful students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are still following their predecessors, although one cannot be certain about Malaysia. Today, overseas Students from the Far East tend to be very middle class, many are so wealthy they don't need to work to support their studies, sham marriages are certainly not required, those who are desperate can simply depart for countries with less restrictive immigration laws.
As attractive as Xin is, a Wendy Deng she most certainly isn't, if She was uber-smart, she would marry legitimately without the need for a sham marriage and then petition for divorce, not only would she avoid paying the sham marriage fee but take half his assets too. Or alternatively, she could find herself a nice British Chinese male instead, but this is verboten in the western media, attractive Chinese women are portrayed as either prostitutes, wives or girlfriends for White men, surprise surprise...Elizabeth Tan previously played a prostitute in Hotel Babylon. Xin's character has been introduced in Corrie purely for the benefit of a White audience.
The storyline reflects some of the more contentious topical immigration issues that have been avidly covered by the British press of late - detected sham marriages in the UK have reportedly risen from 282 to 934 in the last 4 years.
The most memorable story is that of an Englishman who tried to marry off his mentally ill sister to a Mainland Chinese national, he himself was already married to the Chinese man's sister in a previous sham marriage. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8426289.stml
Not to mention the continuing demonisation of the British Chinese catering industry through the UK Border Agency's publicised raids on Chinese catering establishments. http://bbczeitgeist.blogspot.com/2011/03/british-chinese-takeaway-racism-uk.html
Whilst the aforementioned immigration issues provide fodder for soap opera scripts, the current Chinese storyline in Coronation Street is racist, misleading and irresponsible in suggesting Chinese students are widely abusing the student visa system, rather students from the Indian sub-continent are the main culprits, the UK government suspended student visa applications from Pakistan last year and Northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal earlier this year.
To write a complaint to ITV: http://www.itv.com/contactus/itvcomfeedback/default.html
Written by BBCZeitgeist (British Born Chinese blogger) http://www.bbczeitgeist.blogspot.com/