Thursday, 19 May 2011

How An Immigrant Nurse Became the First Chinese Mayor of Colchester

 Helen Chuah has become the first Malaysian Chinese Mayor of Colchester, UK. Prima facie, another ground breaking moment in 'British Chinese' politics following Thomas Chan, the first Chinese mayor in 2009.

However, I, BBCZeitgeist, find it rather perplexing how a humble immigrant nurse managed to become the UK's first female Chinese Mayor, in Essex of all places.

Historically, women have struggled for political reflective representation, currently there are 144 female MP's in parliament compared with 504 male MP's. Yet, in the European Parliament, 35% of MEP's are female, about half of UK Labour MEP's are female, indeed the only British Chinese MEP is female - Anna Lo. In a male dominated world of politics, how do British Chinese females compete on equal footing or in the case of Anna Lo et al, get ahead of Chinese men?

The five most high profile and successful British Chinese female politicians have much in common. With the exception of Mee Ling Ng OBE for whom I have been unable to ascertain any information about her private life, none of the other four Chinese female politicians were born in the UK nor are they married to Chinese men.

Helen Chuah, born in Malaysia, migrated to the UK in 1971 to work as a nurse, rising to a local St Anne’s councillor and the Mayor of Colchester. But how?

Its quite simple, she is married to the former Mayor of Colchester - Councillor Mike Hogg.
Helen Chuah with her husband Mike Hogg - former Mayor Of Colchester

Anna Lo, born in Hong Kong, a Chinese female Immigrant, the first Chinese to be elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly and the first Chinese born in Hong Kong (China) to sit in the European parliament. How did she do it? A very revealing interview here: 
"My family in Hong Kong are very wealthy, with maids and chauffeurs."
"My (White) ex-husband was political correspondent with the Belfast Telegraph so through him I met a lot of senior politicians."
Did Anna Lo raise her mixed race Eurasian children to appreciate her ancestral home - China?
Last year her oldest son Conall Hon Watson was arrested in London as part of protests over China's human rights abuses in Tibet. Former UK student of the year Conall, 26, helped preparations for the protest after abseiling down Westminster Bridge and hanging a huge Free Tibet banner.
Is that how she raises her son to love her motherland? Was she ashamed of her son's anti-Chinese antics?
"I support my son completely. I am extremely proud of him. It's important that people understand both he and I have nothing against the Chinese people but against the Chinese government,"
If there is one phrase that encapsulates anti-China Sinophobic diatribe on a par with "I'm not racist but...," it is ..."I'm not against the Chinese people, but I'm against the Chinese government."

Anna Lo's Favourite country? Clearly not China.
"I love the United States"
Who is Anna Lo's Hero?

"Aung San Suu Kyi"
Nobel winning political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi studied and lived in England, she married the late Michael Aris (White husband), before returning to Burma on a  platform of westcentric democratic human rights against her own country of origin. Sounds familiar?

Example 3,  Liberal Democrat Merlene Emerson, Singaporean Chinese immigrant is married to a White male of Jewish descent. On her blog, she said...
Just as some with Jewish or Germanic names had chosen to anglicise theirs in the last century, many of us have taken on names that help us fit in. I was happy to adopt my husband's name when I married.
Example 4, former Baroness Lydia Dunn - First Chinese peer in the House of Lords, is married to Michael Thomas, former Attorney General of Hong Kong.

In politics, nepotism and cronyism are part of the furniture, Helen Chuah's rise to political office is just another story of a self hating Asian female (immigrant) marrying very influential non-Chinese (White) men to get ahead.

Further reading:

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Mainland Chinese Give British Chinese a Bad Reputation?

British Chinese seldom make the front pages of the UK press, but with daily new developments in the Northampton Chinese murder investigation into the death of the Ding family, Anxiang Du has arguably become the most famous Chinese in Britain. Although there is a propensity for the western press to publish inimical articles on China and the Mainland Chinese, (i.e British Chinese crime related news reports  revolve around Chinese Mainland immigrants), it is doubtful Crimestoppers UK could be accused of racial bias too.

According to Crimestoppers, the number one most wanted criminal in the UK is Anxiang Du, he takes his place in Crimestoppers historic 'most wanted criminal list' alongside the 2005 London terrorist bombers. Should we congratulate him as the first Chinese to be made Britain's most wanted criminal? 

An xiang Du is not the only Chinese on the current Crimestoppers 'wanted list,' there is another Chinese, also of Mainland origin.

For the past decade, conceivably a legacy of the Dover lorry deaths, Mainland Chinese  criminal  activity has become a feeding ground for the British press, with new mainland immigration came mainland criminal activity - cannabis farming, money laundering, human trafficking, sex trafficking, indeed currently, alongside the Northampton murder case, there is also press coverage of the attempted rape of an Mainland Chinese illegal immigrant by a Mainland Chinese chef in Cambridge.

For Chinese crimes of a serious nature, both the criminals and/or the victims are overwhelmingly of Mainland Chinese origin. These crimes are perceived as Chinese crimes or ethnic underworld crimes - largely cloistered from non-Chinese British citizens, hence police appeal for information from the 'Chinese community.'

Is the British Chinese community no longer perceived as law abiding but harbouring criminals and dark secrets? Why should the Chinese community know the whereabouts of Anxiang Du? Neither police statistics nor the  press differentiate between third wave Mainland Chinese immigration or second wave commonwealth Chinese from Hong Kong - illegal or legal, they are all of 'oriental or Chinese origin.' Imagine the furore if a crime of sorts was committed by a Chinese Mainlander causing the death of an indigenous White British citizen, a media backlash is certain to ferule the broader British Chinese community.

British Chinese crime rates are renown for being low, however with mainland immigration issues at the forefront of western media reporting, does the British public still perceive the British Chinese community as law abiding? If mainland Chinese are responsible for the majority of crimes committed by the Chinese in Britain - are they tarnishing the reputation of the British Chinese community?
By BBCZeitgeist

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Hemdean House School Stonefaced By Yellowface Racism?

Can a school drama production of Mulan using Yellowface be considered racist?

A friend of a friend recently informed me about a Mulan show performed at the 'fee paying'  independent school - Hemdean House School Caversham, near Reading. The photographs show classic female racial drag and yellowface caricaturing, the pose, hands palmed together, bowing, dark eye make up accentuating the sides and edges to create slanted or slitty eyes, Japanese kimono's, cheongsam's, white pale face with red lips like a Japanese geisha, hence orientalist.

On the website of Hemdean House School, the Race Equality Policy references the Macpherson Report - the school aims to counter institutional racism...defined as
”unwitting prejudiced, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping.”
However, from the photographs of the school's Mulan production, Chinese people are represented by "Yellowface" caricaturing, isn't this an exact example of unwitting prejudiced, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping?

Can 'oriental' shows such as Mulan ever be performed by non-Chinese without falling foul of accusations of racism? Should these shows be performed at all by non-Chinese?

Note: A complaint was lodged at the school. They refused to comment.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Northampton Chinese Murder Inquiry - Daily Mail Style

A look at press bias in the gruesome homicide of the Mr Jifeng Ding and his Chinese family of four in Northampton.

Whilst most online newspapers fielded conservative non-speculative headlines, the Daily Mail however, this morning had this header:
"Wiped Out By a Triad Hit Squad - A Lecturer, His wife, His daughters"
Either the Daily Mail has extremely good criminal foresight or is just plain sinophobic, judging by its ongoing anti-Chinese agenda, its more likely to be the latter. After all, the British Chinese community are either Triads, caterers employing illegal immigrants, counterfeiters, sellers of deadly Chinese herbal medicine, or overseas students stealing industrial secrets from British universities.

When the news broke of business associate Anxiang Du as the only murder suspect, the Daily Mail changed its headline to
 'Time to say goodbye': The terrifying note left by businessman suspect in killings of university lecturer and his family.
However, the Mail's Triad section near the bottom of the article has not been removed, it's so large you cannot miss it...

Daily Mail is still praying for a Triad hit squad to assume responsibility for the killings.

Monday, 2 May 2011

No More Arts Council Funding For Yellow Earth Theatre

Arts Council England recently terminated public funding for UK's only East Asian theatre company - Yellow Earth Theatre. In response, two articles appeared on British Chinese website - Dimsum.

Both articles criticise the Yellow Earth Theatre for very personal reasons. Daniel York has a personal gripe with the theatre company after being turned down for the role of artistic director.

Paul Hyu's theatre projects Mulan and BEA had their funding cut in the noughties  whereas the Yellow Earth Theatre continued to receive public funding, hence the five paragraph stamping of his resume under his name as a form of childish cavalier bragging - "look at all my nominations, my work deserved funding not Yellow Earth."

Paul Hyu criticises the theatre company's orientalist use of  'Yellow,' yet this is the same man that produced a series of shorts on Channel 4 called the "Missing Chink," it received a spate of complaints from viewers, the complaints were not from the usual White liberal sensitive PC brigade, complaints came from the British Chinese community, from Chinese people, the very community he claims to represent, clearly he does not represent the interests of the Chinese community at all, he is mixed race after all, Daniel York too.

In the comment section of David York's article is a quote from the Guardian
"One from a mixed race Chinese actress who can't get a foot in because she can't play the role of White or Chinese."
Really? Mixed race have been purloining Chinese roles for decades. Look no further than David Yip, 'The Chinese Detective,' or should one say 'The Mixed Race Detective.' The 'Chinese Elvis'  himself, should be renamed 'The Mixed Race Elvis.'

What is the purpose of ethnic East Asian theatre? To appeal to White middle class theatre critics or to Chinese audiences?

Trot down to the hub of London's Chinatown and ask any random Chinese to name anything the Mulan or Yellow Earth Theatre has produced, you will receive blank stares, they won't have heard of either theatre company, but ask them to name the latest TVB drama in Hong kong, they could probably tell you.

Ethnic British East Asian theatre is hampered by linguistic and cultural indifference arising from the lack of homogeneity within British Chinese community, for example, a large section of the British Chinese community is highly Fobbish with an inadequate command of English, they have no interest in English speaking ethnic British Asian theatre that is overly western and targeted at a white audience.

So one begs the question, what is the purpose of fringe ethnic Chinese or fringe ethnic East Asian theatre if  it is not watched by the British Chinese community, the community  it claims to represent and serve?