Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Is Our Chinese Nature Too Conservative?

 'Is that a pig-taxi up ahead? How rather stylish - let's try it'

Britain has set the standards for the world as a class-orientated country. Middle class are a dying breed, working class heroes such as footballers, x factor celebs, tend to be lionised, and the Upper Class are enjoying their lives. The class structure plays a relevant part to both British Born Chinese lifestyle, but in general you will see us in the middleclass to upper class lifestyle...and around the whole world emulating the western elitist structure but is it to a fault?

To arrive in England as an immigrant and start a new life, traditionally Chinese people have worked very hard to achieve this, and as a result we have been rewarded with the model minority status which we all too willingly accept.

Chinese are usually quite good at saving and investing and the kind of things that it takes to survive and even thrive in times like these. And as such, the more comfortable one is with one's life the less he or she is likely to care about developing cultural issues such as politics or art, or things that will progress our cultural development.

Now when you take Chinese pragmatic attitude towards life,  lack of progressive thinking, our inward looking nature, middle class status,  AND add that to the western economy that is crumbling to bits, and a possible second home in Hong Kong or China as a get of jail ticket... you get model minority perpetual foreigners, who despite our high income lifestyle ( or supposed) still havent created any progressive movement in culture or Chinese pride that we can be proud of.

Where the west has traditionally set the rules and standards, with China now becoming a global economic power to be reckoned with, Chinese are having to compete with western standards of progression, technology, arts, to make up for the lost time, and its something that China needs to be doing more of and what we overseas Chinese, who with our freedom of speech and self expression  need to do as well.. but with a quarter of a billion of the worlds population...why isnt the incentive to openly express our pride there?

Chinese always seem to adopt western standards in almost everything as a bar to aspire to, so that we never seem to want to develop our own uniqueness or spend the necessary time to develop our own unique artistic voices..and why not?

When you add up all the high desire to assimilate to white culture -  the high interracial marriage, the imitation of western snobbery ( or desire to escape our own culture for more perceived privileged status of white society)  the hypocritical crabs in a bucket mentality of criticism amongst ourselves paradoxically contrasting to our blatant white-worshipping mentality, the general apathy towards racial identity politics...and in effect losing an opportunity of doesnt make for a strong identity, nevermind a lack of interesting personality.

Our identity seems fragmented without considerable innovation and our culture is just 'exotic' and backwards looking and irrelevant to modern times, our technology still too 'copycat'. And despite reading the reports of how China intends to create unique ideas and brands, but are just copying the west so they can learn from sorry but until I see proof, nothing will persuade me otherwise. Part of this copycat culture only feeds the racist 'they all look the same, act the same, to me' attitudes that the west adopts. And yet this glaring hole in our cultural identity is still, after all this time, something we choose to forsake!

For all the above reasons, the chance for Chinese cultural development is now. But you try telling that to the Chinese owner of a sweatshop or poorly made fake furniture in China. Or even Hong Kong filmmakers who have lost sight of quality of filmmaking and forced to adopt China's bland censorship policies, do Chinese film censors really ban quality filmmaking as well or is it just coincidence that the majority of films coming out from Hong Kong and China are crap?. Materially we are thriving , so why arent we progressing culturally?

Are we not able to evolve or are we  stuck in a time-machine of perpetual copy the west til we are dead, crank out more mind-dead weak-plot films? Are we incapable of innovating? Or have we gotten too comfortable in our material excess? Where is our Chinese spirit?

And as long as we continue to act like 'animals' out to survive or thrive - whether working class animals or elitist animals emulating a western high class, then without a higher humanistic spiritual purpose, we will always be culturally labelled by the west as second best, no matter how materialistically well off we become and as a result, as usual,we will just plod along like zombies waiting for someone else to take up the mantle.


  1. Like I said in the riots post, orientals have much to be proud of the way they conducted themselves. The Chinese simply do not promote themselves enough, especially when they ARE the race on top... you can bet that if whites were the only race not to riot, there would be streams of comments coming in saying "we're the greatest, we are the only civilised race in the world" blah, the Chinese have a great opportunity to promote themselves as the bastion of civility amongst the hordes, yet they do the predictable "stay quiet" routine. A wasted opportunity.

  2. The whole reasoning to why we have such a lowly status in society - despite being the most productive - stems from this seemingly inherent behaviour of ethnic Chinese. Our passivity has allowed other races to exploit and basically walk over us, despite them being in a worse off position than us initially. THEIR arrogance is winning through our actual work, a very real and tangible (and respectable) trait.

    And it's not just BBCs - it applies to all Chinese and China, around the world. Take China, their militarisation. The world and his cat his bitching about this, how they should be nuked, etc... now take a country in a similar situation - India - rapid militarisation. You critique the Indians on something, even as irrelevant as certain cultural practices or a sporting event, and they take everything to heart - and unleash fury. On American, British, European websites - they go on the attack, defending their honour, accusations of racism - basically going over the top, refusing to back down from their pride. As a result, over the years Westerners have been far more reluctant and passive towards India (especially compared to China) and its operations, however suspect they may be.

    But the Chinese and China? Might as well have open season on them - it's not like they're going to fight back in any capacity, are they? Maybe one or two lone defenders like me and you, who will quickly be dismissed as "paid by the CCP" and thus ridiculed. Indeed, every Chinese I know who has stood their ground are ridiculed by whites, even blacks and asians, for doing precisely what they would do given the situation. How are we supposed to reverse this lack of status in world, let alone British society, when only a few of us care enough - or even REALISE what the situation is really like?

  3. @ anonymous 20:20: 'wasted opportunity' is right. its like the whole world is watching us Chinese for our next move and we dont have it together. we need more leaders who can lord it and show our pride, but those of us who have 'made it' are just 'making more', and those of us who have less,just want more. are we really just going to celebrate our wealth and then pass it onto our grandchildren without showing our uniqueness? its like our mentality reaches a point..then stops. in a strange way its also laziness. but call any self respecting Chinese lazy and they will make you eat those words.

    @anonymous 20:57. Thanks for the comment bro. You should get a google ID so we can have more dialogue on here, im sure BBCZ would encourage that.

    Doesnt matter how we disagree or have preferences as individuals. the main thing is we all have the same goal of developing and openly expressing - our pride - and express that in anyway possible, art music politics .

    On a strange note, and no im not biased, i think Beijing has the right idea. Hu has recently expressed a 'happy policy' for people. Cheesy as it sounds, this is along the right idea. We know Beijingers have the aloof stereotype, but i think when you combine the optimism of the north and the sceptical but good-at heart attitude of the south, China will have united its yin-yang. And for us BBCs with our freedom of speech we already have a head start. We just need to be more expressive and vocal, and demonstrative that we dont take racist shit, whether its in the media , or from that nob across the street . The amount of Asian American youtube celebrities is testimony to this. If enough of us speak out,even blog about it, the others will catch on. Look how many hits this blog has already had, considering how new it is, BBCZ already caused a huge shake up in the British Chinese community, in his success in pissing people off and i bet a lot of people who visit this blog but dont leave comments are rethinking their brainwashed attitudes. Anyway cant stay quiet forever esp with our motherland taking centrespot. no way!

  4. Firstly, Can I just make it clear that this article was written by happybritishchinese, not myself.

    I agree it was a missed opportunity, but you cannot promote passivity as headline news, that is the crux of the problem. 'Passive' vs 'pro-active,' which one is going to make the newspaper columns? Being passive does not make headlines, merely the Chinese as a silent invisible minority that doesn't appear to be interested in any socio-political issues nor engage in their community/communities.

    Although as you say, there were no Chinese that were reportedly directly involved in the looting/rioting, however...they were NOT proactively mobilising themselves against the looting /rioting in the same manner the other ethnic tribes managed to and in the process received a lot of positive press coverage for their community spirit, communal pride, bravery, tribal banding in the face of adversity etc. Ie. Sikhs in London protected their Sikh temples, the EDL protected their 'white patch,' Asian Muslim community in the North such as Birmingham protected their businesses and their mosques during Ramadan...suffering casualities in the process. So where were the Chinese then? Chinese were just being passive as usual, that is NOT something to write about. If anything, it shows Chinese people to be outsiders and cowards who don't want to pro-actively get involved.

  5. I noticed that too, Chinatown London (don't know about Manchester) was badly looted, however I did not hear of mass gatherings of employees and the community.

    However, there is a fundamental belief around the world, or at least in western media, that "good" violence should be praised against the bad violence. Whereas the Chinese do neither, essentially meaning peace and stability... but peace is boring, so it is better to have a "yin and yang" approach that makes good news headlines... the FORCES of good against the FORCES of bad. Either way, violence wins.

    It is not surprising to hear that this has happened before - the LA Riots of 1992, when blacks specifically targeted Asian Americans (mostly Korean Americans) simply because they had the cheek to work hard and set up shop.

    Recommended reading:

    even Ice Cube released a song, Black Korea, a few days before the shooting, which effectively encouraged the looting and burning of such stores... along with the usual mistaken identities between asians and racial stereotyping - quite rich coming from blacks...

    My point? We must be extremely wary of aggressors - whatever the race - because, as mentioned in the wiki article re: LA riots, and as we have seen with the police here, they cannot be relied on for anyone's security, let alone the least supported minority in the country. We may also be wise to take several pages out of the Korean-American book on unity - resistance groups formed up, employees took patrols to protect their livelihoods. Of course the big difference was that in America they had legal use of guns, which probably saved many lives.

  6. There are hardly any Chinese here, and they all live so spread out!

  7. Im thinking of writing an article on 'British Chinese Organisation'. We are an varied mix of international students ( like the malaysian student on the riot video) , london chinatown.

    Its a big task. I mean reaching out, explaining to them the need to create an organisation to fight racism and stuff like this, where as the above poster says Chinatown was looted, maybe that could be an incentive, and we would take such a group seriously.

    However im sure we need two bases - London and Manchester, as where the two main chinatowns are these are also the highest population of BBCs

    Its kinda thankless and time consuming task, but i think we need some form of organisation.

    and then advertising- youtube videos? that seems to be an effective start. but then we'd need some good actors and camera equipment. and content that speaks out similar to the articles on this blog.

    as far as practical help, if chinese cant see each other as being there for each other, in times of stress, then its just like the wild west.

    @anonymous of 12/08 21:08

    Korean americans are different. Firstly racism is a big issue in USA as it was a land stolen and formed on the blood of native indians. so in that sense it was created in the name of racism, so people make big issues out of it.

    Secondly Korean americans see themselves as a minority, when you compare this to Chinese americans, or even British Chinese, we dont see ourselves as a minority because we are ( for all intents and purposes) still connected to our motherland which is a quarter of a billion strong.

    Compare that to indians ( colonised by brits with rulers that are white worshippers) and blacks ( colonised by brits , slavery etc), we are the 'lucky' ones.

    Thirdly, in my opinion, having been invaded and miliatarised bases in Korea set up by americans, Koreans are more cherishing of their culture whilst Chinese have never been defeated. Which is a good thing, but as we can see here is also a bad thing.

    Also we are too independent for our own good, and for the most, good out of keeping out of trouble, so in a sense speaking out would 'create trouble' for us.

    Its an odd one. Majority mindset, inwardly expressive. keep out of trouble. Apart from a massive rehaul of the chinese consciousness i cant think of any other solution.

    And as the delightful Kai says above we are so few and so spread out, which poses a geographical /numbers problem...

    I dunno if anyone has some practical solutions id love to hear some.

  8. ^ unfortunetly China has been colonised before.

  9. ^ learn your history and change that awful pink sweater.China has NEVER been colonised.

  10. "Secondly Korean americans see themselves as a minority, when you compare this to Chinese americans, or even British Chinese, we dont see ourselves as a minority because we are ( for all intents and purposes) still connected to our motherland which is a quarter of a billion strong"


    Speak for yourself. I definitely see myself as a minority, and Chinese Americans, and British/European Chinese certainly do as well. In America there have been families spanning several generations in America - they are more American than many white Americans. Same here with the British Chinese, 2nd or 3rd generation now. We may still have "connections" (i.e. family members who we rarely talk to) to the "motherland", but for many ethnic Chinese our place is rooted in Britain, America etc forever.

    Maybe that's the problem. Why dedicate yourself, fight your corner, to a cause that has no relevance for you? After all, you can just "go back" to wherever you are from, a nice safety net, especially with rising prosperity in the East compared to the slow decline of the West. Racism and status as a minority must be rather low on the agenda for some Chinese with weak roots here.

    I know many ethnic Chinese who have suffered racism. Unfortunately, when they are a recent immigrant, they do nothing about it, or put little effort into solving the issue. Conversely, the British Chinese, or long term immigrants who have roots here, at least the ones I know who have suffered from racism, simply concentrate on their career/family. They don't have much time or energy left to support the ethnic Chinese community at large, certainly not for the long term. I include myself in this.

    Solution? Work less? But then we ourselves will fall into the poverty trap. Group together? 33% of British Chinese live in London, and they still can't organise an effective grass roots resistance/protection for the community. What hope do the rest of us have in the more spread out areas, where we are essentially on our own.

    There is a large presence of British Chinese (and other ethnic Chinese in non-China countries) forums online, but all (but America, as far as I know) have failed to drum up enough support to establish something unified and robust enough to protect and promote our rights and status in the country we live in.

    While our goals, as individual Chinese "units", maybe to advance our careers and financial status as best as possible is admirable, I can't help but think that it could only end in tears- history has shown us that successful minorities tend to face violent extermination or repression sooner or later - think the Jews throughout Medieval through to modern Europe; the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia from the 60s (read the May 13 incident, leading to the race riots there) all the way to now - where openly discriminatory policies exist to suppress the wealth of productive Chinese to give to the poor, less productive Malays - East Timor (again, racial violence against Chinese people because they were "rich"), and of course America with the LA riots. Maybe our downfall is to concentrate too much on the success of ourselves and our families, rather than our community as a whole?

  11. You know another thing we are crucially lacking? A meeting place, a HQ where all ethnic Chinese can gather. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Indians, Sikhs have their places of worship. Whites have pubs. Blacks have the streets (literally). The religious places are afforded charity status, and thus get government funding and protection - as a result minimal finances are required to keep them going, and thus allow the group to meet regularly.

    The closest we have are Chinese community centres, those run down, rat infested tiny shitholes you see right next door to a rowdy pub or nightclub on a dangerous road. The perfect spot to launch an attack on us, rather than protect us.

    So we need buildings of charitable status to gather, safe from others and a place of refuge for those escaping from torment. Yet most of us have no religion. even the Korean Americans are mostly Christian - there are many exclusively Korean churches scattered across the US. Now, I'm not saying we should convert to a religion just so we get our very own meeting place... but you get the idea. We have no long term properties for communal purposes, just our own homes/takeaways/businesses.... the exact same places where we are attacked.

  12. @happybritishchinese: Hong Kong and Macau has been colonised before so you learn history. Anyway the UK is not suitable for Chinese ppl to grow up and live. We should move to Vancouver etc.

  13. @Kai: HK was taken from the brits as part of losing the opium war but returned in 1997 handover, macau was returned to China in 1999 after being ruled for 442 years by the portugese. China, as a country, was never colonized, western countries simply seized bits of it

    I have cousins in Vancouver so can agree that there is more of a concentrated population there, but a densely populated region of Chinese can also lead to events like this one :

  14. @anonymous 6:03 and 6:13

    Some really great points. if you dont mind, Based on your comments ive written another article that i need to get approved by the boss, but once its up, ill try address your issues and set them up for discussion. Please get a google ID, regular opinions like yours are important.

  15. @happybritishchinese: There are racists in every race and country but at least Vancouver is voted the best place to live in the world. I've never been there before but it might be much better than London. There should be a website to judge which city or country is the best place to grow up in/live/work for a Chinese.

  16. does anyone know which restaurants and supermarkets were looted in london's chinatown during the London riots 2011 uk?

  17. The Chinese Community centre's are basically Chinese Association meeting points, they are invariably FOB associations run by middle aged FOB Chinese women, attended mostly by OAP FOB Chinese women, it simply doesn't cater for BBC's nor Chinese males at all. This falls back on initial problem itself, there is no BBC community.

  18. Actually I think a better terminology is 'Conformism'. There's a famous saying; 'the nail that sticks out get hammered down', it's a Japanese proverb but I think it also describes the traditional mindset of Chinese people very well. It has to do with the Confucius values that's been placed upon the Chinese society in the past 2000 years. Unfortunately modern day Chinese are still being held back by this mentality.

    China at the moment is more concerned with stability of economic growth, that's why the government kept emphasising the so-called 'harmonious society'. Which is understandable but the restrictions and censorship is doing itself no good. It's sad because there are a lot of great creative thinkers in China that are shut off since they don't comply to the Communist Party's notion of a 'harmonious society'.

    Us BBCs should consider ourselves to be lucky that not only we're free from restrictions but also being exposed to two different cultures, for better or worst. We are also fluent in the English language and better educated than our parents or recent immigrants. We need to realise that our community have a lot of potential and capability to exceed if we can put all our minds and resources together.

    BTW good post happybritishchinese, hope to read more from you on here.

  19. BBC Ronin, if thats a google ID you are signing in, thanks hope to see you more regularly. I totally agree that we have all the advantages but we dont make full use of them. And i have absolutely no idea why. Please also check out my other article 'Organising a new mindset for British Born Chinese' - it tries to put forward a positive case for developing our culture. If Asian Americans can create a youtube culture, why cant we? We have this blog to voice support for others and shared experiences with the anonymousness of our google Ids. We arent living in China, so we dont need to adhere to confucianism. Theres no restriction - the skies the limit. Theres literally nothing stopping us from creating a new subversive /alternative culture or actively speaking out against racism or injustice. And yet we choose apathy, invisibility or the nattering housewife forums.And I have no idea why.