Friday, 25 November 2011

British Born Chinese trip to North and South of China part 2

Interacting with the locals

As a non-mandarin speaking BBC, It's common for us to experience all kinds of prejudice from getting confused looks when Its found out we arent mainlanders/locals... to English teacher job interviews where a white english teacher is chosen over us native English speakers....just because he is white( and some cases English is not even his native language).
One specific incident I experienced was in a 7-11.

Typically, after 2 weeks in China I was used to having shopped for my groceries, with no problem, typically handing them to the cashier and wait for her to tally the cost waiting for the bill to be given to me, but on this occasion she asked me a question, which may have loosely translated into something like ' do you need a bag' and when I replied ' wo ting bu dong' she started laughing and started muttering under her breath to her friend sitting beside her,in disbelief, no doubt probably thinking that this Chinese guy infront of her was making a joke, that he didn't understand.

In retrospect I should have followed up by asking her ' ni shur yin wen ma? ( do you speak english) ' but that would in my eyes would've exposed me as a being an overseas Chinese and i guess idealism and mainly wanting to save face overcame the reality that my Mandarin is very basic apart from a few words and some basic vocabulary, that isnt up to conversation level just yet..

My other experience was when was taking the train from Beijing to Taiyuan.

A ticket inspector asked me for my ticket and I showed it to her. What I didn't realise is that when I got back to my sleeper,  she was still following me. My friend who was sitting on my sleeper spoke to her and then told me that she wanted my ticket - and thought that because I was walking away from her, I was mentally unstable! 

But on the whole, I don't think the discrimination was that bad - to be honest, my experience with Canto FOBS in the UK tend to be worse due to their directness, and in my experience they make it damn clear when they look down on your comparitively rusty Cantonese.

In Guangzhou too,I had similar problems, although again,mainly avoided partly because of my mainlander friend accompanying me spoke Mandarin and partly because a lot of the communication can be achieved through body language and basic Cantonese.

Even the Beijing hotel receptionist who werent used to dealing with non-mandarin clients,  by the end of my second week  had gotten used to me speaking only English and showed appreciation when I made a basic effort to communicate in Putongua.

For obvious reasons Mainland Chinese dont really take too much interest in your problems as a BBC, but thankfully, most problems can be overcome by having a basic understanding and self expression of putongua and obvious body language. And since arriving back to the U.K. , I've resumed my Putonghua lessons seriously  so hopefully these kind of language problems won't happen as much on my next trip. We shall see.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Hapas, Fobs, And The Agenda To Socially Engineer The Identity Of British Born Chinese

'Oh the racism we white hapas endure ..British Chinese will never understand'

On reading this blog recently, I found this comment:

'Invisibility is the result of the Eurasian agenda stealthily pushed through using the Chinese platform squeezing out/rendering the ethnic Chinese Invisible'

In the U.K. however, due to the relative insignificance of British Chinese as a political voice, it does make one wonder how Hapas tend to get the voice in the media - and always half white Chinese as opposed to half black Chinese.

Traditionally, Hapas are quite defensive about racism towards Chinese, but being Hapas their stance is typically skewed and based in self-interest than actually promoting any genuinely researched British Chinese political concerns.  Some notable examples of our current media representation:

Madam Miaow, actress/comedian, complains about various racist issues, but she is herself a Hapa, and despite expressing genuine concern about how Chinese are seen in media and politics,unfortunately plays up to the  hypersexualised oriental female stereotype to boost her own career, to the point that any feedback or support she gets tends to be from her budding white male admirers than any member of the British Born Chinese population who can take her seriously.

Paul Courtenay Hyu - look at this video of the missing chink a 2003 made for tv segment commissioned for Channel 4.

In it's desperation to be part of the  90's hip, devil may care naivety there is a lack of specific racial understanding, that Channel 4 are all too willing to commission.

That a small scrawny Chinese guy is cast as playing the farcical clownish elements, whilst the tall Hapa gets all the thoughtful lines smacks of deliberate mis-casting. Of course, it's without question that the program probably wouldnt be made without his consent, but it's debatable with a title name like 'missing chink' and moments like the line, when the girl appears in the restaurant, at 2:34 he deliberately makes a point,'ill think you find she was looking at me'

Again this is subtle insinuation that his colleague, the small, Chinese guy is less fanciable then he, a hapa.

Gok Wan is another obvious example. Gay, campy, refers to us as Chinks, and refers to his childhood as miserable, often not stating his pride to be Chinese at all, when mentioning his half-Chinese ethnicity.

In British media, its amazing the privileges that Hapas get to play the race card, the minority card, AND the white establishment. Genetically in the western world hapas have the best of all worlds, and it is this line of thinking that one cannot blame Chinese women to take the easy way out for social acceptance.

Half white Chinese and the media role they play in dividing the British Chinese people against each other are the product of clever white imperialist social engineering.

Again this is not a personal attack against hapas but it is a direct attack on the way that the exceptional presence of white hapas have been used , wittingly and unwittingly for the following functions:

1. To represent Chinese or British Chinese in the media.

2 To render the ethnically Chinese invisible.

How do you render a Chinese invisible? By 'creating' their representation  without actually giving them any real representation.

A sinister plan of ethnic cleansing big media-style on behalf of the white establishment because:

1. they can say that British Chinese are represented
2. having been represented, British Chinese have less need to complain, and so remain invisible.

The fact that white hapas are representing the voice in the uk along with FOBS ( who serve the white imperialist agenda of orientalism), this is double security for the white establishment in preventing the Chinese from actually having a media-voice. And the cycle perpetuates as we British Born  Chinese are apathetic towards such a state of media knowing that they are outnumbered by both Hapas and Fobs that we just don't bother representing.

To the white establishment having HAPAS represent the chinese community is a triumph of social engineering, because in almost every situation, for a half-white Chinese, the white gene almost always be seen with higher regard than the Chinese one. That is until that person enters Chinese territory, and instantly , like a Chameleon, he becomes a Chinese.And an eagerly welcomed one, because after all, aren't half-white Chinese much better looking than Chinese men?

Clearly it's a mistake to allow HAPAS, despite their best intention to really represent the British Chinese community. Because when you look at their achievements...what has really been achieved for us? For all the shows, plays and musicals starring HAPAS and FOBS made since maybe the 1980s ..apart from all the money that has swapped hands in the process of creating a colorblind or murky social identity....has any of the artistic work created really benefited the British Born Chinese community in any way?

The exact problem of making too much peace with China's original western oppressors may be the price we have had to pay for enjoying the comfortable life of living on this little island.

Truthfully western  assimilation has divided our own British Chinese community to the point that:

1. British Born Chinese are quizzed by FOBS for not speaking chinese well , or at all
2. Hapas who if they have a Chinese father, tend to know their homeland language, but don't take interest in British Born Chinese issues , and are quite happy to play up their role of being the white majority puppet.
3. FOBS don't speak English well enough, and if they do, are out of touch with the British Born Chinese lifestyle, and are too busy playing up the exotic 'Oriental' agenda that the western establishment love.

But the ultimate irony here is that for the original Chinese ethnics who should have a political voice and are born in the UK – the British Born Chinese – are in fact ranking at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to British ethnic representation, and have had any representational power of being British Chinese snatched away from us by our own community!

What is the solution for the above? Again, this blog represents a practical opportunity. Sign up now with a google ID and let's start hearing your opinions.

Monday, 14 November 2011

British Born Chinese visits North and South of China - Part 1

Entering Beijing

Well I've just gotten back from a one month trip in China, and travelling from Beijing to Guangzhou on a 23hr journey by slow train and getting in touch with my families cultural roots, and what a great experience it was.

My travel itinerary was Beijing for 7days,during Chinese holiday week in the first week of October then Guangzhou for 7 days and then Beijing for another 7 days. The first thing that comes to mind in staying in Beijing are the following: stand up toilets often with no toilet paper( bring your own), lots of people, crazy queues esp when waiting to board a long distance train, and beggars.

To be honest for the first week I wasn't too fond of being amongst Beijing people and my first experience of stepping on a bus and having to stand because there were no seats and a loose window rattling beside my head threatening to crack and cave in whilst the bus driver was hooting every second wasnt a good start, but by travelling with my mainlander friend, the trip managed to transform from one of hate and unfamiliarity into one of love, and that now im back in the dismal U.K. i can't wait to leave and go back.

Course living there in the long term would no doubt raise it's own set of issues but having travelled from North of China to South then back up to North again ( I didnt get to visit the middle but will do some point later) I can safely say that North is where I feel i fit in the best.

Fitting into the crowd

Being a BBC who has had little contact with the east, for me there's a huge difference between talking about being Chinese on the blog and having discussions about FOBS and BBCS and actually being in China and when you get here just being surrounded by so many Chinese, to me such arguments are considered obsolete.

 Despite lots of reports of mainlanders reputed to have messy and disgusting habits,  I didn't really experience anything of the sort. In fact, for me the best thing was just queuing up with the people and seeing their smiles and pride in taking photos in front of Mao. I mean where in the UK would you see so much patriotism? Would even an English family visit Buckingham palace on a holiday? London is pretty much a tourist area for European tourists, brits tend to stay in or do other things.

The only negative experience I can recall is when I was pushed aside by a photographer who was taking photos of a family, I guess maybe he was a hired hand by the look of his professional camera equipment. Granted his rudeness pissed me off, and when it happened again( !) but at a different photo spot , i wanted to say something but thought probably best not to.

The only other bad experience I had of the famous Chinese queue barging was when I was queuing at a weighing machine in a Guangzhou supermarket on a hot day.  Naturally being first in queue, I handed him my Chinese pears when, a small woman pushed me aside-  kid in one arm, bag of apples in the other - completely ignoring me. Then i tried again - another woman appeared -quickly shoved her bag of mushrooms infront of me. So this was starting to piss me off. Then low and behold on my right a small woman appeared - bag of fruit at the ready. So this time I gave her an retaliating stare. She backed away and I managed to get my Chinese pears weighed.

In retrospect its easier to say ' ah that's China' but compared to the horror stories I had heard before getting here,, I'd guess that people are getting more mannered.

For the first two weeks, I was accompanied  by my mainlander friend and in the first week in Beijing  with his friend from Mongolia visiting Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, was a great experience. Visiting these tourists sites, yes, but specially being amongst the people.

Whilst the west is in decline, China is on the rise, and to be part of that felt great,  as nothing swells the Chinese pride than being stuck in a crowd of happy , grateful mainlanders who are queuing up to have their photo infront of Mao's portrait, and you definitely don't feel as a 'minority' as you'd normally feel as a BBC in the UK.

For now, as much as the quirks that take some getting used to, like the Beijing taxis hooting all day long outside your hotel, the constant spitting, ... the errs and aars of the Northern accent, all I can say from my first experience my nationalist pride was reinforced and Beijing made me feel quite welcome. 

Monday, 7 November 2011

Does Age Affect Our Potential To Develop Our British Born Chinese Identity?


Chinese always seem to have an obsession with age.  'I ought to get married by this age' ' I ought to be a millionaire by this age' But when it comes to traditional customs, the times of respecting our elders and indeed anything of an older culture seems to be slowly vanishing.

In China this can apply to the huge aging population in China in 'opposition' to the huge younger ( 10-30 )population that may in advertantly be responsible for China's current but inevitably slow 'westernisation' ( read increased materialistic values)

Then back to our British Born Chinese culture, having scoured the posts of British Chinese Online and have come across  viewpoints that our elders are a burden, and anyone over the age of so and so is seemed as 'invalid'

So with the kind of modernist attitude that one treats a fellow Chinese in the same way that one may also view an out of date PC hardware, have the younger made more progress when it comes to a BBC political movement or is the big fuss about being young in Britain just mean 'survival' in an economic recession?

The following assumptions about British Born Chinese in the UK based on a middle class mindset and being British Born Chinese, and I have also used the following westernised generation terminology z, y and x , to categorize.

  1. Under 20s-early 20s. Gen z. Still learning about life, mature mindset for a young age, possibly easier circumstances and experiences with a stronger base and lots of British Born Chinese/Chinese friends, with extreme swings of being serious minded about career to those who still finding their way and enjoying life and not so serious about developing a political identity. Big family support. The most time. Quick adapters and learners but also growing up in the worst of economic times.
  1. Early 20s-early 30s. For whatever reason I call this the transition group, also known as Gen Y. with the economic period, probably struggling more with economic issues than cultural/political issues. Again some are more successful than others, id say either falling into high paid jobs, out of work, in between jobs. Still supported by family in some cases. Less free time.
  1. Mid 30s to early 40s. This is the gen x group. Career established, some maybe still job-hopping. Mostly have sold out to the white-assimilation mindset and settled down, some with kids. Many still single, typically in high paying jobs, or at least in a relationship of some kind. Probably some family support. Hardly any time.

  1. Mid 40s+ settled down, not interested in activist / bbc identity issues or if are, probably in a vocal minority with academic / career links to such issues/interests. Well established career, if single, then quite happy, if with family, than also quite happy. This generation coming of age in the 90s have seen the most opportunity, and taken advantage of it. Little family support, typically supporting parents, rather than other way around. If happy settled, and comfortable ots of time, if not, then little time because too busy juggling kids and work.

So what is my point with the above assumptions?

Well, firstly I wanted to distinguish us from the immigrant Chinese, or first gen, who also obviously fall into the above categories

Secondly, as can be seen from the above list, age already determines the interest/ impetus to follow up issues whether as an artist, or sharing opinions in a considered manner.

Of course, it's easy to say that the younger generation ( late teens – early 20s) are the future and any older too old, but too old for what?

It's been interesting to hear feedback from one younger reader who corrected my article, that indeed, younger BBCS are much more integrated in British schools, although she did mention that maybe her school was possibly a one-off.

The question that i'm wondering the most here is – does your age affect your ability to develop your British Chinese identity ? Do you have friends of a certain age , who because of falling into the above categories, have little time for certain things as thinking about political issues or a British Chinese community...because of their age? Do you agree that age determines your lifestyle/mindset? And obviously from personal experience, what your thoughts are on this, maybe referring to other people as examples if you don't want to talk about yourself.

One obvious advantage of youth is to challenge authority and create new ways. So if that is the case....where are the up and coming new voices for our British Born Chinese cultural change?