Friday, 6 January 2012

British Born Chinese in Beijing Part 4

British Born Chinese Trip to North and South of China Part 4

George Clooney, Modernisation and Chinese Culture

Having experienced Guangzhou's development, my last week back in Beijing opened my eyes to modernisation. I visited an exhibition of new and up and coming artists. Here I felt artists were experiencing a forced cultural transition from 'old'ie traditional Beijing culture to 'extremely new' and finding unease.

  People of china sucking from the teat of the communist cow.
Artificial future that could collapse like a tunnel of plastic chairs ?

In a western style cafe I met a young 20ish Beijing female artist and the topic landed on Chinese culture. When asking her about what the government are doing to promote Chinese culture, she told me ' I don't even think the government themselves know what Chinese culture is.' I took a look at her work she showed me on her ipad - all western artist influenced. A naked woman being sexually devoured by an octopus with penis like tentacles. I asked her where she was going to study next, and she revealed she was eager to go New York to Study Sculpture. I could only nod in sad agreement thinking 'we've lost another one'.

White Minorities

It's not such a major issue but what I did notice was the amount of white people at one of the exhibitions, ironically the Summer Palace, which was besieged several times and burnt down by westerners, and a considerable amount of tourists.

Hows it feel to be the 'minority' now ?

 'Read: where the allies invaded...'

Read:'destroyed by Anglo French Allied forces...'

White Guy/ Chinese Girl Couples

Several times, amazingly in Summer Palace and at the Forbidden City, two places that were besieged by allied imperialists, I saw these Chinese girl White guy pairings, and some white guy taking photos of his Chinese friends, who amazingly were all female.

It didn't help that my mainlander friend is unhealthily fascinated with white people, and so in a tourist resort full of Chinese, I somehow found myself surrounded by white tourists.

White Advertising

The big 12 X 18ft George Clooney watch poster in Wang Fu Jing shopping district, and the interracial ad with GC and a Chinese girl on TV didn't exactly help my wishes of wanting to see a less white worshipping China, and nor did this George Clooney commercial which was doing the rounds on Chinese TV at the time:

And if there's any compensation, I did actually see a white skin cream bus poster next to an energy drink with a pic of a Black man. So maybe Beijing is focusing on international relations. Sorry I don't have pics of these, you'll just to have to believe me.

On the whole, Beijing with it's TV, tries to emulate the US with its new found 'freedom'. The intro to the tennis opening, noticeably showed only white sports players, and indeed most of the participants were white (Polish etc ) but there were Chinese players - so why no Chinese players on the opening program intro?

Winner: Modernisation or westernisation?

My thoughts during my second week were mixed. On one hand it's clear that people are happier, but at the same time whilst the younger generation are on the way to and from work, the more affluent older generation are just grateful for what the government has done.

 Millionaire hutong owners

For most however, from the street peddlers selling bracelets, hats, and all kinds of trinkets just to make a living, to the taxi driver who took me from the railway station to the hotel who I just sensed had a pretty tough life... I can't help but feel a sense of emotional disparity. Its feint, but its noticeable. Like I said before, It's a great place, but being culturally sensitive to my fellow Chinese, I feel that only those who can afford to stay, stay in Beijing and those who cannot, despite having residence here are forced to become homeless or struggle to maintain their new standard of living.

Historically China's whiteworshipping can be seen as a case of Chicken or Egg. Sun Yat Sen fought for modernisation but now CCP seems desperate to westernise, but in reality whatever cultural offering they have from 'investing in innovation' to ' making museums free' to 'building another cultural centre' ends up in mass disinterest. Bit watching like a senior citizen learn how to breakdance. You know he wants to show you he can, but he's 50 years too late and its painful to watch.

Bottom line: unless the people have real freedom and not the illusion of freedom, culture will continue to embarrass.

I have heard some things about Shanghai, which I havent visited yet, so I will reserve judgement for when I visit, but in comparing Beijing and Guangzhou, I'd say Beijing is more apparent in it's whiteworshipping maybe because it's much younger in it's adoption of modernisation.
Despite demonisation by the west, we BBC'ers are still lucky to still have such a great motherland, which is more than I can say for the other countries that have been pillaged by Imperialists.

But regardless of modernisation, as a BBC and a  Chinese ethnic 'minority' in the west,  I'm grateful for having a homeland that is thriving and growing. Just a shame that when I arrived back home I got withdrawal symptoms for at least a week and a half . But that's the way it is. Can't wait til my next trip out there again.


  1. A naked woman being sexually devoured by an octopus with penis like tentacles....

    What a nice open minded girl she was to show you that. btw, the tentacle stuff sounds its influenced by jap culture, not western culture.

  2. Yeah get ready for the trendy multicultural worldly FOB takeover in the west

    Whether China develops into something uniquely progressive or just becomes the united states of China remains to be seen. Probably the latter.

  3. The biggest mistake... which is still happening - is the link between modernisation AND westernisation, and with that, whiteworshipping, which leads to an undue balance of chinese women abandoning their race to "go white". It has now reached a point where most Chinese, in China or overseas (including British Born Chinese), associate happiness - with "the west" - and thus attempt to emulate it as much as they can.

    It's quite telling that whilst Chinese communities and Far East countries demonstrate the most rapid change from third world to first world (of course nowhere near approaching that yet) compared to others, the sacrifice to that is of their culture, "opening up" to the nations that have already developed, which are mostly white. I look at black and asian nations... namely India and Brazil, which are also rapidly growing, but not at China's pace... and the difference in native culture is profound. These are nations whose leaders have taken the time to retain their identity, MODERNISING without westernising. I think China growing too fast has resulted in "selling their soul".

  4. Argh, I meant to say "black, asian and other developing nations"

  5. ^ Yeah nice point about the subtle difference between westernisation and modernisation is the speed of things, hadnt thought of that.

    Anyway, lets hope Beijing/CCP can finally slow down, step away from the limelight slow down and ignore all eyes of the world on them.

    I just find it amusing the hypocrisy of the western world as BBCz said everyone wanting to learn mandarin and get what they want out of her, when not so long ago China was everyone's shoe-shiner.

    She's been made to be everyone's whore and amidst all the f-cking her own children are getting neglected.

    Dont mean to be blunt, but thats how I feel about it.

  6. Greetings!

    Have been enjoying reading your blog - truly mind-boggling.

    I'm a mainlader(Shanghai)Chinese, have been staying in UK (London) for the past two years. Interestingly though, I've yet to (manage to) make a single addition of British Born Chinese into my social circle. The 'stocks' of Chinese with whom I've befriended here are mostly my fellow countrywomen; Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean Chinese etc.

    As for BBCs, to be honest, I've given up on the hope to 'friend' any of their kind - for the impression that they really don't bother off 'bonding' with mainlanders on racial/cultural heritage terms - I've been convinced that they don't find it flattery when raising the topics of their cultural heritage to (aka, 'are you Chinese' type of questions however subtle), I also have been believing that they perceive themselves as a sort of 'more superior beings' than (mainlander) Chinese, and in particular don't appreciate discussing China/Chinese-ness and issues alike with mainlanders. I had two encounters with BBCs - one with a girl at Cambridge job fair and another with a BBC of HK origin, not terribly hartening events to say the least. Ever since I've smartened up and backed off, meaning I avoid topics of anything China/Chinese with them and stand by the fine line of casual small talks of social politness. What making a stark contrast is that SE-Asia Chinese persons are more receptive in my experience.

    Two conveats though, for one I do find it in general difficult to mingle with British outside the working context, in contrast Continental Europeans are somehow easier to get along, North Americans are OK, I'm on very freindly terms with SAsians I met here, too. So maybe it's more a matter of the British-ness rather than anything particular of British Born Chinese?

    Second, I used to exchanged in US for a while, met a heck lot of ABCs, CBCs there - many of them don't appreciate to be reconized as foremostly Chinese, which was a teaching moment for me because back then I very much bought into that whole "Chinese bonding" myth which is still fed up to mainlanders, which basically coveys an idea that there is some sort of a unity among "the Chinese as descendants of Emperors Yan and Huang" (炎黄子孙), regardless where they are; overseas Chinese for that matter, will still be Chinese in the end of day. The myth has since been debunked by what I saw and heard when living overseas. I usually didn't count them as Chinese to avoid causing them discomfort when initially meeting them, until sometimes some of them would recognize this first so that I could make sure Chinese-ness wouldn't be an awkward topic stading in between us.

    Anyway, really informatvie discussions, thank you for your work and contributions. I've learned quite a bit of new perspective.

    1. Hi welcome,

      Glad you liked the blog. Please also read this article for more about British Chinese community

      As you will find, most BBCs dont identify with FOBS or mainland Chinese because there is disunity within our own British Chinese community. But I believe the more BBCs open up to visiting Chinese like yourself and the more you open up to us, we can create a better dialogue and stronger identity for ourselves.

      Thanks for signing up for an ID, why not submit an article something on behalf of mainlander viewpoints? you write us :

      Look forward to seeing you more often on here.

    2. If you raised this question "the Chinese as descendants of Emperors Yan and Huang," with the Chinese in the Far East, even they probably wont be interested in discussing it.

      It goes both ways. Majority of overseas FOB students don't approach BBCs to make friends, instead they form a huge clique of FOB students from their own country as they went to the same schools in the Far East. The lone BBC is left looking at this huge clique feeling as an outsider. BBCs are out numbered, you will find if it was the other way around, with a huge BBC clique - a lone FOB will probably feel the same.

      Incidently, there are many Chinese females (FOB & BBC) who display this off-attitude where they ignore/blank all other Chinese people especially ignoring/blanking Chinese guys. This could be because they dont like Chinese people and want to be with white/non-chinese people, they are just shy, they have terrible personality/character or they are in a relationship already.

      I have experienced it myself many times, once I was walking down the street and a Chinese girl (looked like a fob) was lost looking for the same careers fair that I was, (I could see her paperwork in her hands), instead of asking me for directions, she deliberately ignored me and waited to ask White person for directions. I have tried in the past to talk to FOB Chinese, many have really bad off-personalities and don't like using English language, since I speak Cantonese, they speak mandarin, we cant communicate.

    3. Hi, thank you for your replies.

      First, I've long passed the stage when I'd raise the "descendants of a common root" sort of topics to overseas Chinese persons I'd met. I recognize that a) this isn't some funky trendy stuff that they'd take an interest in b) China, her developments as well as problems - which aren't the issues that are of high relevance to their personal lives or immediate surroundings.

      What I was alluding to in the previous post as "the Chinese bonding" isn't something easy to put a finger on, could be loosely referring to a level of familiarity and an immediate amiableness expected among Chinese persons.

      Second, I think your observations of FOB cliques and off-putting experiences with FOBs should be valid. Just I want to offer my side of story as well.(I'm not sure how the interior of BBC community looks like though.)

      Because I'm a female, I usually only approach other females for potential friendships. My experience with BBC girls and 1st generation FOB girls was far from positive. I used to see this BBC girl everyday in the student hall, and the thought to try to befriend her did flash across my mind - but just as the situation you've described, she was forever in a clique with mostly British white kids. I didn't have bad experience with her, but her demeanor was, well, so British that I could only presume it'd not be an easy task to find anything we had in common to build up a rapport. Another BBC girl I met was at a dinner party that her 1st-gen FOB mother held. Present were a mainlander girl, a mainlander guy who did grad school in an Ivy League, and I. The mother dominated the conversation which revolved around which university her baby girl should attend, and it seemed to me that the Ivy League guy was treated as a guest of honour by the mother because he could provide useful reference to her daughter. As for another girl and I, we were practically deemed invisible minions just for decorations. For the whole three or four hours I was there, the BBC girl didn't initiate anything with me or another girl even though the three of us belong to the same age range. Nope this was not because I spoke bad English, hence not able to communicate with her - I took the initiative, but it couldn't be more obvious that she couldn't be bothered.

      Granted, 1st-gen FOBs were worse. I had this girl in the same class, who gave me condenscending funny looks after I signed up for a presentation topic that she seemed to want - later she changed her attitude though, probably upon discovering I was very competent in both language and academic abilities. Another who holds a Dutch passport loves to bash China in front of foreigners. Funny that she herself was a mainlander coming from Wenzhou city, surname should've been Xia if spelled in PinYin system, but she uses Hsia instead, a form of spelling used in Taiwan - that kind of mentality, you get the picture.

    4. To continue...

      Not so much I could say about BBC guys, the only one I had a small chat with, informed me that he didn't have the dishes I mentioned to him for Chinese New Year because he's from HK, a HKer, ya know, a totally different species from us mainlanders. And that was that. :) On the filp side, I honestly don't usually consider BBC guys for potential friends as 1) supposing it'd be easier to be friends with BBC girls, and if BBC girls have set the rules that they are not interested, how could guys be exceptions? 2) I heard a lot of unfounded bad things casually tossed around about mainlander girls and resent these unjustified prejudices as if everyone of us is eager to get rid of the PRC passport by getting on with any random foreigner. I have a very good friend who's in love with an ABC guy, and the guy's parents strongly disapproved as they didn't want their son to end up with a Chinese for one, and for two they suspected my friend wanted to use him for a green card. Ha! she graduated from top unis in China and UK, landed a very good job when the guy didn't find anything back in the States, and she does want to stay in China for her career development, and as her friend I know that she geniunely loves him - why people find it acceptable and appropriate to judge simply because she's a mainland Chinese? So my reasoning is "no, thanks, I'll keep the distance to avoid uninvited unpleasant suspections and judgements", besides, I'm pretty sure my stay in the UK won't be forever anyway.

      I'd spare more appalling/amusing examples here. Just conclusions formed as below - for a random Chinese face on the street, if they are BBCs, and if they are not condescending then they must be indifferent, if they are FOBs (depending on their origins) they are likely to be obnoxious, just of varying degrees. I'm not the only visiting mainlnder who thinks like this.

      So let's compare notes, the underlying reasons you infer from your experience could be true. My conclusions are not unfounded either. I had good experience with Chinese people I met here too, but that took a lot of time to become comfortable. Bad experiences bring negative assumptions and they could be the barrier to prevent people on both sides to open up to each other.

    5. Oh, by the way, I've been devouring the articles you put up on this site for the past days, so more or less I'm familiar with your perspectives towards interracial relationships between Chinese women and white men.

      A disclaimer that what I said about "keeping distance" from BBC guys apply to foreigners in general. My wish in the romance department is that I'd be blessed with a family with a wonderful Chinese man and have children with him. More importanly, he'd understand the culture, follow the custom and treat my parents like his own and I'd treat his mine. - As you probably have heard of, for a Chinese mother, a son-in-law should make a half-son "一个女婿是半个儿子". A marriage with anyone who couldn't communicate with my mom and dad? - Horrendous.

      So my BBC cousins, please don‘t pick up on this and come at me. :P

      As a side though, you seem having been a bit too harsh on your own women...

    6. Regarding settling for a BBC male over a white male, would make sense for the mainland Chinese woman to settle with a BBC male than a white male for obvious reasons that a BBC male in marrying a Chinese girl would be more open to respecting/learning more his own culture and customs, than a white man would.

      And if , as an internationalist Chinese woman, you are unable see that, then harsh opinions on here towards some women are probably justified.

      As it says here, those kind of women cannot have their cake and eat it too

      And just because racial dilution of Chinese is disproportionately seen as 'common' in China and in the UK and all over the western world doesnt make it 'normal', and that the culprits are often than not Chinese women, means that Chinese women, ought to bear responsibility for their marital choices and offspring.

    7. Hi HBC,

      You've got a point. But it would make sense only when this BBC male 1) appear on the right timing 2) there is mutual attraction. In reality one oftentimes cannot afford to wait for that archetype all-around best to come up stage but only to settle with a good enough that she's met.

      To establish that many mainland Chinese women have subscribed to the false white privilege and are willing to forsake their own culture to go white, you've gotta name ample cases where, given a BBC man of more and better qualities (of characters/education etc) than a given white man, she rejects this excellent BBC man to go for a white lesser - then she's in the indisputably wrong, shame on her indeed.

      Does this really happen THAT MUCH to make a trend? Or is it just a largely unfounded/ill-informed, statistically-challenged Internet meme about mainland women? (I'm a Shanghainese/mainland female, you bet I heard it all.)

      It does seem to me that some of the bashing here towards BBC women went a bit over the top in certain posts, albeit many others hit straight home to expose real issues with much astuteness and courage.

      What in particular interesting is you assign BBC women the responsibilities for their marital choice, and advocate BBC men to be more protective of their 'own women' when you guys are born and bred and currently living in a world that boasts precisely individual rights, multiculturalism, meanwhile is much soaked in the Western style feminism - which could be an obvious loose end in your edifice of BBC theories - no surprise a BBC lady would jump out to claim as a modern woman she doesn't need to be protected and is entitled to her right to choose a desired mate against the perceived-primitive/backward Chinese traditions.

      The point is - as long you use this set of terminology, slim chance for you to win; your fellow BBC women who are married to whites are destined to enjoy a much larger share in the UK mainstream than you do along your mission to articulate and construct a solid Chinese identity in the British context.

      Would you happen to have come across the Paper Tiger article published in NYMagzine that attempts to address the similar issues that Asian American males face? Lots of Asian female turning up complaining why it doesn't include their experience -

      but you know what, I guess one thing the author does right, he cries out loud the frustrations and discriminations that Asian men have experienced in America, WITHOUT attacking Asian women. Better to appeal to your women for an ally than to alienate them as enemies. ;)

    8. As great as awareness of issues is,

      re appealing to women, as a guestblogger I would say that the articles are fair.BBCz obviously has his own opinion

      Ones such as the examples given and this

      are proven time and time again.

      Chinese and BBC female individuals who can back their argument will be able to give examples where they have fought to end racism other than having children with a white man in order to do so.

      If they can pass the test, AND they are vocal about other issues that affect us as a Chinese collective, then they would sign up for a google ID and join us.

      RE: construct a solid Chinese identity in the British Context, again that is up to visitors. There are spammers who use a google ID to sign up, there are trolls who sign up, not until the latter part ( now) are there a few sign ups even though the blog has been going for almost 2 years now. There is however, little unity.

      The practical steps for creating an a BBC media are outlined here

      A few people have mentioned interest in the above, but again its about power. Who has the funds? the organisation? the time?

      With a British Chinese population of 500k and increasingly more Chinese students visiting the UK ( like yourself), why is it only up to 2 BBCs ( BBCz and myself) who have any real opinion on the state of issues that affect BBCS?

      And why, despite asking many people to sign up and start organising something ( again see the outline suggested in that article) that people still want to remain anonymous and be fed like baby chicks?

      And its possible that maybe sooner than later that this blog will end waiting the next gen of BBCs to learn from to take BBC culture to its next logical phase.

      In that same above article I have already offered my contributions as only a writer, if required but I do not know of people who would organise and fund such a project. If you do, please email

      If however you do not have any real intention other than to pass by and smell the roses like many people, that is also fine.

    9. I skimmed the first two paragraphs of the NY article and stopped, its too self-deprecatingly cringing, you'll find this kind of garbage on Chinasmack written by white washed Asians with self-hatred issues who are confused by their ethnicity/identity. The writer can't even speak his parents language and resorts to self-racial slurs, just reminds me of Gok Wan or some British East Asian artists/actors who I won't name.

      If you compare my articles - you will see the difference in the manner in which we write, we write to a Chinese audience and we write with a lot racial pride, whereas he is racially self-deprecating dishing out his frustration for a White audience to understand him.

      I will write a new article on Chinasmack discussing this topic, so you'll see the different levels of Asianess/chineseness that overseas born Chinese hold, we're not the same. Quite frankly you need to stop reading these types of articles that YOU think are representative of Chinese diaspora. These white washed Asians only represent a section of Chinese diaspora and of course they're more accessible to whites because they're white washed, they're like Eurasians. Discussed here -

      Which posts towards BBC women are over the top and why?

      Also, why are you insinuating....."To establish that many mainland Chinese women have subscribed to the false white privilege and are willing to forsake their own culture to go white, you've gotta name ample cases where, given a BBC man of more and better qualities (of characters/education etc) than a given white man, she rejects this excellent BBC man to go for a white lesser"

      Who has said that about Mainland women and BBC males? Certainly not I. I only know one mainland female who has actually married a BBC male. FOB mainlanders generally marry other FOBs or White men, they're generally not interested in BBCs neither male or female, friendship nor relationship - as we've already discussed.

    10. I should add you can tell how white washed the article writer is, he even has photo of himself with a beard identical to those beards those fat white middle aged american/canadian men have.

    11. On the topic of asian american activism, whilst asian americans are in my opinion supportive of each other in comparison to British Chinese, or British East Asians, id say unfortunately they are also the hub of multiculturalism.

      The good thing about us Chinese in the UK is that its quite clear which ethnic group needs social definition, where we stand and the core is Chinese. Unfortunately we dont do anything about it, but if British Chinese were ever to create a social political collective wake up call,including the continuous Chinese student visitors and mainland immigrants it could potentially be quite a potentially strong social presence being that we are the majority out of all the East Asians in the UK. The downside however as we know is that this country will probably continue to have a strong core of white-centric values that ethnics will have to become whitewashed in order to gain any credibility in British society. However that doesnt stop us from creating our own network for ourselves.

      As for the U.S. I get the impression that everyone is catered for to the point that even the term 'Asian' can be considered a metaphor for Multiculturalism. Whilst in the UK the distinction between a south asian and a Chinese is clear. Over there its all 'Asian'. Even Eurasians are included as being Asian, and the more blurred the definition it is, the harder it is for any singular sense of activism to gain any serious traction.

  7. And by the way, any chance anyone here reads Chinasmack? It has a section called Chinese Diaspora - I'm a regular reader and once ran into this piece, which helped cement my current perception of BBC - I'm not saying I see any bad in this, just it's a small bit in the whole picture that I see as BBCs prefer to relinquish or keep distance from 'Chineseness' - if such a thing really exists. :)

    1. Yes its interesting that she keeps her distance from her Chineseness by 'helping to mix up the gene pool and keeping the rich diversity of this country alive' by having a white boyfriend.

      This unfortunately is the issue with a lot of Chinese girls I have noticed in China and in the UK. Again from this article, and other articles on here you can see this. Britain and the west, a Chinese is taught to hate himself, and it takes a lot of strong family bonds, and network of friends to ignore that mainstream socially engineered perception.

      Hopefully with the recent incident ,

      Chinese girls will start waking up to the falseness of white privilege

    2. I discussed the motives of ChinaSmack here.