Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Is BBC Identity Trapped By Chinese Self-interested attitude?


Is there something about our BBC nature, aside from friends and family, that we tend not to acknowledge other ethnic Chinese in public due our self-interested attitudes?

Publicly acknowledging another Chinese stranger, is a way of validating that person's presence, and in the UK, where Chinese are a minority, sharing an ethnic commonality.

Is there something about being British AND Chinese that makes us behave doubly self-interested and uninterested in each other? Is it  regional - Northern BBC's vs Southern BBC's? Or Hong Konger vs Mainlander?

Here's a quote from an anonymous BBC commenter:
'Why can't we embrace our identity as British Chinese in the sphere, unalienated by gendered construct and ESTABLISH ourselves as a great part of the community? Why do we attack our women when we also need to pursue objectives that can benefit our men? We want every British Chinese to have the same opportunities. We want our community to be respected. Before we can BE RESPECTED, we have to RESPECT each other and choices EACH people make. But in DOING So we need to ask British Chinese to BREAK DOWN THEIR own stereotypes about each other.

What you guys need to do is say to Chinese women: stop stereotyping against your men. What you also need to say is: love who you love: regardless of colour. You also need to say to them is: your body is your own. but remember you are also represneting others. your responsibility exceeds just that.

What you need to say to Chinese men AND women:
GO and BE the change you want to see. If your heart is IN the traditional career roles, that's ok. but if you wanna be something else.. do it. be brave. we support you.'
Nice idealism, but as far as I can see, unless Chinese in the UK can actually see connection within each other first, those idealisms will remain just that.

Indeed from what I have seen, ethnic Chinese strangers in the UK do little to acknowledge each other in public, and in a largely white-dominated public, these over-emphasised values, have gotten in the way of choosing practical over cultural, family over social , self over collective.

Here are some common examples of FOB self-interested attitudes are taken to the extreme in our UK Chinese identity:

Good news - likes to be shared with friends
Bad news - keep to ourselves
Racism- deal with it on our own way, when it happens to others, not interested
British Chinese community, not interested in what others think, only how we, as individuals, benefit.
When something bad happens to another Chinese, turn the other way.

Even on this blog,  accusations thrown at the two contributors for being pro-China extremists, like ' Who are you people? Why do you hide behind anonymous names?'  And yet, when those same people are invited to contribute an article, let alone accept an invitation to meet up in person, there is no reciprocation and they vanish into the ether.

That some readers who have been with us for some time now,  remain anonymous, but refuse to sign up with a google ID to show a sense of online solidarity, and when asked to meet up, say they will, but in the end, don't, makes me wonder about our BBC/British Chinese nature of relating to other Chinese in general.

Is it our inherent passive aggressive nature? 

That as ethnic Chinese we don't want to acknowledge needing help but often need help, or want to support an opinion but it's often in the form of criticism.

That whenever someone offers a practical solution we ignore it because we don't think it's realistic.

Or is it the lack of trust amongst Chinese?

As another commenter says:

'Chinese are not adverse to screwing people over. Over on the forum there was a post about concert tickets where the buyer charged her FRIENDS 250% mark up on the face value. Menu/sign printing companies for pissy jobs charge way over the odds compared to English companies. I was being quoted £900 when the English co nearby gave me a £140 price. Same with Chinese speciality insurance companies, guess who I go to?'

On a recent article  I attempted to help out a fellow BBC by offering her advice towards dealing with some local racists. However in the course of that conversation, when I casually mentioned that 'FOBS can slate you for not speaking much Cantonese' I was immediately questioned as to whether I was a 'self-hating BBC'

Before, I had little idea what being a BBC meant, because like a lot of us, we don't really take time to examine our identity or rather, in typical Chinese practicality just ignore the politics and..get on with it.

If an extreme self-interested attitude is part of our parent's nature, does it work when it comes to developing a British Born Chinese social identity? And if we are too lazy or scared to question such attitudes in discovering the way we relate to each other as British Chinese, doesn't that make British Born Chinese a social identity in extreme denial?


  1. Its not that I post anon on purpose. I just can't be arsed to sign in all the time tbh.

    Its several reasons: As people raised in TAs our parents and (it rubs off onto us) other Chinese as competitors and therefore enemies to your own wealth.

    Add in the tiger parenting whereby you are always not good enough and compared to other people. It foisters a resentment between yourself and others. Another Chinese person is not just a Chinese person. It is a potential competitor who is doing much better than you.
    Who wants to be compared to that or be looked down upon?

    Secondly, going a bit Japanese on this. Chinese culture has a bit of Ojee Sama in it. This is paradied in the film Eat drink man woman. Where people act all superior than their peers even if it is undeserved.

    Now add in face issues and you've got a divided unhappy untogether Chinese community, until we grow out of it which what with the living with parents longer and their influence is hard to escape.

    But hell what Lao Zhu (or somebody said). It takes one person to make the first step. Problem is the Chinese community does not seem to make these first steps easily.


    1. Ken funny you should say that, thats what someone posted on facebook too:

      'i have a theory that most chinese differ from their white counterparts nd have an unhealthy personality trait for being ultra competitive. they are more driven by money, status nd power which explains why they have to compare with other chinese....if u see a guy above u, u wont acknowledge it to save face but if u see a guy below u, u wont wanna know them either as they wont enhance ur status. hence meeting anoher chinese friend is more difficult than ever!'

      I dont actually 100% agree with it, because for me, here and now in the UK, there are times, I'd sooner look for commonalities with an ethnic Chinese stranger,in a public place, even knowing that English isnt the 'official language' of British Chinese, but then, that's just me.

      The 'acting superior' than peers is interesting, I think this is probably emphasised even more for us as ethnic Chinese in a white majority. Where I live, people can be quite indifferent towards each other, in contrast to some other areas of the UK, where it can be more communicative, so when it comes to seeing another Chinese, eg on the train , theres often that stilted silence, although I do always try and make that effort to acknowledge.

      But I agree if one person makes the first step, publicly, we'd all do it. Obviously if we had a broader awareness ie to be seen to be open to each other, to legitimise it, this open connection would develop faster. I think Americans as well have this natural open-ness to each other, whilst Brits tend to be more segregated.

      However at least online, despite our tribal camps of BC online, FB and this blog, what I have noticed is we share and borrowing each others dialogue, and ways of expression, which in its own small way, it's a nice start of recognition and show of acknowledgement to each other.

  2. "practical over cultural, family over social , and self over collective."

    IMO, the premise of your article is completely wrong because tribes by general definition are social kinship clans. The Yue Cantonese can be considered a tribal clan, it has a tribal society right? If you have tribalist values, your values are akin to your clan. But what you're alluding to is the role of individualism not tribalism. But this is anthropological area, not my interest.

    @ Anonymous20 June 2012 14:21 You dont have to log in, you can Click NAME/URL instead of anonymous.

    1. As per the old British Chinese forum slogan, we seem to sit on this fence of not being entirely British because we dont have an English speaking social identity, and also not being Chinese, being british born.

      Anyway, my point being is that because little concerted effort has been made to challenge this perception, whether it be considered unimportant or whatever, we still straddle these two worlds socially so Id argue that its a bit of both western individualism and Chinese tribalism.

      Also as you and I chatted about last night, remember Steven Ips article


      being discussed on facebook:


      That raised varied opinions of BBCs to learn Mandarin due to influx of more mainland students, coming to the UK.

      Mr Ip, if you're reading this, interesting article, however your suggestion, whilst arguably creating a better connection with mainland students and visiting Chinese to the UK and good idea on an individual basis, still does little for creating a BBC social identity, and may well only add to this tribalist segregation amongst Chinese except that it would be between mandarin speakers and non mandarin speakers, although that may not what you were getting at with the point of your piece.

  3. Stop making bogus excuses with your anthropo bullshit.

    Chinese ARE Chinese, Chinese 4 Chinese.

    With us or against us, women bubi nide Bangzhu.

    Nobody cares.

    Ming4ever !

  4. I think this is a great article. Tribalism exists in the sense that there is a lack of understanding and empathy between Cantonese, the growing population of Mainlanders and other Chinese groups (dodgy Fujian triads being one of them) in the UK. In my opinion its still the Cantonese that are closest to developing a true BBC identity. My parents emigrated from Mainland China and I grew up only interacting with Mandarin-speaking Chinese. Mainland Chinese are the ultimate example of tiger parenting and literally half of my Chinese friends went to Cambridge University. Dating whites is extremely common and many of them have a disdain for Mainland China and its people but at the same time being unable to comprehend the importance of developing a BBC culture.

    1. Pete ,kind of agree with you that Commonwealth Chinese are closest to developing a BBC identity, but as you say things are constantly in flux - older Cantonese speaking FOBs who make up the majority are aging, and the newer mainlander students, mandarin speaking students, speak good English anyway.. Its hard to figure out what a solution would be , but something simple like asking our British Chinese leader to organise an event for British Chinese to meet up based around English speaking social identity event could help solve a lot of things. Not sure how that would happen, but it would be a good step IMO, maybe with some various unknown BBC /ethnic Chinese artists as acts to break the ice. Sometimes its just enough for our leaders to show they actually care about the British Chinese community that can change things. I mean when was the last time any event was held to celebrate JUST ethnic Chinese in British Chinese community? Unlike other UK ethnic communitys?

  5. Acknowledging our faults is a good step. Having said that, speak for yourself... I DO acknowledge ethnic Chinese on the street IF they look at me. A slight nod, hi or whatever... it doesn't even need to be in the same language - indeed all the Chinese interactions I've had (outside uni) are with non-BBCs i.e. immigrants from China, Hong Kong or Singapore (those ones was in English).

    As for tribalism, it is a vital aspect that has empowered other minorities in white countries, but unfortunately crippled ours due to the divisions amongst divisions - like the article pointed out, where from China, what type of Chinese etc. and of course, Chinese women not even being with Chinese men. That causes a lack of unity like no other factor - after all, how can you have a Chinese family united as Chinese if one (and the kids) are NOT Chinese? In addition, the controlling partner (usually the white man) is making every effort (not that he needs much) to whitewash her?

    I point you to this quote, from a couple of Tibetans who killed themselves in the name of seperating from China....


    'We also want to appeal to our fellow youth that they should not quarrel among themselves and they should not have any ill feelings against each other. Everyone should unite to uphold the cause of the Tibetan race and nationality.'

    Replace Tibetan with Chinese. That is the dilemma we are facing in Britain.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I acknowledge other Chinese on the train, as well , even when they dont look at me.

      I think thats also another thing - I'll make the initiative to look at them first. Oftentimes as Ken said we hold this superior attitude where the other has to acknowledge me first and not the other way around.

      I'm consciously trying to practice the opposite of that. Because in many ways I've learnt it shows humility, arguably a value that we are missing these days, and once humility has been established, connect,brotherhood/sisternhood, then pride has been established. May not be a big deal to anyone else, but to me, its that simple and makes a difference in creating solidarity in public.

      On a lighter note, this girl presumably coming back from a day in the office ( BBC im assuming) who was giving me the eye,on the train, who walked passed me in my direction smiled at me when she got off. Which was nice. Amazing waxed legs.

      RE: the tibetan article.Probably belongs on the DM thread? I think our UK dilemma is one of more anti-apathy rather than immolation.

    3. Yeah, the tibetan quote was less about immolation and more about what they said...that instead of creating divisions amongst our own (ethnic Chinese - which is what we are doing) - we need to unite to upheld our race and identity, which is pretty much what a lot of BBCs and immigrant Chinese women are doing the complete opposite of (i.e. endorsing whitewashing of their own race).

    4. Agreed 100%. Do you know any of these women personally, I notice your comments seem to be quite strong against it?

      Not sure if you read BBCz's other comment but it's also something I noticed recently whenever I'm in town, is that the younger gen of BBCs actually seem to be more pro-Chinese couples.

  6. the chinese need something like this


    we all know of white media always portraying us in (and only in) a negative light, that or quirky barbarians, so we need a non government group./think tank that actively speaks out against us like this. Note there are similarities with the Israelis re: Palestine and Tibet. Yet every incident is countered by HonestReporting and their thousands of net followers - mostly Jews living in western nations. Much like we have many chinese living in the west.

    So far (in Europe at least) we have had nothing of the sort, which ties in nicely with the "we only care for ourselves, not our people" theory (or worse, they perceive "their" people as white).

    The organisation was setup by British Jews as well.

    1. Jews rule the western media, so something like the link you shown is a natural course of action, because they would never allow themselves to be seen in a negative light. Similarly, being that we know how the Daily Mail loves cranking out its clockwork sinophobia, and our only reprsentation are shitty bodies that are run by sheepish FOB/non FOB white-bum lickers as you say, I cant see it happening.

      For what you are suggesting to work, you need a group of people to have a united sense of urgency, and in turn, a community that will react to that sense of urgency. Unfortunately, noone sees it as urgent enough, so nothing will ever get done. Bring on Simon San mark 2.3,4,5,6. We will remain docile til the ends of time.

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