I just finished reading Hong Huang’s opinion piece in the China Daily entitled, “Dear laowai, don’t mess with our Chinese-ness” and I can’t figure it out.
What I’d like to think, based on Hong’s reputation, is that it is self-depreciating humour actually directed at Chinese about Chinese superiority and penchants for stereotypes. If this is the case, kudos for the attempt, but man does it miss the mark.
Did you ever have someone tell an absolutely terrible racist joke, but with a complete conviction and passion that you couldn’t comfortably relieve the awkwardness with a simple groan? That’s what it felt like reading this.
As a Chinese, I want to be honest with you. For the past 30 years, we have opened up to the West, and welcomed foreigners like yourselves to come here to do business, to make money, even gave you some easy credit to let you buy real estate, marry our women, whatever. But this does not make you Chinese. There are things we reserve for ourselves, and it really doesn’t matter how long you have been here, just don’t assume you can be one of us, and don’t touch the following three things:
She goes on to outline in brash and ignorant-sounding terms the importance and inclusiveness of each item.
Gems like the following leave me wondering if it’s all just foreigner-friend humour, poking fun at Chinese stereotypes:
You don’t understand why 1.4 billion people have to turn into pyromaniacs for one night. It’s totally beyond your comprehension. But we love it; we have been setting off these things since we were three and for 5,000 years.
I mean surely she doesn’t believe gunpowder has been around for 5,000 years. Surely not.
Can anyone tell me if I should just laugh awkwardly and return to ignoring China Daily, or if I should be telling her where to stick her fireworks?
More on Hong Huang:
- Danwei: Hung Huang, Chen Kaige and the Steamed Bun
- PBS: Extended Interview: Magazine Editor Hung Huang
- Huang Hong’s Personal Blog