Dove eating, ugly wife suing and a number 39 with rice. What a month for Chinese misrepresentations

These stories in Western media depict Chinese people in an unreasonably negative way

Nyima Pratten
Tuesday 03 December 2013 11:00 GMT

Being alerted to a wonderfully ignorant article recently about wedding guests catching white doves with the intention of eating them, has reinforced my belief that the Western media will use any excuse to paint the Chinese as a monstrous race.

As a British person living in Shanghai, with mixed British and Chinese heritage, it embarrasses me due to how naive some British media outlets can be. This story, about 100 white doves being released at the joint wedding of five Chinese couples in Anhui province, reeks of double standards. The scandalous (and therefore newsworthy) part was the fact that no sooner had the white doves been “launched into the air”, than they were captured by guests “who took them home to eat”. It portrays (once again) Chinese people to be a bunch of inhumane beasts, when in reality, is there really anything so terrible with catching animals to eat as food?

Firstly, you have to understand Chinese history and culture. It was not so many generations ago that there was a great famine in the country and therefore, culturally, Chinese people are accustomed to not letting any food go to waste. Secondly, is there really any difference between this activity and the rich, social elite in the UK going off to a country estate for a weekend to participate in game hunting?

There was recently a news story about Pippa Middleton’s successful pheasant hunting shooting trip in Scotland. Interestingly enough, the real difference between the two stories actually is that the doves in the Chinese instance were not native to the area and it would have been unlikely for them to survive the cold winter. In the case of Pippa’s birds, they could have lived if left to roam free in the wild. Which one is really the most barbaric and immoral?

Now, I am not defending the actions of the Anhui “dove eaters” but these stories really need to be put into context. The Anhui incident sparked international interest because it is not a common occurrence, whereas pheasant hunting is still commonplace. All the while, we have Z-list celebrities eating animals’ unmentionables for a Bush Tucker Trial on the other side of the world in the name of entertainment for the British public (but the less said about that the better).

This story about a Chinese man suing his wife went viral recently, and not for the first time. There were so many different posts about the “news article” but the gist of the story was that China is made up of such a crazy and backwards gang of freaks that a man was able to sue his wife (and win) for being ugly. This was of course absolutely incorrect and was easily debunked by an expat magazine in Shanghai. It is actually a story that has been knocking around since 2004 and has been brought to light again for no apparent reason.

What infuriated me so much, however, was that I saw The Voice Newspaper post about the viral story on their Facebook page . A newspaper that was set up to "serve the black community by giving them a voice where other mainstream newspapers have failed". It was incredibly hypocritical for The Voice Newspaper to exacerbate the negative stereotype of another ethnic minority. The story was not only factually incorrect but also only served to perpetuate the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Chinese people conveyed in western mainstream media.

Finally, in other racial typecasting news, this shocking example of casual racism, which was broadcast on a national scale in Holland, did not create as many shockwaves as I would have expected. Holland’s Got Talent judge, Gordon Heuckeroth, mocked an extremely talented Chinese contestant named Xiao Wang. Amongst other unenlightened and offensive comments Heuckeroth quipped, “Which number are you singing? Number 39 with rice?” The fact that so many are comfortable with throwing around these offensive comments in the media just proves what a long way there is to go until the West are able to accept Chinese people and China’s influence around the world.

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