Did you think that your ability to choke down chicken feet, speak Chinese with your business partners, or play a game of Chinese checkers makes you more Chinese? Well, Hong Huang, the irreverent proprietor of the media empire that owns iLook magazine, wants to let you know that you’re wrong: you’ll never assimilate, because you’re not Chinese. And while you’re at it (not being Chinese, that is), don’t touch chicken feet, sea cucumbers, or firecrackers: it pisses Chinese people off when you do, because you just don’t understand why they’re important in the first place.
From China Daily:
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:
After feeling vaguely offended like a child expelled from class, we’ve come up with this conclusion: foreigners bring up issues with others in a fairly non confrontational way, whereas the Chinese tend to be more straightforward. The problem with Hong Huang’s opinion piece is that it tries to be playful while proscribing, and the combination of the two jives poorly with our conceptions of criticism and autonomy. Lost Laowai seemed offended at Hong’s blatant racism, and we can’t blame them: we were mildly amused up until the point she threatened to kill us if we play with firecrackers.
We would like to think that most Chinese don’t feel so angry when we try and engage China’s culture, that they in fact like it when we do because it shows an openness to cultural exchange. We could be wrong, but that’s not going to stop us from playing with fireworks on New Year’s, even if Hong Huang shows up wielding butcher knives.
UPDATE: Hong Huang has talked about Chinese Nationalism and written “satire” before:
Hong Huang on Chinese Nationalism
Hung Huang, Cheng Kaige and the Steamed Bun
Photo from Chinablog.se