Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Low for South African Reporting on Chinese Immigrants

Here come the Chinese...
Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak writing in the Daily Maverick, "Chinese shopkeeper cover story a new low for South African Journalism," deftly deconstruct the cover story in Noseweek, yet another piece of "yellow journalism" about Chinese immigration into southern Africa. Here's the lead for the Daily Maverick story, describing the Noseweek piece: "a humid conspiracy theory wrapped in the guise of journalism, and when it isn't racist and xenophobic, it's plain wrong."

One of the main themes of the Noseweek story is that the mom & pop Chinese shops one can easily find in many parts of South Africa are part of a giant plan, rendering them pieces of one huge "chain store". Anyone who has actually interviewed Chinese traders (as I and many others have, including Bloom and Poplak) would realize that this is so silly that it would be laughable if it wasn't deliberately intended to arouse xenophobic fears.

I'm really glad to see an uptick in the fact-checking coming from the continent. Wonder when we'll start seeing something similar coming out of China?

A hat tip to Sven Grimm at the Centre for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University.

4 comments:

  1. If one day goes by without someone constructing a fable lambasting the evilness of the Chinese in Africa (and elsewhere), that would be a very very strange day.

    I am not surprised at all by that kind of yella journalism - and I do need to point out that the "noseweek" is not alone.

    The famous BBC Worldservice is actively doing the same thing - whenever they find the chance, they will sure crank up their collectively creative minds by inventing new venues in which they can launch attack at the Chinese, (and also China).

    Whenever there is a report regarding Chinese (or China) in Africa on the BBC, you can bet that it would be a negative piece.

    Even when they (BBC presenters) picked comments from twitter regarding Chinese in Africa, they will pick tweets such as "Chinese dumping inferior goods in Africa", "Chinese robs Africans' wealth", and stuffs like that.

    As a matter of facgt, I have yet to hear a single positive comment on BBC regarding Chinese' involvement in Africa.

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  2. Chinese are here to stay in South Africa whether we like it or not. After living in Johannesburg for 15 years I've become closely acquainted with South African born Chinese an immigrants post 1995. They do not have dissimilar world views.

    The rise of major Chinese corporations is something new post 2000. I highly recommend the book, WHEN CHINA RULES THE WORLD by Martin Jacques. Deborah if you've read it, I'm keen to get your feedback on the overall premise.

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  3. I have lived in China and Taiwan for 12 years, so I know a little bit about Chinese culture. Before welcoming them with open arms, I would find out how they really think and be wary of their intentions, especially in a weakly governed and corrupt country like South Africa. Reading books or talking to a few Chinese immigrants or having some Chinese friends hardly qualifies anyone to make assertions as to whether they, as a group, should be welcomed or not. At the moment, the immigration numbers are low but that will change as other Western countries start limiting immigrants and more and more Chinese are allowed to go to other countries. Most Chinese do not want to integrate into Western society and live together in Chinese areas - just look at the east of Johannesburg. Most eat Chinese food only, do not bother to learn English except for a few key words, send their kids to Chinese schools and socialise with other Chinese exclusively - in other words, they create a little China in their adoptive country.

    On a personal level, I have found most of them quite calculating, untruthful, selfish and racist (many I have talked to in their own country admit to hating blacks and other non-whites). Many are also inherently corrupt and will take advantage of anyone they can. Most importantly, they do not share Western morals and ideals and pursue material wealth above all else. This is not to say that there are not many decent, hard-working Chinese people, but I for one will be resisting their unchecked immigration fervently as I don't believe they have much to offer and are here only to take what they can and then leave when things get tough. We need to focus on getting our own people working instead of allowing foreigners, backed by the shady Chinese government and with access to heaps of cheap, low quality goods, to come into our country, set up shop and rip our people off.

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  4. Hey,As an ex SA Chinese immigrant to Canada from Port Elizabeth, DR YJ Park's report is spot on. The reason for leaving SA in the mid 80s was because my son was not going to be conscripted into the SA army to fight on behalf of a country that gave us no rights-only concessions and privileges as mentioned.Thank you so much!!
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    StreamAfrica

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