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Fu Manchu wants to knock up your daughter

April 23, 2010

So many reasons to award points to The Apocalypse this week. Torture in Afghanistan. Ontario government shelves update to sex-ed curriculum under pressure from religious groups. Sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church. Construction in East Jerusalem. Edmonton police officer doesn’t even try to catch men who beat a woman because she’s a lesbian. Burka bans in France. Roman Polanski. It’s all so bleak and depressing that I don’t know where to start.

So I’ll go with a quieter story that really got under my skin this week. Driving to work on Thursday (yes, driving on Earth Day– bite me), I listened to the CBC news. Of the 7 national and international events that the news editor thought I should know, there was a brief piece meant to promote an in-depth series on China’s growing business ties in Africa.

You see, there are tens of thousands of Chinese men who work  in Africa and some of them are *gasp* spreading mixed-race bastards across the continent. (Ladies, clutch your pearls here.) There was no data to provide context for this story- no statistics, no discussion of the impact of the phenomenon. Just an interview with a young Kenyan named Tamara whose first boyfriend was Chinese. Sometime after their son was born, he returned to China leaving no forwarding address. Oh, the Humanity!

No disrespect for Tamara. I’m sure her situation is very difficult. She’s got this boy to raise on her own, with “striking features and skin the colour of watered-down chocolate milk” (again, wishing I were making this up). As the journalist sadly noted, her father has one more mouth to feed.

But is this really news? Really? One of the 7 items of international news I needed to hear on a Thursday morning?Migrant workers get local women pregnant and then take off back home? Would this warrant mention at all if Tamara’s boyfriend was Canadian? Or Swedish? Or American?

When I was in university, I did a research project on 1930s anti-Chinese immigration laws in Canada. I read through piles of documents from 19th and early 20th century Europe and North America alerting people to the Yellow Peril that had its slanted eyes trained on our pure white daughters. Déjà-vu all over again?

I will admit that, as the mother of a child born in China, I may be a little more sensitive to the portrayal of Asians in the media than the average white girl. But there seems to be a new way of thinking and talking about the Chinese now that they own most of the world’s debt that creeps into other issues as well. Like the national hand-wringing in March over attempts by “the Chinese” to buy farm land in Quebec. China, we are told, does not have sufficient arable land to feed a growing middle class population, so it is looking to scoop up farm lands around the world. Hide your daughters, Alberta!

The problem is that the real story is about legal immigrants of Chinese origin buying farm land, not some absent capitalist fat-cats in Beijing.  Investor-class immigrants who help to bail out our sorry-ass economy.  According to the Ottawa Citizen:

As for people of Chinese origin, there has been speculation that investor-class immigrants might now be looking at farms as new stepping stones into Canada, with family and extended-family members available as new sources of farm labour.

Oh, now I see the conspiracy for world-domination and the eradication of everything that is good and pure and holy in this land! They are going to bring over their families and extended families to work on the land! Because they  have, like, hundreds of kids each! Of course, they’ll have to get permits first. And these workers will be paying into our Canadian tax system. And supporting our economy. And boosting our lagging birth rates. But they will be Chinese!

I think the most telling part of the article is the sentence that I chopped off the end of the block quote above:

At the moment, Quebec farmers are importing farm labour from Mexico and Central America.

The Apocalypse: 8.5

Humanity: 7

  1. Peter A Leonard permalink

    In the UK we have a fairly substantial Chinese population. Strangely, people seem hardly aware of them – unlike other ethnic groupings, they are rarely ever mentioned. They are so unassuming. Yet, from my own personal observations, they work so very hard, and for such long hours to improve their lot in life – and good luck to them. I think these people bring great benefits to our country, and are to be congratulated on their work ethic and lifestyle. To not recognise their true value, is other countries loss!

    As to your original point, no, that “international news story” is hardly “news” – but so little of the media glop we are forced to consume as “news” is, in reality, newsworthy. My own view is that news in the UK (in particular) tends to confirm societal bias or sectional interests, rather than objective reporting of events worldwide or even nationally.



    • Most days, the only reason I pay any attention to the news is for bitter blog fodder. Sadly, it works every time. Thanks for the astute comment.

  2. You weren’t kidding when you said Quebec was xenophobic. Yet, I bet that if the Chinese up and left for other provinces, there would be a huge outcry as to the loss of business in all sectors. As with so many of our governments and societies, it seems that fear is running the show rather than common-sense.

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