By Xiu Lin Tuoitrenews
March 1, 2013
Editor’s Note: Xiu Lin, a young Chinese woman, recently wrote to Tuoi Tre in response to its story about a restaurant in Beijing posting a xenophobic notice that reads, “This shop does not receive the Japanese, the Philippines, the Vietnamese and dog” [sic]. The owner of the shop had to remove it on Wednesday after netizens unleashed a storm of protest against the notice. Xiu, having lived in Vietnam for six years, submitted a Vietnamese article and here is its translation by Tuoitrenews.
A phrase like “We don’t serve Japanese, Filipinos, Vietnamese and dogs” was not invented by Chinese people, but it dates back to more than 100 years ago. A sign reading “No Chinese or dogs are allowed” was hung in front of the gate of a park in Shanghai, which was a colony of many Western countries then.
It was a historical humiliation to Chinese people. And generations of Chinese teachers have used that sign to teach their students. But some Chinese people now use that same derogatory sign to insult others.
As a matter of fact, such actions are not new in China. If you know a little Chinese and travel to Beijing or some other major Chinese cities, you will see many offensive banners similar to the restaurant’s on the streets. Stickers with sentences like “The Diaoyu Islands are China’s territory, get lost, Japanese!” or “Wipe Japanese out!” are popular with many car owners, who often put them on their windshields. The latest example was that one of the best-selling fireworks in Beijing during the recent Lunar New Year holiday was named “Big blast in Tokyo!”
Because of the disputes over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, many anti-Japanese protests have been staged in recent years in China. In August 2012, “patriotic demonstrations” turned into violent attacks on Japanese stores and those that use Japanese products, especially Japanese-brand cars, even though the owners of those Japanese stores, restaurants, and cars were all Chinese.
I do not want to judge whether “patriotism” is right or wrong, or who owns the islands whose whereabouts I have no clue, but that kind of “patriotism” has created an unpleasant feeling among the majority of Chinese people. I use the word “majority” because extremists like the person who put up the notice at his restaurant always represent the minority.
All of the people I met in Beijing went against such anti-Japanese protests. When I was sitting in my cousin’s car and saw another with an anti-Japanese sticker, he/she just said: “crazy.” After learning that I am living in Vietnam, a young salesman at an Apple store once asked me if Vietnamese expressed their opposition to China the way Chinese people do to Japanese, and then started dismissing those anti-Japanese protesters as “brainless.” I just answered that, “Vietnamese people are much more civilized.”
Though extremists in China belong to the minority, they like expressing themselves and tend to be “loudmouths.” Moderate people, however, often remain silent so outsiders will more likely see the extremists. A myth of Chinese people being extreme has been established in this way.
But I am sure that the majority of Chinese people pay little heed to whether the disputed islands belong to China, Japan, the Philippines or Vietnam since most of them will never see them in their entire life. There are still many other things worth their attention like housing, jobs, children, etc.
The sign has actually caused little damage for Japanese, Filipinos or Vietnamese, it is Chinese, or to be exact, Chinese extremist nationalists, who suffer from one. The whole world knows who they are now.