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A Swift Response

Last week's Sunday Morning Post had an exceptionally silly news story claiming it was no longer fashionable for local Chinese women to have Gweilo boyfriends, accompanied by all manner of tosh about the difficulty of cross-cultural relationships. 

They quoted from a newspaper column written by Chip Tsao, who had plenty of rude things to say about Gweilos:

"The ones who stayed behind were left to fend for themselves. They had no choice but to move to dorms on Lamma Island or to rent stone houses that people in Sai Kung use to house pigs," his column said.

The full article is at Madame Chiang, and reaction can be found at Hongkie Town, Simon World, BWG and elsewhere.

It appears that the SCMP got plenty of letters from readers complaining that this was racist nonsense, so this week they followed up on the story.  Entertainingly, the columnist is defending himself by saying that he was being ironic:

Tsao hit back at the criticisms by saying: "I am deeply disappointed that western readers, especially those from the United States and the United Kingdom, could not read between the lines and find the sarcasm in my statements. I have always been provocative."  He said he was simply writing something "juicy" to reflect a common theme that already existed in the Chinese-language media.

"If these people saw what Apple Daily and the rest of the Chinese-language papers write, they would not have been so shocked by my column. Hong Kong papers nowadays are always talking about how these foreigners are old and penniless. I find their comments racist.

This doesn't reflect very well on the SCMP.  The readers who were offended would presumably be those who don't read the local (Chinese press), and so are not familiar with Mr Tsao's work - which would be almost all of them (including myself, of course).  Hence the job of the SCMP is to provide some background and give readers a clue whether Tsao really was being ironic.

Clearly if I read a comment such as Tsao's one about dorms and pigs in Hemlock's Diary, I would know that it was intended as irony, whereas a casual reader might well take it seriously (much to Hemlock's delight, I would imagine).  If a newspaper quoted Hemlock's comments as if they were a serious commentary on life in Hong Kong, I would instantly know that the journalist had missed the point, and I would stop reading (unless I was desperate for material to use here).  Which is pretty much what I did with that article in last Sunday's paper, but mainly because the other source was a dating agency who claimed that Chinese women no longer wanted to meet Westerners. 

Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't a news story.      

Comments

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Ken

I am not surprised that a 'local' would come up with something like that. Some convoluted 'nationalism' has come to this side of the border to Hong Kong. It's reminscent of Chinese attitudes towards 'gweilos' during the Ching dynasty. It's more a sickness than 'nationalism'. I should know, because I am of Chinese origin.

Simon

It's almost like you're saying the SCMP isn't a very good paper and it prints puff instead of news.

Chris

Me? Surely not...

weenie

LOL, I just read the full article and laughed! Isn't he actually demeaning HK women by saying that all they are interested in is a guy with money, a car and property? How shallow!

That tosh about embracing the Motherland - I'm sure Tsao would be amongst the first to complain should a family of mainland Chinese be relocated next door to where he lives, he certainly won't be welcoming them with open arms!

Yuen Long Lo Fan

Wow. Glad to find this Blog, I thought I was the only Gwai Lo in the NT. I do read Chinese and hence (when my patience and need for a good laugh are both in abundance) read the Chinese dailys. The author of the article is obviously a jerk in the sense that his argument is "hey, I'm not so bad, they're even worse!", which is of course not ever a good position to argue from. But he is correct in the sense that the local Chinese dailys (and I have to say "Ping Gwo" or Apple is the worst one) don't have many good things to say about foreigners living in Hong Kong.

I speak Mandarin and Cantonese fluently. The funny thing that I have found before I revel the fact to Chinese people, is that (without knowing that they know what your saying) I have found people in Mainland China to be much more accepting of foreigners and the typical Hong Kong person much less so. This is all a bit ironic given Hong Kong's reputation as an "International City". It also makes me wonder at all the ex-pats that I meet living in Mid-Levels who run offices full of locals and don't speak a word of any dialect of Chinese who seem to think they have no need to - yup, just keep telling yourself your assistant manager is talking to your secretary about the weather, that's it.

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