I’ve been trying to get my wife to translate “We Teach Illegally For You, China” for a few days now. First she wanted to re-write it because she felt it was too aggressive and unsympathetic to Chinese. Last night things came to a head when she started arguing with every point I made! I tried to be patient and explain things from a foreigner POV and let her know she’s welcome to soften the article, but she just got more and more argumentative. Finally I snapped when she gleefully said “in a few years China won’t even need foreigners to teach English anymore”.
My article went untranslated and I realized — My wife’s racist Chinese nationalism scares me!!!
I do kinda understand where my wife is coming from. Expats and expat media is almost always overwhelmingly negative towards Chinese people, and she’s dealt with that on foreign sites in the past. Even Mr. GlobalNews has been quite insensitive when discussing her small hometown and the ‘ignorance’ we found there. But “We Teach Illegally For You, China” was written to explain the difficulty expat teachers find themselves in in China — jobs everywhere, visas nowhere and getting punished the hardest during sporadic crackdowns.
Writing this is a form of therapy for me so I hope she doesn’t take it the wrong way. But the racist stuff coming out of her mouth when I was explaining the article just got worse and worse!! Here’s some highlights:
- foreigners have it great in China because we can pick up girls in bars easily
- we are losers back home and we should be grateful to be here
- we don’t get punished for teaching illegally
- if we couldn’t teach illegally, we wouldn’t come to China
- we should be grateful that the Chinese government looks the other way
- it’s easier for us in China than Chinese going overseas
To be fair there is a grain of truth behind what she says, but.. it reminded me a lot of the comments I get whenever I write anything slightly critical of China: “GO HOME, FOREIGN”. I’ve been in China for 12 years, basically all my adult life. China is my home. And the worst part is we have a daughter together. A daughter who is half-FOREIGN. A daughter that when I take outside I constantly overhear Chinese whisper “外国小孩 (foreign baby).” If my half-Chinese daughter who was born in China can’t even be accepted as a local, what chance do I have? And if my half-Chinese daughter can’t be accepted as a local, will she also end up the target of Chinese nationalists?
If even my wife’s racist Chinese nationalism scares me, I don’t even want to think about what’s underneath the surface of ‘polite Chinese society’. The whole episode reminded me of Chinese web-forum Tianya (tianya.cn), where Chinese nationalists spew their hate against foreigners everyday. Will China ever accept foreigners as more than permanent guests?
Will I ever be able to call China home and not be laughed at? Dear Xi, I hope so.
For a friendlier China
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