China’s Mixed Feelings About Recent Chinosploitation

Judging by the bemused articles friends and family have sent me over the past year or two, we Americans are delighted by Chinese versions of Western shit. And why not? Who among us wouldn’t want to read about Beijing’s first fixed-gear bike gang or the antibacterial underwear sold at Guangzhou Walmarts? And don’t even get me started on the gloriously shameless rip-offs of famous brand names.

But now that China is slated to overtake the U.S. as the world’s number-one economic power, are the tables going to turn? The short answer is “no.” The Chinese may be a manufacturing juggernaut, but we are waaayyyyy ahead of them in terms of entertainment, fashion and, of course, junk food. I mean honestly – can you imagine high-fat, Americanized versions of dried squid or chicken feet? Hollywood remakes of movies about Mao’s Long March? There’s a reason there’s a booming market for pirated American movies.

However – I have read a few interesting instances recently of clumsy American attempts to, well, sell Chinese culture back to the Chinese. Take for example Panda Express’ tentative plan to expand into China.

Surprisingly, Panda Express’founder, Andrew Cherng, is actually a native Chinese, from Jiangsu. That makes his proposition slightly less offensive.

A more recent example is the release of Kung Fu Panda 2, a 3D animated comedy, which, according to an article in the Global Times, is being protested by a local artist through ads and a public letter on his blog:

“This is a battle against the invasion of American culture,” Zhao Bandi, a Beijing-based performance artist known for staging scenarios starring himself and a toy panda, told the Global Times on Monday.

Meanwhile, a Beida professor argues that the Panda isn’t “Chinese” enough:

 Renowned Peking University professor Kong Qingdong pointed out that Po comes across as typically American – talkative and charming – although the film is set in China.

“Rushing to see a Hollywood movie with twisted Chinese culture is the behavior of brainwashed morons whose money is being robbed as well,” Kong told the Global Times.

Haha – I love how this quote basically implies that typical Chinese are not “talkative and charming.”

I also came across an article on ChinaSmack about a music video made by some study abroad students called “Feichang Fresh.” Sadly, it’s not nearly as absurd as I wanted it to be (the song is actually pretty good), but it’s clearly pandering to Chinese people: in near flawless Chinese, the four white guys run around Beijing, praising everything from the women to the food to the accent.

Most commenters are supportive of slick-yet-awkward attempt to endear themselves to Chinese, but others deride the video as offensive – not only in its lighthearted treatment of Chinese identity, but in what it represents about the incursion of foreigners into Beijing:

Don’t raise the Chinese flag as you please! There’s a difference from your nation/country! We normally only raise it when resisting forced demolitions! Raising this flag doesn’t mean you guys are very Chinese!

With food, drink, and girls but without having to worry about housing prices, stock prices, or food prices, of course they’d be feel things are great.

The latter is an awkward topic for foreigners living in China, who make anywhere from three to six times what a college-educated young Chinese would make. But that’s a whole other post. The moral for today? Chinese people are not unequivocally psyched about us appropriating their culture!  But if only they would just try the General Tso’s chicken…


Animal Activist Saves Dogs; Chinese Netizens Outraged

Dogs rescued for Jilinrens dinner plates.

When I was a kid, I used to get SO MAD when other kids would talk about how the Chinese eat cats and dogs. It was, I figured, all lies; racism, pure and simple.

…Or not.

Living in Beijing, you’d never know that Chinese eat dogs unless you read the news. My neighborhood is full of pampered little rat dogs, usually scampering around leashless while their owners follow behind, fussing at them adoringly. It’s as if the One Child Policy turned half of China’s old people into childless, older gay men who dress up their chihuahuas in hand-knitted hoodies and rubber boots.

Despite the growing number of caninephiles, there’s still a weird disconnect in China between dog lovers as in “animal lovers” and dog lovers as in “pizza lovers.” That disconnect was on full display this past Friday, when a truck filled with dogs bound for a Jilin meat market was forced to stop on the highway by an activist who “swerved his car in front of the truck and then used his blog to alert animal-rights activists” (see the Telegraph report here). Apparently there was a fifteen-hour standoff that ended when the truck driver finally agreed to sell the dogs to an animal-protection group at a loss.

While this news story had me cheering, Chinese netizens were apparently less than impressed. In a recent article, the Global Times reported that, in a poll of 7000 users, 69% did not support the activists actions:

“One group’s love and kindness should not violate others’ freedom, rights and interests, otherwise, they would become evil,” Lian Yue, a well-known columnist, said on his microblog on Sunday, adding that the activists were no different than home intruders.

Some people said the animal-rights supporters should care more about people, as there are many people who could benefit greatly from 100,000 yuan.

This incident comes in the wake of recent calls by animal activists and legal experts to put a ban on the eating of cats and dogs within China. Based on polls and message boards, it seems that there’s a split between dog lovers/people who think eating dogs makes China look bad and those who see it as no different from eating other kinds of meat (there’s a ton of stories and netizen reactions on The latter opinion was dominant in a random message board I found, where most of the 196 comments viewed the activists negatively, many criticizing them as “hypocrites”:

狗粉得了狂犬病. The dog lover (the man who blocked the truck) has rabies.

如果哪一天猪迷到处拦截装运生猪的车那该咋办呢?What if instead of dogs, it was a truck full of live pigs that was intercepted by a bunch of pig-lovers? Then what?

志愿者又没花你的钱,愤青们急个什么劲啊?一群伪善者,不用鉴定已完毕. Just a bunch of hypocrites, no need to mull over something that’s already over.
志愿者又没花你的钱,愤青们急个什么劲啊?贫困地区的问题应该正府解决的吧。 What are all the angry people so worried about? The problems of impoverished regions should be solved by the government…
你们都是最有道德的人,你们是神! You are all the most moral of men – you are gods!
中华慈善总会的那十万说不定还有劳资的几百块,我日!劳资捐钱是要救人的,不是救狗的!Of the Chinese Charitable Association’s hundreds of thousands of RMB, there are perhaps still a few hundred that are my own. Fuck! My donations are for saving the lives of people, not dogs!
Blocking a car on the subway? What kind of behavior is that? Forcing the truck driver to sell them the dogs – what kind of behavior is that? The former is a clear violation of humanitarian law, to the point that those involved could be accused of endangering public safety. There must have been other cars on the road besides the truck and the dog lover’s! The latter obviously means the driver was forced to sell, a violation of fair and legal market practices!
鄙视,一群伪善者. Contemptible, just a bunch of hypocrites.
哎,好想吃狗肉啊… 猪肉牛肉都吃腻了. Mmm, now I really want to eat some dog meat. I’m sick of pork and beef.
我认为狗比人更值得拯救,你救了人可能会被反咬一口,而狗不会。I think dogs are more worth saving than people. If you save a person,  you’re liable to get kicked in the teeth, but not so with a dog.
I’ve been consistently surprised by the amount of backlash against activists who protest the eating of cats and dogs. Could it be that people just love eating Fluffy and Fido that much? I doubt it. It makes me wonder what “the right to eat cats and dogs” is actually standing in for…