By now you’ve probably all heard that Google is planning to walk away from China. While that story — and it is a fascinating one — plays itself out, I’d like to direct your attention to this China Daily column, which I found via Lost Laowai.
It is, evidently, an attempt at humor from the sometimes-humorous Hong Huang, but it comes off as a racist, xenophobic train wreck. As Ryan from Lost Laowai put it,
Did you ever have someone tell an absolutely terrible racist joke, but with a complete conviction and passion that you couldn’t comfortably relieve the awkwardness with a simple groan? That’s what it felt like reading this.
The kicker is the final two paragraphs, a supposed-to-be-tongue-in-cheek admonition for foreigners to stay away from fireworks (of course, most foreign countries also have holidays that are traditionally celebrated with fireworks):
Now fireworks. It is strictly, strictly for us Chinese. We really don’t want you anywhere near fireworks. First of all, it is dangerous. You don’t understand why 1.4 billion people have to turn into pyromaniacs for one night. It’s totally beyond your comprehension. But we love it; we have been setting off these things since we were three and for 5,000 years. So let me just say that fireworks are not for barbarians like you. You don’t get it. On the other hand, we Chinese have great tolerance for fireworks; it’s one night when you can do some damage and get away with it. For example, you can burn a building down, a brand new building, with stuff in it. How can you comprehend that level of generosity?
And, don’t you dare try to do the same, we simply have no tolerance for it. You try to burn a building down, we will kill you, because, you were probably high, and we really don’t give a hoot whether you are mentally disturbed or whether your prime minister is going to make endless harassing phone calls.
Of course, the irony here is how much the piece reveals about Hong Huang’s understanding (or lack thereof) of the foreign community in China (not to mention English humor). That this piece made it through multiple editors in a paper that caters mostly to foreigners is surprising, given that many people are probably going to find it offensive. And if you don’t think people are offended, check out the comments.
Here at ChinaGeeks, though, we believe the real crime here was against humor, not foreigners. Yikes…