Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Facebook: PRCs, being Chinese and ethnic enclaves

I am not particularly proud of being an ethnic Chinese living in Richmond (known to be an ethnic Chinese enclave in Metro Vancouver) over the last week. It ended with me posting the following comment on my FB wall on yesterday.


WD: Seriously thinking about moving out of Richmond, relocating to Maple Ridge when I am ready.
Push factor: Sick of people screaming bloody "discrimination" at every possible opportunity, instead of reviewing their own SWOT.
Pull factor: Lots of green land, underdeveloped, small suburban community.
[There were several FB "Likes" and comments from friends who are local Canadians as well as Singaporeans who immigrated to Canada in recent years. In particular, my FB "conversation" with RW is rather revealing of the Singaporean attitude to migration, PRCs and discrimination in Canada. Just to set the background: RW is a fellow Singaporean who was in a highly-paid, highly-respected, professional-specialist job in Singapore. After landing in Canada, he took on a blue-collar job initially. See an extract of our FB "conversation" below.]
RW: Ever considered moving to Alberta?

WD: ‎@ RW: I like B.C. It has a history of being liberal (says my Sociology lecturer). I will try other locations in B.C. first before considering other Canadian provinces. Alberta is socially and politically conservative (relative to B.C.), something that I don't care for.

RW: Actually what I meant to say was have you considered moving to Edmonton. As with many things there are generalizations. I personally don't feel Edmonton is socially conservative. In the recent provincial elections there was big uproar about the Wild Rose Candidate who condemned gays. The premier is giving a speech this Saturday at the gay pride parade. Have you visited Edmonton? I think perhaps Vancouver attracts a large number of immigrants who might exploit the social liberalism. I personally have not come across people screaming "discrimination" at every possible opportunity in Alberta.

RW: Edmonton's electorate seems to be different from the ones in Calgary and Southern Alberta. It's a relatively liberal/moderate here. Which is why the NDP captured a couple more seats.

RW: Just curious but is the reason why there are "people screaming bloody "discrimination" at every possible opportunity, instead of reviewing their own SWOT." a result of BC being pro-liberal? What do the people get when they scream "discrimination"?

WD: @ RW : Thanks for the information re: Edmonton. I will keep that in mind. 
Super long-winded reply to follow. I will break it up into several comments.

WD: Regarding why people scream bloody discrimination, I don't know for sure -- I don't know the culprits personally and/or I don't know them well enough. Perhaps I am overreacting. 

I attended the CBC live radio talk on ethnic enclaves last Wed. Richmond is infamous for >50% Chinese residents, with an alleged reputation of folks who make no effort at inter-mingling beyond their own countrymen. 

That is followed by a public screening of "From C to C: Chinese Canadian Stories of Migration" documentary at Richmond last Saturday. Just yesterday, I got around to put the following feedback on the Facebook event page of the "From C to C" public screening .

> "Actually I was disappointed by the 2 ethnic Chinese panelist harping on-and-on about current discrimination (against ethnic Chinese) instead of focusing on how new immigrants can seek to overcome cultural barriers and contribute to the Canadian society. IMHO, playing the victim card will not help new immigrants assimilate."

WD: Yup, the 2 ethnic Chinese panelist were billed as "two other community experts". They are both accountants (presumably successful in their careers). One represented S.U.C.C.E.S.S. B.C. and the other an ethnic community support group. One originated from Taiwan and the other from Malaysia, both landed in Canada around 20+ years ago. 

IMHO, it is ironic that such successful immigrants instead of advising new immigrants (many from PRC) how to overcome barriers and achieve success, iterate on-and-on about current anti-Chinese discrimination (yes, specifically "anti-Chinese"). I wonder how these folks ended up with professional careers if the discrimination is as bad as they claim. Each of them cited 1 PRC immigrant (presumably different persons) who was discriminated against.

WD: One PRC example cited could not get his credentials recognized in Canada. While I don't know enough case-specific details to draw case-specific conclusions, I do know about some general trends. The "Canadian experience" requirement is a Canadian-wide phenomenon. These so-called community experts should have checked with other non-Chinese immigrants (especially "white" immigrants) if they faced the same issues. I can tell you that I know even "white" immigrants from European countries face the "Canadian experience" issue. And there have been news reports that even Canadians returning from overseas careers face the same "Canadian experience" issue. Instead, that "community expert" chose to frame it as a "specifically anti-Chinese discrimination" incident, by simply citing that a "white" person was hired instead of the PRC applicant.

Another PRC (Shanghai-nese) example cited had to accept an accounting position 2-rungs lower from his Shanghai position even though both jobs (in Shanghai and Canada) were with the same big name international accounting firm. I was thinking "Is the "community expert" being devious? Yes, the systems in the accounting firm may be standardized but, given his accounting background, surely he knows that there are significant differences in accounting laws from one country to another?" IMHO, 2 rungs below is no big deal if one is truly talented, because a talented person can/will overcome and be promoted eventually. Otherwise, how did the 2 community experts ended up with their professional careers? As the Chinese saying goes, "真金不怕火炼 ["Real gold is not afraid of being moulded by fire."]. Do these folks seriously expect to come into Canada and not have to adjust at all?

WD: Sad to say, given the above-cited examples, I went away from the post-documentary panel talk with a negative impression of the newly arrived “complaint-king” professional PRCs (which is opposite of my impression formed from some PRC migrants who are my friends in Canada and in Singapore). Frankly, even if these complaint kings moved from one Chinese major city to another, they would have to make adjustments, so why kick such a big fuss over the adjustments they have to make in an even bigger move to Canada? When the "community experts" cited that the main aim of migration for these PRCs was to create a better life for themselves and their family, especially their children, I am left wondering:
1. So they want to improve their lot and their children’s future but are not willing to put in the sacrifice?
2. Are these PRC immigrants pampered folks resulting from China's single child policy? That is, do they expect the world to revolve around them?
3. Or are they dumb enough not to do their own SWOT before taking the big step of emigration?
4. Or are they playing the victim card to leverage off the suffering of earlier historic Chinese migrants who are in no-way related to them?

RW: PRC who go to Singapore of course don't complain lah! They are valued MORE than local Singaporeans mah! And also Singapore full of chinese, they feel right at home. Perhaps one reason why you have that kind of people in Vancouver is because there are simply too many chinese in Vancouver. They think they are at home you see? I still think that having too many asians in the city will simply turn the place into another Singapore. Who knows 20 years from now, Vancouver will be just like Singapore.

WD: Lastly, when the community expert with the ethnic community support group cited that he repeatedly requested that Richmond board be more diverse, emphasizing the need to promote more ethnic Chinese into the board, I began to have serious doubts about his true intentions.

As far as I am concerned, I don't care about the ethnicity of the people running my town, province, and country. I only want the best people willing and able to hold the office, to serve the people, and to uphold Canadian values. I don't want an ethnic Chinese on the board just because he/she is Chinese if he/she is not the most willing and most capable candidate, not even for "diversity" sake. IMHO, using "diversity" as an excuse to displace a more suitable "visible majority" candidate with an inferior "visible minority" candidate in a position is a form of reverse-discrimination. History has shown that such "affirmative actions" will backfire in the long-run (e.g. Malaysia's "Bumiputra" policy).

I am generalizing here, but I think this is where Singaporeans stand out. We share the same value with Canadians -- recognizing ability and contribution regardless of race, language or religion.

RW: Yes, Singaporeans come from a multi-ethnic, multi-religion, multi-racial country. When my homestay student from Shandong China came to Edmonton, he said it was the first time he had seen any person with dark skin (eg africans, indians) in real life. In China, there are very few foreigners compared to the number of chinese. They are not accustomed to integrating. Remember that historically China closed her borders to the world. I do not think that it is the Chinese culture to accomodate outsiders.

WD: ‎@RW: "Perhaps one reason why you have that kind of people in Vancouver is because there are simply too many chinese in Vancouver. They think they are at home you see? "

You're right. I learned a sociology term for it recently. It's called "institutional completeness". My sociological lecturer thinks of it as mainly positive, but I think the cons of institutional completeness cannot be ignored. Otherwise Canadians in Metro Vancouver will have the same shit hitting them in the face, similar to what Singaporeans experienced from our open immigration floodgate. Already, I have seen a job advertisement for movers requiring the applicants to speak "Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese" -- I wonder at which point Canadians will feel squeezed out of the job market by the newcomers.
[Click here for an example of nationalistic discrimination favouring a specific foreign nationality in the Singapore job market. This runs against the Singaporean value of non-discrimination. Yet, such an incident no longer surprises the middle-class and working-class Singaporeans as such practice is rampant amongst recruiters of foreign origin who themselves gained a foothold in Singapore thanks to our non-discriminatory value, but who never assimilated, nor adopted such Singaporean values.]
RW: They already feel it in Vancouver. It is well known that the cause of high property prices in Vancouver is the influx of excessive number of PRC Chinese. As I had mentioned, the immigrants who move to Vancouver and Toronto are Liberal and NDP party supporters. Whereas the ones who moved to Alberta are Progressive Conservative Party supporters. It seems pretty clear that the type of immigrant who moves to Alberta is different from the one that moves to Vancouver and Toronto. Progressive Conservatives stand for social progressive and economic conservative ideas. I never moved to Alberta because of the politics, but I am glad I did because I think the social culture here in Edmonton suits me very well. I am economic conservative but socially progressive too. At my work I am the only non-white but I feel no discrimination at all. And neither am I looking to find anything either.

RW: Sometimes this "siege" mentality can backfire badly. [Note by WD: Click here and here for examples.] I can almost picture the situation in Vancouver might eventually escalate to that of France and Singapore. You don't want it to be a case where the Chinese protect their own, and form enclaves, hiring their own etc and the locals then have to "fight back". But it seems like it has happened in Richmond. Doesn't bode well in the long term.

WD:  ‎@ RW: I agree. That's why I was particularly appalled by the stance presented by the "community experts" at the post-documentary panel. If the leaders of a community encourage/inculcate such "siege" mentality in newcomers, then it is only a matter of time that a backlash will happen.

RW: WD, Actually there is no reason why we should be surprised by this. We came from Singapore and have seen how these foreigners behave. They call the radio and slam local Singaporeans openly even. Call Singaporeans to "appreciate" their efforts to come and help the country. Why would it be any different when people from the same country go to Canada? One of the reasons I stayed away from Vancouver. I wouldn't even go back there as a tourist to be frank!


[Addendum on 07-Jun-2012]

JH: A Singapore man who immigrated to Vancouver came back to visit his sick father told me that Canada is the best place to live in the world .It seems not true ?
[Note: JH is one of my PRC friends in Singapore.]
WD:  Hi JH,  It is true. Canada is in many ways better than Singapore if you're a "worker bee", especially in nursing.

What I am complaining about here is the attitude of some immigrants (especially the recent arrivals from PRC and the not-so-recent arrivals who are manipulating these PRCs). Instead of being grateful for the chance of a better life, these immigrants jump at any chance to complain of racial discrimination but fail to examine their own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats and how they can overcome the challenge of migration, adapt and contribute to their host country, Canada.

RW: One still has to work hard and strive to be successful. Perhaps some of these people think that by going to the "best place to live in the world" everything is going to fall at their feet or that it is their "right" to have it easy.


p.s. Remember AH? [Click here, here and here for blog entries featuring her.] She is one of the PRCs whom I personally know who claims racial discrimination whenever she can. In fact, at one of her previous jobs, she complained to the Assistant Store Director about racial discrimination, just prior to the 1st time she suddenly absconded to China because she couldn't cope with adjusting to life in Metro Vancouver. Oh ya, AH also lives in Richmond.


For a typical Singaporean perspective to migration and adapting to a host country, click here.

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