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Is There Really a Crackdown or Just Media Hype ..... ?   [Copy link] 中文

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The Three Illegals, or The Crackdown on Foreigners in China

By Wade Shepard on June 2, 2012  

Vagabond Journey com

On May 15th the city of Beijing announced a 100 day crackdown on foreignresidents living in the city. Under the banner of smashing the “Three Illegals”of immigration — illegal entry, overstayed visas, and working without a permit— the police began setting up passport checkpoints in areas popular withforeigners, going into Western oriented bars to document check everyone with aforeign face, began doing door to door checks in areas where many foreignresidents reside, and, in general, began searching for foreigners who may haveviolated the terms of their immigration. A special hot-line has even been setup so that the public can report on illegal or otherwise suspicious foreigners.Other cities, such as Chengdu and Yanbian have joined the crackdown, and it’spossible that the movement may spread nation-wide.

I find nothing wrong with this, in and of itself. It’s annoying, butdocument checks of foreign looking people are common throughout the world. Theyhappen in Guatemala, they happen in Germany. When they are done in the USA thepublic cries racism, but this sentiment is not shared on a global scale. If I’min a foreign country and the police ask to see my passport I show it to them.When you go abroad you put yourself on another legal plane, and you give up afew of the rights that you may have in your home country. This is part of themodern World Travel experience, and is not something to whine about.

But how do the Chinese police know who’s a foreigner? That’s simple:foreigners are people who look like foreigners. Political correctness is anAmerican phenomenon, the rest of the world has no difficulty calling a spade aspade, a gringo a gringo, a laowai a laowai. Unless it degrades into harassmentrequesting foreigners to show their immigration documents is not a sign ofxenophobia — it’s normal police behavior the world over.

There are over 600,000 foreigners reported as living in China. That’s nearlydouble the population of Iceland. Thousands are English teachers, many arestudents, a handful are university professors, an ever growing number arechemistry/ pharmaceutical researchers, many are quality control personnel,others are business people, while a relatively large number are Africansworking in miscellaneous labor sectors. In point, there’s an entire nation ofexpats living across China. The population is so large that it’s beginning tohave an impact on broader Chinese society — 600 thousand foreigners don’t livein a country without changing it. But China’s opening up to foreign residentshas not come without ripples, and signs of age old reactionary, xenophobic, andnationalistic tendencies do rear their heads every once in a while.

My wife and some of her coworkers were called to a meeting with the policeyesterday in Taizhou. It was also Children’s Day — a Chinese holiday — and thepolice requested that my wife bring our daughter. The police showered my kidwith cake, praise, smiles, and she left with a big bag of candy. They also gavemy wife and her compatriots a talk about security. “We don’t want what happenedin Beijing to happen here,” one of the police officers said.

What happened in Beijing?

This:

On the night of May 8th a young British tourist reputedly sexually assaulteda Chinese girl in the street. This video went viral on Chinese television andsocial media sites, was watched millions and millions of times, and was thespark which ignited a flame for the expression of anti-foreign sentimentswithin the country. The crackdown on illegal foreigners in Beijing started sixdays after this incident occurred, and although the government denies there isa connection, it is a very thinly veiled denial.
The ensuing reaction to this video in China and the subsequentcounter-reaction in the Western media has caused a whirlwind of hell fire on aninternational scale. On one side some Chinese netizens have vented their rageand both the British guy and at all foreigners in general — even bringing intothe fray such remote seeming topics as the Huangyan Island debate and themistreatment of Chinese workers on the railroads in 1800′s America. This videoreleased the valve on a social pressure cooker, and many Chinese people used itas an excuse to bash all foreigners living in China. The pinnacle of theseanti-foreigner rants came from an unlikely direction: Yang Rui, the host of a talkshow on China’s English language channel. Rui’s audience is almost solelyforeigners living in China, and he had this to say about them:

The Public Security Bureau wants to clean out the foreign trash: To arrestforeign thugs and protect innocent girls, they need to concentrate on thedisaster zones in [student district] Wudaokou and [drinking district] Sanlitun.Cut off the foreign snake heads. People who can’t find jobs in the U.S. andEurope come to China to grab our money, engage in human trafficking and spreaddeceitful lies to encourage emigration. Foreign spies seek out Chinese girls tomask their espionage and pretend to be tourists while compiling maps and GPSdata for Japan, Korea and the West. We kicked out that foreign @@@ and closedAl-Jazeera’s Beijing bureau. We should shut up those who demonize China andsend them packing.


It sounded like satire but the guy was serious. A whole slew of other veryagro anti-foreign statements have also surfaced in Chinese media, and “Illegalforeigners” was the top hash-tag on China’s version of Twitter for a few days.A spark had ignited a small fire in China, but instead of trying to smother itthe Western media — and governments to a small degree — have decided to fan theflames with retaliations. They have taken a relatively minor inter-culturalmedia skirmish and have made it out to be an all out “us against them” battle.

Foreigners targeted in China crackdown by CNN_International


Fox News reported that “Foreigner-bashing rises amid China’s domestic woes.”

CNN claimed that the “Mood darkens in Beijing,” and did a video segment thatfocused on an American girl named “Emily” who was crying about how she thinksChina is not going to let her renew her student visa.

The New York Times reported on how a “wave of nationalism” has swept acrossChina and how “Sentiments against foreigners have flared.”

From reading the Western media’s reporting of the fallout from the attemptedrape incident you may think that foreigners are being beaten in the streets ofChina, that we’re the target of xenophobic slurs and police harassment, butthis could not be further from the truth.








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Part 2


The practical impact of the incident

Chinese society has a very thick insider/ outsider dichotomy. When a foreigner does something here it serves as an example of all foreigners. An American who gave French fries to a beggar lady in front of a McDonalds was made into a national news item which reflected favorably on all Westerners, while the alleged attempted rape incident by the Brit reflects poorly on every foreigner in the country. Every individual in China represents the cultural entity they are affiliated with, and this is as true of Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Hui as it is for Americans, Russians, and Europeans. There is no way around this. But how much of this cultural uniform wearing actually filters down to actual inter-personal conflict is questionable, as the Han Chinese often want foreigners to think highly of them, and even if they hold very obtuse sentiments about a particular cultural group, they will very rarely voice it to the person of this group directly.

I’ve traveled to four or five different cities in Jiangsu province since this rampant “outbreak of anti-foreigner sentiment” supposedly began. How many xenophobic outpourings have I been the victim of? None. I’ve experienced nothing but the generally friendly, helpful, and curious people of China — along with those who just stare at me funny. Business as usual.

I did not even know that China was in a “xenophobic uproar” until well after the fallout from the attempted rape incident had settled. Nobody — none of my Chinese friends, my Mandarin teacher, taxi drivers, hotel workers, the doorman of my apartment, my wife’s Chinese coworkers, the crowd at the bar I go to — not one single Chinese person has even brought up anything about this incident or anything about the social flair up that had ensued. I’m not out in the hinterlands of the country either, I’m smack in the middle of Han China, right around Shanghai. If I have not experienced any sort of racist sentiment here I seriously doubt I would feel it anywhere.

In point, if masses of Chinese people are spouting off xenophobic statements on their social media accounts they are doing a good job of keeping them to themselves in person.

Conclusion

It is my impression that this entire situation — the xenophobic ravings and the immigration crackdown — have been blown out of proportion on all sides. Life in China continues as usual for foreign residents. Despite some conservative sects of Chinese society using this attempted rape incident to fuel nationalism prior to the once in a decade national election and the West using the fallout as a crutch to further prop up their media cold war, living in China is still very good for us laowais.

Though we all seem to know how volatile this country can be. At any time China could flip the switch and send all of us foreigners packing. Deep down, I think many of us expect this to happen some time soon. Things have perhaps been too good for too long. With each incident of a foreigner getting caught on video being a jackass, with each laowai who commits a crime, with each inter-cultural conflict, with every East vs. West political battle the expat communities of China shudder — for we know that the tide could quickly be turned against us, and a “crackdown” on illegal residents could easily turn into big boot in the ass for all of us.

It has happened all throughout history here: China opens up to foreign influence, investment, immigration just to close back up again.

As I spend my days in Taizhou and traveling around Jiangsu province, studying Mandarin, talking with people in the streets, drinking with friends, I report that there are very little anti-foreign sentiments being aired loudly. China is as friendly as I’ve always known it to be. I just hope that it remains this way.


What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left  -   Oscar Levant

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Post time 2012-6-22 00:08:36 |Display all floors
Seems like a balanced article  .............   




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Post time 2012-6-22 00:50:45 |Display all floors
I don't like terms like"crackdown". Of course illegal aliens should be deported....but there's no need for a "crackdown". In Germany police won't do crackdowns on aliens.They will occasionally ask supspects for their passports....at train stations etc. But in China, by doing a "campaign" against illegal foreigners, they stigmatize all of us. The police should always do their job...not only during special "crackdowns".
Patria est ubicunque bene/Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit

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Post time 2012-6-22 01:43:41 |Display all floors
Alex2010 Post time: 2012-6-22 00:50
I don't like terms like"crackdown". Of course illegal aliens should be deported....but there's no ne ...

Um  ......... ?

Thanks for that idea  ..........

But it is the foreign media that use that term and not China  ......

In fact I wish they would not stigmatize China by using it  .........

And you picked up on the idea ..........

And of course China does not use the word about itself  .........

You like me probably go about our life here without hassle  .......

That is why I posted this article  ...........

'Crackdown' is a media compliant term for the people back home  .........

Those here already know that this is a fallacy ...........





What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left  -   Oscar Levant

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Post time 2012-6-22 21:25:36 |Display all floors
Have you been hassled to show a passport in China recently ........

Or was this all hype ........  ?

I certainly haven't  ........   



What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left  -   Oscar Levant

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Post time 2012-6-23 00:36:36 |Display all floors
It’s annoying, butdocument checks of foreign looking people are common throughout the world


Why don't they just check at the borders?

Frankly speaking, I never saw anyone having their passports check (except when there were general checks at some travelling points like Airports or Train stations where everyone gets checked). I only witnessed drug checks, where the police took dogs along and checked the people if the dogs smelled something...

In China, the hotels have to report if they rent a room to a foreigner (but often don't do it, especially in smaller towns). Then you'll have problems if you want to extend your visa or so. This and other simillar annoyances have been adding up in recent years... so I genuinely hope that China will be more reasonable in the future and implement more efficient and less annoying controls of the few foreigners living there.

Personally, I am rather unhappy about the new xenophobia campaign by the Chinese government - be it by actions or just in the media. While Chinese people are generally very warm-hearted and welcoming towards guests, the new government currently does everything to give foreigners a hard time in order to promote "nationalism". I do understand that China is facing politically and economically difficult times and that the social harmony is threatened - but this kind of measures are very short-sighted for an export-oriented country like China. It makes China lose soft power which scares investors off and making purchase managers looking for suppliers in countries where they are more welcomed - thus, the economy will be harmed in the long term, american politicians will gain votes by implementing protectionist measures against China and finally, everyone loses.

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