Vancouver residents sense rise in anti-Chinese sentiment in Canada

Poll

Do you think anti-Chinese sentiment is on the rise in Canada?

Yes 54%
185 votes
No 33%
112 votes
Unsure 14%
47 votes

Chinese people around the world will welcome the Lunar New Year on Sunday (February 10), but some Vancouver residents are sensing a rising tide of Sinophobia in Canada.

It’s a feeling that has stirred up memories of historical wrongs, like the head tax of 1885 and the Chinese Exclusion Act, which replaced it in 1923 and shut the door on Chinese immigrants until 1947.

It’s a foreboding that has come out of such things as a Nanos Research survey for CBC in October showing that Canadians see China as the greatest threat to Canada’s national security, ahead of Iran. There’s widespread opposition to the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement inked by Ottawa and Beijing. There’s also a lot of hostility to a Chinese state-owned corporation’s $15.1-billion purchase of the Calgary-based oil-and-gas company Nexen Inc.

Here in B.C., China figures prominently in debates about the construction of new pipelines to carry oil and fracked gas destined for Asian markets. It doesn’t help that for years, Vancouverites have accused Chinese people, both local and abroad, of snapping up Vancouver properties and making homes in the city unaffordable.

David Wong wonders why there’s so much “rhetoric” around the now-delayed plan to hire around 200 workers from China to work in a coal mine in northern B.C. The Vancouver architect pointed out that there is silence regarding the federal government’s plan to increase the annual quota for young workers from Ireland by 1,000, to 6,350, in 2013. Starting in 2014, the number of spaces for temporary Irish workers will rise to 10,000.

“The Chinese are just an easy group to single out,” Wong, author of the 2012 book Escape to Gold Mountain: A Graphic History of the Chinese in North America, told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

As chair of the Canadians for Reconciliation Society, Bill Chu successfully campaigned for an apology from the City of New Westminster for its past anti-Chinese policies. Chu also wants the B.C. government to acknowledge the province’s role in discrimination against early Chinese settlers.

According to the Hong Kong native, the dislike of Chinese people has only lain dormant and is apparently being roused by recent events. “Anti-Chinese sentiment has never really gone away from B.C.,” Chu told the Straight in a phone interview. “Historically, it was there.”

Labour unions played a key role in the formation of the Asiatic Exclusion League that rampaged during Vancouver’s anti-Asian riot of 1907.

But Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, doesn’t see anti-Chinese sentiment as being on the rise.

“I don’t believe that,” Sinclair told the Straight by phone. “I don’t think this is about Chinese. It’s about foreign ownership of our country.”

Sinclair emphasized that the labour movement opposed the Chinese acquisition of Nexen in the same way that it fought the attempted takeover by Australian mining giant BHP Billiton of the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. He added that the B.C. Fed has called for a moratorium on the recruitment of all temporary foreign workers.

Joey Hartman is the president of the Vancouver and District Labour Council. She’s not seeing any evidence of an increase in anti-Chinese views either. What she perceives is the “attention” being paid to China as an economic force. It is “catching people by surprise”, Hartman told the Straight by phone.

Focusing on the flap over the Chinese coal miners, historian Jim Wong-Chu noted that “in some ways, it’s a throwback, like it or not”.

“Every once in a while, this kind of thing rears its head and people that have these underlying feelings sometimes will become more vocal,” Wong-Chu told the Straight in a phone interview.

University of Manitoba academic David Camfield stressed that recent events should be understood within the context of Canada’s record in dealing with early Chinese immigration.

“All this racist history has left its mark on Canadian society, and it affects how people interpret these issues today,” Camfield, an associate professor of labour studies, told the Straight in a phone interview. He noted that the perceived re-emergence of Sinophobia is “probably true”.

Comments (96) Add New Comment
Mackenna
It is ridiculous to call the reaction to HD Mining's rejection of 300 Canadian coal miners, racism. This accusation is a strategic ploy to undermine the effort of ordinary Canadians to protect their jobs and their livelihoods. It has nothing whatsoever to do with race. If anything, the rage is directed at increasingly corrupt and sold out neoliberal and neoconservative governments and the greed of corporations.
Rating: +218
humble canadian
Overpopulated China, Vancouver is the most awesome city on the planet, bar any.

You see, the world came to North America and populated North America. In our lifetime, we can experience how the first nations felt as the foreigner occupied the lands, rivers, foods, everything. We all live on this planet. We make the planet what it is. We are running out of a few things, but wars and bombs are still big stuff!

In the 1950s China was commumism - a no no. Today evertything is made from China and the rest of the world doesn't make much. Lots of our food comes from China. See how the world is so funny.
Rating: -73
Adrien
Respectfully, I think there is misunderstanding here:

1. Individually, Chinese are ok, even great from the ones that I have met.

2. Communist authoritarian countries(like China) gaining more power and control in democracies, such as Canada, is a cause of concern. (and you should know why). It has not matured nearly enough socially to allow this. If China liberated jailed critics, had a fair court system, etc.. then this becomes more acceptable.

3. I agree that there is a lot of unfair comments of Chinese raising property values here, but I for one, do not blame them at all. Its simply scarcity of land causing the problem.

4. Foreign workers are ok in Canada, in my opinion, as long as they are treated the same as other workers here, with the SAME PAY. Irish, Chinese, its the same. If an Irish worker comes here and we pay them only $6 an hour for a $35 dollars an hour job, yes, I would have a problem with that too! I think Chinese,Canadians, Irish, and Mexican, and anyone should be treated the same in this country. (I think they deserve similar compensation back home too, but that is a different topic). If they can't give a decent wage when doing business here, they should not be doing business here. period.

4. Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement: Again, I am not against China!, just these types of agreements. 31 years is a long time. I understand countries want to protect their investments, but this being a democracy means that there is risk in investing here. One of them being that we elect (possibly) new leaders every 4 years.

We basically have the right to change our minds! We don't close mines or rip out pipelines after the fact unless we have VERY good reasons, and only after we've tried every other angle. Is this stance worth risking the loss of these investments? YES!

Rating: +128
Steve
In the words of our immigration minister, "the Irish are culturally compatible".
Rating: +112
Natty
I think dots are being connected where there aren't necessarily dots to begin with. The backdoor deals on foreign ownership of resource based Canadian properties upsets people no matter which country is angling for a piece of the pie. China just gets a lot of flack because it's the most prominent. People weren't exactly pleased about that Potash deal in Saskatchewan a few years ago with Aussie buyers.
The second piece about the foreign workers...I think it's insulting to both Canadians and the Chinese. Rather than train a native workforce because they would cost more, you want to import people for work? Not so much a racism thing, just a greedy corporation thing.
Rating: +138
CCP
I think the sentiment is that there is a strong refusal of new immigrants in general to not adapt and embrace Canadian culture, language. The importation of negative traits from abroad that don't fit into Canadian ethics and values. I could care less about the ethnicity of a individual but if they refuse to integrate into society that they so badly wanted to get into then it's going to rub Canadians the wrong way - If a Canadian immigrates to China, are they expected to integrate?
Rating: +186
Shawn
Ireland is part of the Commenwealth with Canada andd one of our historical allies. Red China is one of our most dangerous and decietful enemies. I question the integrity and loyalty of any politician who allows an enemy state to control our national resources.
Rating: +141
Brent
You are absolutely correct in assuming there’s racial tension. No one wants to talk about it, but there are many people that feel our country, BC especially has been invaded and colonized. Our mosaic system encourages all ethnicities and cultures, but has without a doubt created a ethnic enclave around parts of Metro Vancouver and most notably Richmond. The language barrier mixed with the undeniable fact that foreign money has raised housing prices is creating a large rift within the communities. The media has done a masterful job at spinning stories suggesting that our housing market has become this way based on demand, lack of available space, etc. Bull.

Housing prices between 2005-2011 in some places (Neighbourhoods in Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby) have doubled. A price doubling within a 5-6 year span is no accident. Bidding wars and agencies courting foreign buyers have created “dead” neighbourhoods. Houses remain empty, suites within new condo developments, sometimes multiple suites are vacant because of foreign investment. Does this create a community? We have an entire generation that will find it now ALMOST impossible to live the dream of home ownership. Wonderful.

I think the largest problem at play though is the fact that we have individuals living In Canada forcing and imposing their culture on others, and then complaining they feel their own culture isn't being respected. How does this nonsense make any sense? If we as Canadians can't come together and learn to respect each other, over a COMMON language; English perhaps, than we are due for some uncomfortable times indeed.

If you want a real good read, look up Operation Sidewinder in Google. It’s a riveting read from our spy agency CICIS. Our then Chrétien government swept this little doozy under the rug. This is not fear mongering, this is fact. It's time our government did something about it.
Oh Canada..
Rating: +210
birdman
Chinese seem to confuse their race with their nationality. Their loyalties are therefore questionable
Rating: +107
Dave Ball
I don't think it's Chinese individuals in particular that people dislike, it is the Chinese authoritarian and non democratic government that causes so much concern. Doing business with them seems akin to doing business with gangsters. And selling their government Canadian private companies should cause alarm, and no one should have concerns over race baiters, those thowing down the race card, or wailing about racism. I dispute that is what the general sentiment is about.
But as Canadians, it is well known that we are hypersensitive about any mention of race and some perceived horror at being called racist.
Some who wish to further the Chinese government's agenda will do that - bring up long past racism.
Well, China's a country, not a race. And their government is dangerous. I may be paranoid - but that doesn't mean there isn't a conspiracy.
We sing it regularly - "stand on guard for thee" - so don't let anyone tell you to back down when you do so.
Rating: +133
iSheep
While there is no doubt about Canada's racist history towards Chinese, East Indians & First Nations that is NO longer the Mainstream.

Instead Communist China & it's supporters are practising Racism and indeed Genocide (TIBET) on a Global basis.

In Africa Communist China Government supported Resource Development live in GATED ETHNIC HAN ONLY Compounds, ditto in some parts of South America.

In Canada Communist China is using Corporate Law & the new Trade Treaty with Canada to give it's Communist State Controlled Companies (Any Company large or Small must toe the Communist Party line and be a SERVANT of the Communist Party).

Communist China & most Communist Han Chinese are supporters of the Racist and Anti-Immigrant policy in China.

Canada vs China Racism.

I find it illogical to tie in the Union movement which is based upon a long history of poor immigrant labour to Racism.

In fact the Unions are fighting for Canadians rights vs ANY Foreign Corporate Import Labour.

Mr. Wong makes Factual events sound like Racism and/or slights against 'Chinese People' when that's simply not the Case.

For example mostly wealthy by Canadian standards Hong Kong Chinese migrated in to Canada in the 1990's fearing the Communist China takeover of Hong Kong.

In FACT that and the subsequent mainland wealthy Chinese buying property DID and DOES drive up Property Prices more than it would otherwise.

Perhaps Mr. Wong needs to reacquaint himself with Supply & Demand Economics 101.

Communist China Threat.

If Mr. Wong thinks that Communist China is not a great threat to Canada perhaps he has his head in the Sand.

Mr. Wong China has specifically targeted Canada both Politically and Militarily by way of Cyber Warfare infiltrating Canada's almost ALL of Canada's I.T Government Infrastructure.

Politicly Communist China has put in place a wide range of DUAL Citizens who have Business & Communist Party Ties as Candidates in Canada Federal Elections across the Country from virtually all the major parties.


Mr. Wong Chinese business in Canada employ mostly ethnic Chinese is that not Racist?

Mr. Wong why do you GLOSS OVER & NOT Call to Account the violations of Racism & Human Rights by Communist China? Afraid it may hurt business?

No one is suggesting that Canada is perfect & some racism does not exist but Canada is FAR more tolerant than most Countries and your examples are Bogus.
Rating: +124
Weston
Well it seems the Tension currently is stemming from housing prices? I mean friends of the family are from China and have bought three houses over the last 10years, all over million and one in point grey now. And well since our family was born in Canada we cant afford houses in Vancouver. But that being said i'd move here too, but look at Orange County California, thats a major destination of asian people too, the huge local mall had as many asians as richmond. And if you read what is happening do you blame them for leaving their country? where ownership of property is not allowed but borroed from Government for a set number of years [usually 99] so you cant leave anything to your children

Because I doubt people are complaining about inexpensive dinners at dimsum places or what not
69
92
Rating: -23
Mark Bowen
Bullshit that this is about racism. What a weak ass diversion attempt.

This is about China the COUNTRY (and handing over our resource wealth to them so that a handful of Canadian investors can get insanely rich to the detriment of the rest of our nation), NOT Chinese PEOPLE, period.
Rating: +147
N/A
Reading through the comments above, I find that no one agree with the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment, and yet all of these comments are left by apparent non-Chinese readers.
Rating: -90
Rolf
White Canadians will always be racist against Chinese. Its a fact. luckily we are strong in numbers here in Vancouver so we arent afraid.
Rating: -181
Victor Wong
There is an anti-China bias in much of the mainstream reporting today and this leads to racialization of issues and anti-Chinese sentiment here in Canada.

Back in 2011, a little girl in China was run over by a vehicle and passersby ignored her. There were at least 8 differnt stories about this on CNN. Workers ignored an Ontario woman who was injured in front of a local hospital - I saw one story in the Toronto Star.

Numerous news stories quote China as a rising power which sounds like a line out of The Lord of the Rings. The reality is that 200 years ago, China and India made up more than 60% of the world's GDP and this was the reason that Britain and other European countries sought trade ideology arrangements, then concessions, and then unfair treaties. A racist ideology emerged from this period and exists in our attitudes and approaches today.

The anti-China bias crowds out the real controversy around the Chinese coal mine investments. Should BC be extracting carbon-print-coal for export? I'm not sure if we've had a proper debate about this. If exports are ok - presumably for the jobs and economic benefits, then should Canadian workers be hired and trained for these jobs? The foreign temporary worker's program has become a subsidy for companies where they are able to recruit workers from overseas, legally pay them up to 15% less than Canadian workers and avoid training cost for local workers. Such a strategy at this point in the economic cycle where there is a labour surplus (ie. 5 unemployed workers for every job vacancy in Canada) is bound to generate resentment.

One solution is to call a timeout and get all the stakeholders - the company, the federal, provincial and municipal authorities and the unions into one mediation, one that respects Canadian workers.

Victor Wong
Chinese Canadian National Council
Rating: -54
Democracy
from what I see - many are brainwashed from years of Communist programming, unable to think, socialize and contribute like many westerners have been brought up in Democracy. China is not very compatible with Canadian values system of Democracy and thus Canadian immigration should be directed to democratic countries like the commmonwealth and South America. In my experience at work and in school the Chinese were not keen to learn Canadian culture or make friends outside of the Asian culture, nor did they display much desire to do so. Coming to Canada is more than getting off a plane and acting as thought you are still in your old country. I expect it will get worse in Canada with Canadians demanding the govt change immigration policy. A friend whose parents immigrated in 1960 seemed to integrate quite well - why are those coming now failing to do so?
Rating: +88
John
There are two sides of this situation. Yes there are a lot of idiot racists out there, who are singling out Chinese for questionable activities that many other groups do just as often. But, there are also legitimate reasons why people may have issues with Chinese immigration and business activity in BC.

Take the environment issue for example. While this is of course a generalization, it is pretty apparent that Chinese-Canadians ON AVERAGE care less than your average Vancouverite about the environment. Styrofoam containers, unsustainable meat and seafood, it's all on show at a higher proportion of Chinese restaurants than others.

The problem is this kind of talk is not really allowed in public conversation in Canada, and so it becomes difficult to try to improve a problem that no one will publicly admit exists.

I think we would do a lot to lower anti-Chinese sentiment if we were more open about communication, and then things wouldn't quietly simmer so much, then leading to periodic outbursts that lead to accusations of BC being a "racist" place.

Also, agree with others who say that it is very important for Chinese people to not play the race card and imply that criticism of the Chinese government and their horrific policies in African and elsewhere is simply out of racism. That will only cement negative attitudes towards them.
Rating: +71
Rob Stome
There is a rise in resentment against the Chinese government and it's because they're trying to highjack our resources. Canadians shouldn't feel ashamed for standing up against these tyrants. There are many people in Vancouver of Chinese heritage that would agree with this. The people playing the race card are just Communist Party hacks trying to manipulate our economy.
Rating: +94
James G
I am in agreement with the comments above by Mackenna, Mark Bowen and Victor Wong. Disclaimer: I am Caucasian although my husband is Asian.

I would like to add a few footnotes: firstly, forever remember for better or worse that Vancouver is not British Columbia nor Canada. Sentiments expressed in our city may be less or more accepting of differences than elsewhere in the nation as anyone who grew up gay will be all too well aware.

Second, let's not succumb to that old W5 nastiness of intentionally confusing everyone who emigrated from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China or any point in the Chinese diaspora, mix them together with those born here and present the total as a threat. I remain full tilt enraged about FIPPA and would feel exactly the same about it should the other country involved be Great Britain or any other. It is a hasty, secretive, undemocratic and unpatriotic initiative intended to help corporate interests bypass environmental protections and civil rights. My opposition is surpassed by that of my Taiwanese-born husband who sees the Peoples Republic of China as more of a threat than I.

Third, as the son of a coal miner, I disagree that there are no persons already in this country looking for work in that brutal profession. It is my opinion that the company involved is simply looking for cheap labour full stop.

Fourth, if you want to look back in time as far as 1907, you can find a totally racist society and not have to single out trade unions, who at least since the 1950s have been loyal and hard working allies of every civil rights initiative that society came to require.

Fifth, this City of Vancouver has had it's reputation so overblown by poorly researched articles in the 'Economist' and others and also grabbed the worlds attention sufficiently with the Olympics that it was bound to host an influx of money looking to invest in property. Most of us who have had to deal with the consequences of the resultant higher cost of living care not where the money originated. It could have come from Wales or Patagonia and had the same effect. Objecting to higher rents and impossible realty prices does not a racist make.

Mr. (David) Wong seems to think he can tie a number of issues together to make his case but ignore context. I think you have a harder time trying to fight discrimination by being a demagogue.

Rating: +69

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