Restaurant owner says "bananas" don't get importance of shark-fin soup

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      A Richmond restaurateur who opposes a regional ban on the sale of shark-fin products will not take shark-fin soup off his restaurant’s menu without a fight. David Chung, who owns the Jade Seafood Restaurant and is the head of the B.C. Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association, plans on petitioning, protesting, and suing the municipal government if a shark-fin ban in Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby is brought in.

      “I think this kind of thing is none of the business of the city, and it should be the judge[ment] of the federal government,” Chung told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview today (November 5). “City council, what do they know about sharks, really? They know a lot of things about development, health, education. They do a good job, but what do they know about sharks? Kerry Jang for example, what does this guy know about sharks?”

      Jang, a Vision Vancouver city councillor who convinced Vancouver’s Floata Seafood Restaurant to stop serving shark-fin soup in September, is in a war of words with Chung. In a recent interview with the Ming Pao newspaper, Chung called Jang a “banana”—a derogatory term used to label people of Asian descent who are seen as “too white”—and accused him of spearheading the shark-fin ban only to garner political votes. Jang responded to these comments in a November 4 interview with the Straight, saying that he felt that Chung’s remark was “initially racist” before deciding to take it as an “offhand compliment”.

      “His culture is totally Canadian, and he has no feeling for shark fin,” Chung reiterated to the Straight. “Canadian-born Chinese are based on Canadian culture....They’re called bananas for a good reason. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s not to be degrading. It just describes it well.”

      Chung, who was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada at age 18, said that Chinese people born in China and Hong Kong hold a different view on the importance of shark fin in Chinese food culture.

      “Chinese people from China or [those who] have been raised in China have been eating Chinese food all along, so shark-fin soup is the number one...the most prestigious dish on any Chinese menu,” Chung said. “If you take that away from the menu of an upscale Chinese restaurant or banquet hall, like ours, you’re missing something...you have a defect in the restaurant.”

      Chung also claims that people who are opposed to the sale of shark fin and support a ban have been duped by animal-rights activists. According to Chung, animal-rights groups, such as Shark Truth, who are concerned about shark extinction and animal cruelty, are distorting the issue.

      “Since 1994, the federal government of Canada has already banned finning. Anything that came back without the body of a shark would be fined very heavily, and that is not just Canada, it’s international—Europe, America,” Chung said. “Murder’s a crime but people still kill people, so I’m not saying that there’s absolutely no finning happening in this world. I’m quite sure there is, but we cannot—because of a few percentage of finning—say, ‘Do not eat shark fin. No, just eat the rest of the body. Ninety-seven percent of the body you can eat, but do not eat the fin.’”

      Most sharks, according to Chung, are caught in the North Atlantic Ocean, where finning is illegal. He said that consuming shark fin is more ethical than eating factory-farmed chicken. In response to concerns that shark consumption would ultimately lead to species extinction, Chung referred to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which lists the vulnerability of various shark species.

      “What we have imported commercially is not part of these endangered species,” Chung said. “All [of] the shark fin that we import comes with a certificate....People don’t know all the details. All they know is that these restaurants are selling endangered species—sharks.”

      Chung views the involvement of Vancouver city councillors in the proposed shark-fin ban as an attack on Chinese culture. He said that a ban would infringe on a person’s fundamental right to choose what to eat.

      “Do you want someone to ban your food on a city level? Tell you that you cannot eat this today, you cannot eat that tomorrow for not a good reason? It’s not a matter of whether banning this is going to affect your life. That’s not the issue. I’ll be honest with you, if I don’t eat shark fin for the rest of my life, I may not miss it at all....What we’re talking about, the right to eat our own food.”

      While Chung said that he would obey a federal ban on shark fin, he argued that it would not be in Canada’s best interest, from an immigration perspective, to support such a ban.

      “The whole thing would go back to China. People would label Canada as not friendly to Chinese, as not friendly to ethnic groups, [and] not a friendly country for Chinese to come to. I think it would really create a bad image,” Chung said. “You know all the multiculturalism going on in Vancouver in the last years has been very successful. I think people have been able to integrate, and it really has been a success story to tell the whole world. But something like this would really leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. It’s not a good thing to do at all. And we are not saving sharks by doing it.”

      You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.

      Comments

      37 Comments

      Birdman

      Nov 5, 2012 at 5:51pm

      I wouldn't have believed anyone could be this stupid, but I live in Vancouver and see the reality every day.

      Natty

      Nov 5, 2012 at 7:05pm

      David Chung displays his narrow-mindedness multiple times throughout this piece. Why is it wrong for a person of Chinese descent to be proud of his or her Canadian identity? I think every so-called "Banana" should band together to boycott the Jade Seafood Restaurant.

      happy guy

      Nov 5, 2012 at 7:37pm

      Chung is really desparate and not very smart. I will be advising all my friends and relatives to stop going to his restaurant, Jade. Keep it up Kerry.

      KatYat Chen

      Nov 5, 2012 at 7:49pm

      I am a first generation Chinese Canadian, born overseas, from a traditional family. I grew up with shark fin soup. I am in my 50s+ so I assume no one will classify me as either "young" or "banana". I don't get the "importance" of it either. It is about time shark fin soup be banned all over the world, not just in Canada. I, and my family, have stopped consuming shark fin soup. Chinese culture is not about wastefulness, boastfulness, cruelty , at least the one I know. Certainly there is a saying, "if you go to live in a village, follow the customs of that village." Now I call that Chinese culture. I understand some people say they want to share the best with friends and guests, but we don't have to wreck whole species and the ecology with it. How about hire some singers and provide some good music and a dance floor, your guests will love you for it. Thank you very much.

      skippy

      Nov 5, 2012 at 8:03pm

      The beauty of free speech. Thanks to GS for giving Mr Chung the platform. And mocking asian born Canadian's bicultural identity with a derisive term is good for Canada's image?

      I'm a banana...

      Nov 5, 2012 at 8:04pm

      and proud of it. I, like many others, have taken plenty of bashing throughout our lives from aunts, uncles and even strangers for being too "Canadian". God, I loathed being Chinese. As I've grown older, I've realised that I've absorbed the best characteristics, in my view, from both cultures.

      Just because something has always been done a certain way isn't justification to keep on doing it. In this case, it's about doing the "right thing" and applying that sensibility Canadians are known for.

      He's worried about his profit margin if he doesn't serve this soup. Instead, he should be thinking about what it will look like if he keeps opening his mouth and spewing nonsense like this.

      Y3RTL3

      Nov 5, 2012 at 8:37pm

      Where did the term Canadian mean WHITE come from? If Canadian means white, I can understand the hyphenating paradigm we have here in Canada. However It seems to be a concept steeped in ignorance and a racist perspective. The last time I checked here in Canada we have people from all ethnic and racial backgrounds. My family stopped calling themselves German-Canadians 5 generations ago maybe newly immigrated "Canadians" can practice what previous generations did to make this great country a nation.

      You're ignorant Chung and you don't want to be Canadian, your words reveal yourself.

      0 0Rating: 0

      Kerosene Lantern

      Nov 5, 2012 at 9:24pm

      I hope his lousy restaurant goes broke.

      An Orc

      Nov 5, 2012 at 11:18pm

      Stop trying to infringe upon my right to eat MANFLESH.

      0 0Rating: 0

      Terrible Tim

      Nov 6, 2012 at 1:57am

      This character David Chung claims that his Jade Seafood Restaurant, located in Richmond, is an "upscale" establishment.

      Nonsense. It is a bottom feeder, appealing to the lowest forms of gluttony.

      Mr Chung, abetted by Conservative MP Alice Wong, purports that eating shark fin soup is proof of the excellence of Chinese cuisine, and its necessity in Chinese culture. Rubbish.

      Mr Chung loses business every day that he continues his rancid and racist attacks on Kerry Jang, and on the many young Chinese Canadians who are also opposed to shark finning.

      Last year, a few Chinese Canadians actively opposed a hospice at UBC. They did so by claiming that having the dying near their costly condos would offend their culture. Rubbish. Such debased superstitions failed, and the hospice was built.

      Now, a few Chinese claim that their 'culture' will be offended if they are not allowed to practice their taste for shark fins.

      That argument will fail just as handily.

      This is NOT an attack on 'Chinese culture'. It is, in fact, an attack on greed, selfishness, and gluttony. Mr Chung will find his customer base drying up faster than Texas. And rightly so. Just check the Google Reviews his restaurant is earning these days.

      Not very smart, Mr Chung.