Restaurant owner calls Coun. Kerry Jang a banana for opposing shark fin soup

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      A Richmond-based Chinese restaurateur has claimed that Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang is "unfamiliar with Chinese culture" and "unable to understand the historical bond Chinese have had with shark fin".

      Jang has been the political point man on a campaign to ban shark-fin soup from local restaurants to prevent more of these ocean predators from being killed.

      David Chung, spokesperson for the B.C. Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association, told Ming Pao that Jang is doing this because he "was born in Canada and was influenced by western culture from a young age".

      "He is not Chinese; he is a banana," Chung, owner of Jade Seafood Restaurant, told Ming Pao in Chinese, according to an English-language article in the Hong Kong–based South China Morning Post.

      Jang recently persuaded Floata Seafood Restaurant to stop serving shark-fin soup.

      He told the Straight by phone he felt that being called a "banana" was "initially racist". (It's generally seen as a derogatory or racist term applied to people of Chinese descent who are perceived to be too "white".)

      However, Jang added that Chung's comment was also "validating" in that it demonstrated that as a politician, he's representing the whole community.

      "At first I was pissed off," Jang said. "Then, I thought, 'I guess I really am.' I should be reflecting all of Vancouver's values, not just one particular group's.

      "So at the end of the day, I took it as kind of an offhand compliment, but it took some intellectual energy to get there," he added with a laugh.

      Chung claimed in his Chinese-language interview that Jang was only doing this "to get cheap political votes".

      Canadians of Chinese descent have played a leading role in a popular movement against shark-fin soup, most notably with the grassroots group Shark Truth, which was founded in 2009.

      Jang said that he has received emails and letters from all over North American and Hong Kong after Chung called him a banana. Jang, whose family has been in Canada for several generations, revealed that he first heard the term in high school when there was a large group of Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong.

      The Chinese pioneers in Canada were known as the Lo Wah Kui, and, according to Jang, they were sometimes looked upon as bumpkins by the newer Hong Kong immigrants when he was young because their Cantonese was different.

      The irony for Jang is that when he was growing up, he was pigeonholed as Chinese by the rest of society, yet among the newer Chinese immigrants, he is sometimes seen as too "white".



      ex-Haney guy

      Nov 4, 2012 at 12:12pm

      What is with all this racism? And-why are always the white guys, er gals, er folk..race? always in the middle? Is that good or bad or..? Oreo, least it is compared to food. If there're any other
      "mixed" or "compiled" folk, or people; lets make a list. Maybe we could turn all this racism and ethnic bullying into new cuisine....and
      hold hands and sing "It's a small world.."
      PS, I agree with the end of shark fin soup-not that I like shark fin soup-I do, but it is unethical and we can't give up all our ethics just to be like our
      fearless leader -you know the puppet that can play a piano.


      Nov 4, 2012 at 12:25pm

      "Chinese Culture".....killing endangered animals over stupid superstitions for hundreds of years.


      Nov 4, 2012 at 12:59pm

      well, good reason to not frequent the Jade Seafood Restaurant. And that's exactly why it needs Chinese people to end this outdated Chinese "tradtion", not white people telling another culture what they can and can't do. Glad Jang is not discouraged by crap like that.

      Sarah B

      Nov 4, 2012 at 1:11pm

      Unlike western culture, which hasn't made a bunch of animal species extinct? Get your head out of your ass.


      Nov 4, 2012 at 2:02pm

      Tens of MILLIONS of Sharks die every year for a "HISTORICAL BOND" that is absolute bullshit Mr David Chung. Taken from website "It is true that shark fin soup dates back to China's Ming dynasty. However it was traditionally only consumed by a very exclusive and wealthy minority. To say that it forms a part of traditional culture for the majority of Chinese is disingenuous, as most Chinese were not in a financial position to ever consume this dish. It is only in the last few decades that consumption has risen rapidly. For example, according to Wild Aid "The number of consumers who can afford, or have access to shark fin, has risen from a few million in the '80s to more than 300 million today." It is also ironic that those who supposedly have a cultural interest in shark fin soup often display no concern for the conservation status of sharks, which after all would need to be maintained at sustainable levels in order to continue the supply of shark fins for the dish.
      What's more the shark fins used in shark fin soup come from all over the world, which means this is not just a Chinese or Asian issue. As well as threatening the survival of sharks in all the world's oceans, the irresponsible consumption of shark fin soup threatens other businesses such as dive centres which require a sustainable approach to marine life.


      Nov 4, 2012 at 2:05pm

      Extremely primitive.

      Tan BK

      Nov 4, 2012 at 3:03pm

      First of all, my credentials, before someone calls me a banana, I was born and raised in Hong Kong, I can speak and write Chinese. I consider myself a proud Canadian. I am not just bilingual, I am bicultural.

      Yes, I suffer the same fate as Kerry, I am considered "as Chinese by the rest of [non-Chinese] society, yet among the newer Chinese immigrants [or back in HKG], he is sometimes seen as too "white"."

      Kerry was right to take this 'banana' insult as a back-hand compliment: All elected officials should govern for everyone in his/her constituency. If one decided to govern only for those who voted for or supported one in the election campaign, one would not make a good elected official.

      This is universal.

      Taking shark fin is as just a Chinese culture issue is a narrow view of the problem.

      The larger view is that it is also environmental, it affects others' livelihood and survival.

      Sharks are at the top of the food chain, it's generally understood that the massive removal of the apex predator causes upheavals in the whole food chain on land and at sea. We human beings are but one of the apex predators.

      The protests by merchants who import and sell, restaurants who serve shark fin notwithstanding, I pay heed to scientific researcher more than the merchants concerns. Here's one example of such research from Yale University from 15 Sep 2011:

      "The Science review this summer and other recent research have highlighted the cost of cascades in other marine systems. Extirpation of great sharks along the eastern seaboard caused an irruption of rays and the collapse of a century-old scallop fishery, a glimpse of the future as shark populations crash worldwide. Overfishing of cod, a top predator of lobster and sea urchins, upended the coastal North Atlantic, producing hyper-abundant lobster and a market glut in the Gulf of Maine, as well as an urchin boom-and-bust cycle off Nova Scotia, where urchins have been periodically wiped out by disease."

      This is just one scientific evidence. There are many more.

      In this case, the sharks have not yet be wiped out worldwide, become extinct, but they are close to extinction.

      The 'interruptions' in the paragraph quoted above are facts.

      Look at the news reports coming out of the east coast. Lobsters on the east coast cost less than beef. Lobster fishermen find it not worth their while to put out to sea.

      To summarise, shark fin is not a cultural issue. It is an education, an environmental issue.

      The dealers of shark fins have to be shown the whys and wherefores of the harms caused by their trade. This is not dissimilar to the ban of ivory trade. The major differences are that elephants are not apex predators, and the results of the removal of sharks are not as easily visible as the removal of elephants. One can add tigers and lions to this sad list.

      I empathise with the loss of business of their trade of the shark fin fishermen, processors, importers and the restaurateurs, but like the Chinese idiom says, "When the horse dies, one has to get off and walk."

      I know of a 'gourmet' friend who is willing to pay whatever is required to eat "the last tiger." Let's hope this won't happen to any one of our fellow species on Earth.

      Mark Fornataro

      Nov 4, 2012 at 3:22pm

      Kerry Jang is going to be on the right side of history on this one and kudos to him for his hard work in combating this stupid and monstrous practice. Conversely David Chung is proving himself to be an out of touch, anachronistic fool.

      D. Zaster

      Nov 4, 2012 at 3:58pm

      Just goes to show, anyone can be racist, regardless of their ethnicity or whether or not they are part of the majority population.

      I lost any illusions about racism one day many years ago when I jumped out of the way of a car leaving a gas station. The driver (who I didn't see at first) almost ran me over. I was carrying a folded newspaper in one hand. I jumped, yelled and hit the trunk of the car with the paper as it moved onto the road.

      The driver slammed on the brakes and jumped out of the car, a large Cadillac. He was an Asian man in his 50s. He was very angry that I had hit his car. He closely looked at the trunk and saw there was no damage, and turned to me. Though he was clearly in the wrong, he was furious. I told him as calmly as I could that he should pay closer attention to where he was going.

      His response was to challenge me to a fight. He indicated a schoolyard next to the gas station, and by his gestures, suggested I walk to it ahead of him so we could have it out. I was probably 20 years younger than him and at least 6 inches taller. His challenge was absurd, but his rage had the better of him. I told him, "I'm not going to fight you. Maybe you should learn how to drive." I stood my ground and kept calm. I said nothing that could be construed as racist.

      The angry, sneering man got into his car, rolled down the window and said, "You're white shit". He drove away.

      I wished then, and still wish today, that I had beaten the daylights out of this petty little jerk. But at least he taught me a lesson that has made me immune to political correctness: anyone can be a bigot.

      Plum Duff

      Nov 4, 2012 at 4:39pm

      You're a stronger man than I, Mr. Zaster. Well done.

      I would have handed him his shit right then and there.