Insults to Chinese people cannot be allowed

By Cui Bowen Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/22 20:23:38

Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT

Normally, foreign celebrities' greetings on Chinese New Year can bring them closer to their Chinese fans and add to the fervor of the Spring Festival. However, a slip-up by J. J. Redick, Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard, has recently upset many NBA followers in China.

In a video compilation of NBA players sending seasonal greetings to fans celebrating the Spring Festival, the 33-year-old appeared to use a slur against Chinese people. "I just want to wish all of the NBA 'chink' fans in China, a very happy Chinese New Year," he said in the video.

A very offensive word, chink is used as an insulting and contemptuous term for a person of Chinese birth or descent.

The video was produced by the Chinese internet giant Tencent and another version of the compilation without Redick was released. Despite efforts to salvage his reputation, his remark has provoked a tide of denunciation among Chinese and foreign netizens.

Redick responded to the public uproar on Twitter early Sunday, saying "Clearly I was tongue tied, as the word I purportedly said is not in my vocabulary," adding that he has "love and respect" for NBA fans in China. He also issued a long statement on Sunday night to apologize for the verbal slip.

Although Redick apologized, his explanation has not eased the indignation expressed on the Chinese internet. I was wondering how the video was passed by NBA, which has always opposed racial discrimination, as well as Tencent, which has hundreds of millions of users. Ordinary people in the West dare not utter the word "negro" in public, then why are public figures allowed to blurt out insults to Chinese?

Insults to Chinese people by foreign sports celebrities occur from time to time. Chelsea footballer Robert Kenedy posted two videos on his Instagram account last year, one with a caption titled "Porra China" in Portuguese which translates to "F**k you China," and another of a sleeping security guard tagged, "Wake up China. You idiot." Kenedy made China slurs ahead of Chelsea's pre-season win over Arsenal in Beijing last July as a result of which he was sent home from the club's Asia tour.

China's rapid rise since the reform and opening up has increased its people's contacts with the rest of the world. With remarkable improvement in people's livelihood and their awareness of health and fitness, Chinese sports market is increasingly lucrative and profitable, attracting more foreign sports celebrities and famous sports clubs.

However, the incidents above show that some people in the West still harbor a sense of superiority over the East and refuse to accept China's rapid rise. Some foreign sports figures have made big bucks in China and developed many Chinese followers, but haven't paid due respect to the country and its people.

Despite its openness, China's sports industry has its own rules. Foreign sports celebrities accused of being racist and lacking respect for China are not welcomed by Chinese fans. They are shooting themselves in the foot by making such comments. Those aspiring to build a career in the Chinese sports market must draw lessons from these cases.

International sports celebrities must be prudent in their use of words and actions. Earning money but ignoring Chinese people's feelings cannot be condoned. Discipline will do them good. Otherwise, ill-mannered public figures will fall from grace in the Chinese market.

Besides, the public needs to keep an eye on celebrities' mistakes to help them change. Chinese people should be more aware of discriminatory incidents caused by ungraceful personal acts. We aren't doormats and shouldn't be generous toward ill-mannered celebrities. The Chinese belong to a powerful country and deserve respect from the West.

The author is a post-graduate student in translation studies at Beijing Language and Culture University.

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