Canadian TV producer reflects on Chinese role abroad
In a discussion about how Chinese communities could better exercise their strengths as a “key minority” in politics in both the US and Canada, Canadian Chinese TV news producer, host, commentator and author of numerous published books Ding Guo spoke to a packed audience at MetroBank’s community center last Saturday.
Wea Lee, CEO of Southern China Daily News Group and the founder of Southern Chinese Writer’s Association, which invited Ding to the event, introduced the organization’s first speaker in 2014.
Ding, who visited Houston 13 years ago, was the organization’s first speaker of 2014. He began by marveling how much the Chinese community had grown in Houston.
“Chinese voices have been mostly heard from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver in the past, but now Houston’s Chinese will also be heard, because the vibrant local economy and a new direct flight to Beijing has fueled the growth of the Chinese population here,” Ding said.
Although he noted the community’s many positive contributions, Ding was also quick to note that the community’s Chinese-only business signs indicate a less than open attitude toward American society in general.
“Chinese tend to pursue a stable and quiet life overseas, but this is not enough,” he said.
“In Vancouver, Chinese could decide 17 districts’ election results by playing the role of a key minority,” he noted. “The left and right partisans are coming more and more toward the middle ground, which could lead to the situation where the minority Chinese would determine the outcome of elections. Houston Chinese should consider how to position yourselves and make yourselves count.”
Although Chinese are technically a minority in Canada and the US, he doesn’t view Chinese American history to be separate from the history of mainstream America and Canada, he said.
“During the gold rush and railroad construction time, Chinese were not just contributors of labor — we were part of history and built the foundation for the two nations’ development,” he said. “We need to have a sense of mission, and enjoying dim sum in China Town shouldn’t stop us from voting. ”
He also urged Chinese to reexamine so-called ingrained cultural traits, including those that assume Chinese should be hard-working, focusing on education and saving money. These qualities do indeed bring financial success, with the Chinese population now being able to claim the highest middle class ratio and the highest home ownership rates in the US.
However, “if we are measured by political participation, we are not successful at all,” Ding said. “We need to examine in-depth what cultural heritages of ours are advantages, and what hinders us from further advancement. The relationship between culture and success is worth examining.”
He also expressed his thoughts on what role Canadian and American Chinese should play between China, Taiwan and the US.
“China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are thriving economically, and due to different systems there exists some conflicts between China and the US,” he said. “Do we want to see a weakened US while China is growing stronger? We don’t, because our offspring are American or Canadian.”
Ding Guo speaks with a Chinese audience in Houston on Jan 18 about how Chinese communities might be more involved in mainstream society.