By Jason Wang
This narrative is in response to the Stuff Article written by Susan Edmunds, posted at 05:00 on 10 April 2020. This article is titled ‘New Zealanders ‘caught short after masks sent to China”
I feel I need to address incorrect facts and implied xenophobia in the article published today. I would also like to be clear that these are my own personal views, not of Icehouse Ventures initiative.
I was initially contacted by the journalist following a blog post by The Icehouse about Eden Ventures’ donation of PPE to China at a time their fight against COVID-19 was desperate. Although the blog post was in March, the PPE was sent to China in the period between late January and February, when New Zealand had no cases of the virus.
The article begins that New Zealanders have been left short of PPE and masks because they have been shipped to China. These reports are said to have come from shoppers around the country, despite the New Zealand Government assuring New Zealand that we have enough. It is worth noting that no masks were included in our shipment. These were sent earlier by the CFO of iFLYTEK, procured overseas.
A professor from the University of Canterbury reiterates a common xenophobic rhetoric of Communists controlling the world, as apparently PPE was brought by ‘Chinese Communist Party Government proxy groups’. Who are these proxy groups? The rhetoric at play here is simply to continue the West’s archaic view that China is an evil that wishes to profit at every opportunity and take everything from everyone else.
At the end of the article, the journalist admits that a spokesperson from the Ministry of Health said there was no shortage of masks. We are receiving more this month and have a significant ability to produce face masks onshore.
The article itself seems particularly arbitrary, as if you read the whole thing, the title becomes redundant. The title claims that New Zealanders have been ‘caught short’ after masks were sent to China, however the article makes clear that the Government knows we have enough.
So, what was the point of this article then, if not to embarrassingly contradict everything that was said at the beginning of the article?
Contradictory articles like this, with no clear point, have only one objective. This objective is to pass blame onto a group of people that we, as a nation, know little about.
The action taken by the group of people I work with was to help humanity. It was to show that we care, and to show that we wanted to help stop the spread of this virus so it wouldn’t arrive in New Zealand. Unfortunately, it did anyway, despite our best efforts.
Families will do anything to protect their own. Those Chinese families that bought PPE to send back to their relatives in China did this as it is the human thing to do. It’s the same as those people that come from developing nations with the goal of working to provide for their families back home. Do we accuse these people of stealing the wealth of the nation they are working in, or of draining foreign reserves? We don’t, because it’s the human thing to do. It’s because they care for their family and their country.
I am a Chinese living in New Zealand, who has dedicated his career to support and foster New Zealand entrepreneurship and innovation. My job raises funds partly from local Chinese immigrants who call New Zealand home, as well as from Kiwis who were born and raised here. These funds help to create successful New Zealand founded businesses. As a Chinese minority, I feel that the rhetoric in this article is directly trying to instigate hatred and xenophobia towards China and Chinese people. I feel this does not align with the values of acceptance that Kiwi’s champion as a large part of their culture that I embrace as my own. The rise of this blind rage is not supported by facts. It’s simply fuelled by fear, perpetuated by pointless, targeted articles and news like this.
The point is clear: it is simply not acceptable. I implore our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, to address this rhetoric head-on. Based on events that have happened in our recent history, and the support other minorities have received, I can only ask that the Chinese people receive the same treatment. Xenophobia is not welcome in New Zealand and the media should not be used as a channel for defamation.
I’m not sure if Jacinda Ardern will read this article, but I’m afraid that if I don’t raise this at all, the brewing xenophobia may bubble over into something that will impact on the Chinese Community and it may be too late to act.
On a positive note, when reading the comments on this article, people were mostly indicating that they are not missing the underlying messages that it was trying to send. That’s why I thought it was worthwhile taking the time to provide an alternative narrative to help spread what others may also be thinking. It was interesting to note that just a few hours after publishing the article however, comments were turned off on the post.
I have just one last thing to note. The initial trigger for me to write this was an email that was sent to me this morning.
This is an indication of the kind of impact articles like this one have. I hope my narrative is able to provide a point of view other than what we often see in mainstream media outlets and gives the general population something else to consider.