Sunday, August 16, 2009

China warns students about racist attacks in Australia

First it was India up in arms about the numerous bashings of their students in Australia. Now China has expressed concern as well, warning students of threats to their safety. It comes after a recent road rage attack on Chinese students in the Gold Coast. Three young men were charged with assault after they pulled their car alongside that of the four students and attacked them, leaving one of them with a broken cheekbone. The 17-year-old driver was additionally charged with drink driving.

Was it a racist attack? Dunno. This sort of thing does happen quite a bit, regardless of ethnicity, but I don't doubt that their foreign-ness, and the perception of Asians as a soft target, increased the likelihood of the attack.

Recently there was also an attack on 2 Chinese men as they left a pokie venue in north Adelaide. 2 young men aged 20 and 21, one of whom was draped in an Australian flag at the time, bashed the men and took their wallets, then continued drinking at the pub. Again, it's not necessarily racist, but looks suspiciously so.

And of course I posted recently about the teenagers sentenced for the manslaughter of Chinese student Yuxiong Han in Melbourne last year. Racist motivation is not clear either, but read the account of some of the teens involved and you can almost smell the hint of racism in the air.

Let's not deny it - Asian people in general, South Asian or East Asian, are more vulnerable than other types of people to attack in Australia. While there is really no KKK-style organised hatemongering here, there is an entrenched dislike of anything foreign or different amongst a lot of people. A kid in one of my classes the other day casually joked about throwing eggs at transvestite prostitutes in St Kilda. I think it is part of the same spectrum of behaviour - someone who is different and is an easy target being victimised.

Easy target? Yes. It's a stereotype with many exceptions, but broadly speaking, Asians tend to be less aggressive and macho than people of European, African, Pacific Islander or Middle-Eastern background, and therefore less likely to pose a threat when attacked. It's a character trait that has actually helped Asians succeed as migrants, but it also makes them easy prey for cowardly thugs.

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