Woman’s “Go Back to China!” Rant Draws Mixed Reactions on Weibo

A video that shows a woman in Toronto telling Chinese shop asssistants to “go back to China” for not speaking English is widely discussed on Chinese social media. Anti-Chinese or anti-Asian racism has become a recurring topic of debate on Weibo recently.

Over the past week, the video of a woman berating employees at a Chinese shop in Toronto for not speaking English has gone viral on Facebook. The video was posted on June 2 by a teenager named Frank Hong. The video has received over 1,3 million views on Facebook and over 126,000 views on YouTube.

The original post by Frank Hong.

“This is Canada, English-first country,” the woman tells the staff: “If you’re gonna work here, it is the law to know English.”

Several media point out that, according to the Official Languages Acts, there is actually no law requiring private workplaces to employ English speakers. Only employees at federal institutions need to provide service in French or English.

 

“There are so many foreigners living in China who do not speak a word of Chinese!”

 

“It is the law to know English, and you know that,” the woman continues in the video. When other customers offer the woman to translate for her (“It’s okay, we can help”), she says: “I would like to buy food, but these people should speak (..) It’s not okay that you can help.”

The original video, posted by Frank Hong.

Her rant continues: “All these people working here, the law states you need to speak English. If not, then go back to China.”

Earlier last week, the video was also shared on Chinese social media (with Chinese subtitles) by various media. It received thousands of shares and mixed comments from Chinese netizens.

On Weibo, many commenters respond with anger and sarcasm. One person said: “So now we can also start telling foreigners in China ‘you’re in the Celestial Empire, now you need to speak Mandarin’.”

“There are so many foreigners living in China who do not speak a word of Chinese!”, a typical comment said.

“This woman is just making trouble for no reason. This is probably a Chinese shop that mainly has Chinese customers, so the staff doesn’t speak English. She could just get another customer to help her order. If she doesn’t like it, she shouldn’t go there.”

 

“If this is required by law, then she is right.”

 

But there were also many netizens who showed some understanding from the woman. Most Chinese media outlets sharing this video did not mention anything about the woman’s false claims regarding the requirement to speak English in Canadian shops; many netizens assumed her claim was right.

“If this is required by law, then she is right,” many wrote.

“What kind of law is this, isn’t this foolish?” some wondered.

“These are shop assistants, and language is the most important part of their service. Even if this is in a Chinese area, it is still Canada,” one comment said.

“I think the media hyped this a bit,” one person wrote: “And I don’t understand Canadian law. But suppose you want to pay at the supermarket and there’s only a foreigner speaking French, what would you do? This woman should not act so rude to the cashier, but should find the person in charge of the supermarket instead. Her main idea is right, but she has a problem with her character.”

 

“One word says it all: Asian.”

 

Recently, the discrimination of (ethnic) Chinese and Asian people in western countries have often become trending topics in China. In April, the removal of a passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight sparked outrage worldwide, but especially stirred controversy on Chinese social media for its alleged racist motives.

The concerning passenger, Dr. David Dao, was initially thought to be Chinese-American. He was later was confirmed to be Vietnamese-American. The US-Chinese comedian Joe Wong connected the incident to racism against Chinese on his Weibo post, which received over 15,000 shares.

Joe Wong on Weibo: “Picked to get off the airplane because of ethnic Chinese heritage.”

Another 2017 incident that sparked anger was that of a Korean-American woman whose Airbnb stay was abruptly canceled by her host just minutes before arriving. The host, who has since been banned, texted: “One word says it all: Asian.”

The racist Airbnb conversation that went viral in April of 2017.

The woman’s tearful video report soon also made its rounds on Sina Weibo.

A month earlier, in March of 2017, a video of a woman hitting a Chinese man on a New York bus also made headlines. The woman reportedly said “I hate Chinese people.”

In May, Argentina international soccer player Ezequiel Lavezzi was slammed over a photograph in which he does a slanted eyes pose. The soccer star plays for Chinese club Hebei China Fortune. He later apologized for the picture.

By Manya Koetse

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