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Malay-Chinese blogger in Pakistan
February 11, 2011 1:24 AM   Subscribe

What the Chinese Guy Said. Jia Wei is currently doing a six-month internship at Dawn, one of Pakistan's leading English dailies. This is his blog.
posted by bardophile (21 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks bardophile. Just gotta send this to Dad, who lives in apparently "traumatic" Singapore. (WTF? Has this blogger even been to Shanghai? ;p)
posted by infini at 1:33 AM on February 11, 2011


Btw, the guy seemed to have lived in Singapore but isn't from that region. If he was Malay/Chinese or exposed to the region significantly he wouldn't be so surprised by muslims and pakistanis. Nor traumatised by Singapore, both countries (Malaysia, Singapore) being multi ethnic, multi lingual and multi cultural.
posted by infini at 1:37 AM on February 11, 2011


Interesting post bardophile. Well-written.

“Are you a Chinese? Ni Hao (How are you in Chinese). You shouldn’t stand in queue, you are a guest. Come here, just stand in front of me,” he insisted. So I thanked him and moved to the front with Umair. The odd thing was repeated: the guy in front of us turned back and said excitedly, “You are a Chinese? China is friend of Pakistan. You shouldn’t stand in queue, come here.”

China is friend of Pakistan. Hope it works out as well for the Chinese as well as it worked out for the Americans.
posted by three blind mice at 3:20 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


China is actually rather popular in Pakistan. Mostly for not doing what America does.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:29 AM on February 11, 2011


Btw, the guy seemed to have lived in Singapore but isn't from that region.

From the article:
Pakistani: Are you from China? Or Japan?
Me: No, I am from Malaysia.
Pakistani: Malaysia? Are you a Muslim? (Well, this is a tough question).
Me: No, I am a Malaysian-born Chinese.
Pakistani: Do you know Kung Fu? Do you use sticks to eat?
Another curious bit:
Since arriving here, being Chinese, I was always getting too much attention that I didn’t want, especially when I was walking alone without any Pakistani friends. Strangers on the streets always stopped me and greeted me, insisting I should sit beside them to have a cup of tea. (They behaved like old friends – as if we knew each other for a long time). These were friendly Pakistanis, although it could be annoying, sometimes (like when you were not in a mood to talk, or when you were rushing to the office and you were already late). People simply get curious when they see a foreigner in this tourism starved country, regardless where the foreigner comes from.
Having toured India with Singaporean-Chinese friends and ahem, SO, I can tell for a fact that this would never ever happen in India. Like our brethren in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Phillipines and just-about-every-other-place-in-Asia, my countrymen would like to get as much $$$ as possible from foreigners. Also, huge (upper-middle, professional) ex-pat communities being formed in Bangalore, for instance. Also see, Pahar-fucking-ganj.
posted by the cydonian at 5:52 AM on February 11, 2011


China is friend of Pakistan. Hope it works out as well for the Chinese as well as it worked out for the Americans.

That's an interestingly backwards way of looking at it. No Pakistani would ever say that America is a friend of Pakistan. I exaggerate a little, perhaps. But only a little.

The Pakistan-China link has been far better for Pakistan than the Pakistan-US link, pretty much throughout the history of those relationships. In the mess that is US-Pakistan diplomacy, the US is much more responsible for the mess, simply by virtue of almost always having the balance of power on its side, and having consistently abused that power difference.

Nevertheless, it is only in recent years that the Pakistani on the street would actually say any of this to an individual American in Pakistan. It would betray the sense of hospitality that pervades the whole country. Not something you say to a guest, whatever you think of the guest's government.

Like our brethren in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Phillipines and just-about-every-other-place-in-Asia, my countrymen would like to get as much $$$ as possible from foreigners.

This difference in Pakistan is something that I have hear many people remark upon, Americans who've spent a lot of time in different parts of the world, Bangladeshis, Indians, among them. Not sure where it comes from, but it's one of the things that is dearest to me about the place.
posted by bardophile at 6:28 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


For some reason I think what this guy did is quite normal - traveling to a different country to work for a bit, learn, and make friends.

A caption on one of the photos struck me as being quite strange, though:

‘Foreign land’ – a Singaporean friend commented on this image of the Karachi airport.
Are there any places that are "foreign" anymore?
posted by KokuRyu at 6:56 AM on February 11, 2011


Your assumption that the US is at fault over "the mess that is US-Pakistan diplomacy" sticks in my craw. Especially when your assumption is grounded on the idea that it's US power that is the problem.

The US didn't have the power to stop Zia from hanging Bhutto; didn't have the power to stop A.Q. Khan from selling the bomb to anybody and everybody; and currently doesn't have the power to stop the ISI from backing the Taliban, so I'm not sure what power you're referring to.
posted by atchafalaya at 7:01 AM on February 11, 2011


I did say "much more responsible" not "solely," you'll note.

Your list cheerfully ignores US support of Zia, US arming of the Taliban to begin with, and US undermining of democratic process in Pakistan over the course of several decades. I note also that you say it "doesn't currently have the power to stop the ISI from backing the Taliban," which is also a neat way of ignoring who funded that backing to begin with.

I'm not even going to begin on the mess that is the AQ Khan affair and Pakistan's nuclear program, because that really is so incredibly convoluted as to be impossible for me to make sense of with any kind of confidence.

I don't think US power is the problem, and I never stated that it was. I think the way the US' has exercised its power is one of the bigger causes of the problem.
posted by bardophile at 7:18 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


(There shouldn't be an apostrophe after US)

I do realize that a world in which the US would have chosen differently would probably be much less ruled by realpolitik and more by something akin to naive idealism. Which would have its own set of problems that we could then argue about.
posted by bardophile at 7:24 AM on February 11, 2011


Maybe I'm ignoring US support of Zia. Not cheerfully, I assure you. I'm not ignoring that the US helped build up the Taliban. Why they continue to be supported by Pakistan is another thing.

Yeah, I've thought myself recently if the US had never gotten involved with Afghanistan to begin with, maybe we'd all be happier today.

I'm not looking for an argument. I do feel like your comments revolve around how Pakistan's problems can mostly be laid at the feet of the US, which, while I think there's no doubt the US has contributed, is not the whole story.
posted by atchafalaya at 7:34 AM on February 11, 2011


Very interesting read. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on this passage:
He must be thinking that I was an Urdu expert, because five minutes later, he knocked on my door again and passed me a plate of dates and beans.

The neighbor: “Jing-ga-lang-ka-jing-ga-lang-ka-jing-ga-lang-ka”
Me: Huh?
The neighbour: “Jing-ga-lang-ka-jing-ga-lang-ka-jing-ga-lang-ka”

Then he walked away, leaving me alone in my doorway with the plate of beans.
I can't help wondering what the man said, and what the plate of beans signified?
posted by Kabanos at 7:46 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't help wondering what the man said, and what the plate of beans signified?

Well, I wouldn't overthink it.
posted by Naberius at 8:16 AM on February 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Are there any places that are "foreign" anymore?

I know someone who does actually describe other countries as "full of foreigners"... she's ok, just a little cloistered. At any rate, foreign is relative, isn't it? While objectively speaking, my friend is the foreigner in the foreign country, the local populace are foreign to her perspective. Maybe foreign is just what other people are until you meet them.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:47 AM on February 11, 2011


Also, "foreign" start to look hella weird when you write it more than once.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:48 AM on February 11, 2011


China is friend of Pakistan.
There's a term you see used on Chinese forums, 巴铁 - as it explains (in Chinese) at the link, this short-hand combining the first character of the Chinese for Pakistan with the character for 'iron' is a reference to the cast-iron friendship between the two countries. It was mentioned a lot during the recent earthquakes when popular sentiment was for China to send as much aid as possible (and I presume is based on a mutual hostility to/concern about India, in China's case dating back to the border war).
posted by Abiezer at 8:54 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was an entertaining read. I genuinely enjoyed the ingenuous perspective. Now I am hungry for South Asian food. mmmmm naan.

On the other hand, the thought comes to mind that if this had been written by an American (or a Belgian hipster yes I am still annoyed by that), he'd be lambasted here, despite the sincerity.

Also, Long Duk Dong came to mind. Sorry, couldn't help it.
posted by Xoebe at 9:36 AM on February 11, 2011


Thank you for posting. Anything lighthearted regarding Pakistan is a welcome reprieve from the sad news we normally hear.
posted by yfatah at 9:45 AM on February 11, 2011


Derail: Destabilizing Pakistan
posted by adamvasco at 9:46 AM on February 11, 2011


Goodstuff. I love how all his preconceived ideas are blown apart.
posted by adamvasco at 9:55 AM on February 11, 2011


The cydonian: The piece you quote certainly claims he's Malaysian born Chinese but I smell faked (I could be wrong adn the writer is particularly enhancing the differences for amusement value but something doesn't feel right in his exaggerated ignorance)
posted by infini at 3:11 AM on February 12, 2011


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