IF YOU. Precious Reader, thought that there were (are) a lot of Filipino migrants in New Zealand (at least 35,000), there are even more Chinese migrants (at least 171,000 as of a 2013 census), outnumbering us at least four to one.
Our migrant counterparts, fellow immigrants from China, are like Filipinos. They’re sociable, work hard, pursue the New Zealand dream of health, contentment and safety from war and violence, and just try to get along with everybody.
Actually, that’s a white lie. I’ve stretched the truth a bit.
Using a very subjective standard (subjective because I can only compare everything else to myself), Chinese are not that sociable (I’m being honest now), definitely not at all the way Filipinos are. There are two main reasons for this:
First, they don’t make too much effort to learn or improve their English. Whatever the reasons are, they just don’t. (No value judgment in this) And second, related to the first reason: because they don’t familiarize themselves with the local language, they tend very strongly to keep among themselves. It’s a fact that despite their numbers, the Chinese are quite a closely-knit community, in New Zealand or wherever else.
Whether it’s intentional or just a character of the Chinese, we can’t fault them for it. In recent times, because of the Chinese incursion into our waters, the way Chinese workers show disrespect for our surroundings in the Philippines, their (admittedly) poor hygiene practices, and the general way we are given less than our due respect between sovereign states, we have apparently even more reason to gloat and say buti nga sa yo (serves you right or you deserve it) when so many Chinese (more than 30,000 now as of last count, and definitely more coming) are suffering from the coronavirus originating from animals and now confirmed to be transmitted human to human.
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They won’t admit it, but the Chinese economy will be affected for months to come. Because the Chinese economy accounts for at least 15% of the world economy, probably more, with all its generation of products, services, consumption and ultimately wealth, everywhere around the world, all economic activity is expected to experience a downturn, tourism especially, not the least in both the Philippines and New Zealand.
If ever there was a time to gloat, point to karma for all their bullying ways and shout to the whole world that what comes up must come down (or that the good times must end sometime) it would be NOW. It’s so easy to tell the Chinese, get the eff away from my country, I don’t want your money or business, and keep your virals and infected away from our country (just like zombies in a sci-fi movie or TV series), be like gone for the next couple years OK?
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But it’s not right. Just like it’s not right for China to be stepping all over us figuratively and literally the last few years in the South China Sea (only named such because they named it)? you may ask? Yes kabayan, it’s not right, but just because somebody is wrong doesn’t mean it’s alright to be wrong too.
I refer specifically to the way Chinese overseas (not Overseas Chinese, the term some Filipino Chinese use for themselves, but Chinese from Communist China) are being treated, in the Philippines and elsewhere. Being kept away from crowds. Being discouraged from entering restos and malls. Being talked about right to their faces and frankly, being asked to leave because they are, by association, an infected nation.
Nothing could be worse in this day and age, and Filipinos should know better. First place, hindi naman porke’t Tsino ay may virus na. (Being Chinese doesn’t mean you’re sick.) We all know that. Secondly, there are a group of reasons why we shouldn’t behave like racists and treat Chinese in New Zealand and the Philippines (much as it’s our human nature to do so) as second-class, sick and deserving of our insults.
It’s good business. Besides “Winter is coming,” do you remember the House sigul (motto) of House Stark in Game of Thrones? (I’m pretending everyone is a GoT fan.) Yes, it’s “The North Remembers.” Well, using our real-life example, China remembers. It will remember who treated it well and who didn’t. Because we’re already bending over backwards and being extra-nice to China (for all the wrong reasons) we might as well do it for the right reason. China is down, and you don’t hit somebody when he or she’s down. 101%, China will rise again, very shortly, and it will to reiterate, have an elephant’s memory. I’m not saying set up hospitals and take all their sick, just treat them decently, allow their citizens the same rights and privileges as any other visitors here (with the exception of letting in travelers from infected areas, iba na ‘yon), and it will be to our advantage. It’s good business to treat others decently.
It’s good manners. As a member of the family of nations, it’s our duty to extend a helping hand, to the extent reasonable, when someone needs help. China obviously is in dire straits now, and though its pride won’t let it do so, China needs all the help it can get. The Philippines may not be in a position to be altruistic and generous, but we do have human resources available if the need arises, in the form of medical expertise and skills. Subject of course to our own needs and the requirements of health and safety.
It’s good for the soul. When all else fails, we can use the golden rule. No, it’s not the Chinese version (“He who has the gold, makes the rule.”) but “do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” Simply put, you scratch my back, I scratch yours. If we were in deep doo-doo, we would ask help from anybody and everybody, and China isn’t there yet, but getting there. Let’s not wait to be asked and just help anyway we can. It’s good for our soul. It’s good for karma. It’s good for neighborliness. Believe what you want, but it’s a good look. Not just a good look, but it’s good. Period.
And that’s why, we shouldn’t turn our backs now on China and its migrants and overseas workers. Not in New Zealand. And not in the Philippines.