Mar 7, 2011

Racial profiling, Chinese style!

This part of an article in today's New York Times, mentioning "racial profiling", caught my eye:
Security officers and volunteers were present every few feet on both sides of Wangfujing and on side streets. There were police officers in black uniforms; civilian volunteers wearing red armbands; men dressed as street sweepers and officers disguised in plain jackets with telltale black wires running from inside their jackets to earpieces. Many of these men had crew cuts and carried videocameras or small shoulder bags; those with videocameras would occasionally take shots of the crowds.

Security vehicles of every stripe — squad cars, vans, unmarked buses with few windows — were parked on all corners.

Throngs of shoppers and tourists strolled the street, which is lined with luxury stores and includes a food alleyway with live scorpions squirming on a stick. The police seemed to be resorting to racial profiling to weed out foreign journalists. While Asians appeared to encounter little or no harassment, officers flanked by burly Chinese men pulled aside white foreigners to check their passports.
I guess I missed my chance to be racially profiled and harassed by burly Chinese men. Really though, any expat that's been in Beijing longer than a month knows that Wangfujing is a human stew of pushy shovey, garbage tossin', phlegm hawkin' waidi tourists, and there is really no reason to go there. Now there's yet another reason to avoid Wangfujing.

Of course China does plenty of racial profiling, it's essentially a mono-racial and mono-ethnic country, Uighurs and Kazakhs aside, of course. It's very efficient and easy to do racial profiling. One of the negatives you've got to accept if you visit or live in China is that you'll be racially discriminated against and racially profiled. Depending on your race, though, it can be positive racial discrimination, rather than negative. For example, folks will consider you to be wealthy, or well-traveled.

Before I make my next comment, let me say that I love freedom of the press and the First Amendment. This is one of the wonderful things about America. That being said, is there any possibility that the two reporters from the NYTimes article are not obnoxious and mouthy? I'd bet good money they're not American. Probably from somewhere in western Europe. I'm picturing a conversation like this:

"Vee are zee press! Vee have zee right to film here. You must not interfere wiss us."





I will say that I've been very entertained by this recent news-making in Beijing and Shanghai.

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