Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

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Yellow Peril: My patch: Chinese whispers updated edition

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  • Charles Mabbett,

    Hi TM, good to read you again. It has been a while.

    Yes, but maybe underwear wearing in the middle of winter could be construed as odd unless he has Kung Fu Mammoth Skin Skill.

    As for the mother Annie Liu, unfortunately my sources say there are very deep and well founded fears for her. The poor kid.

    How's Geneva? It will be summer here soon. Warm. Sunny. Not cold.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Hayes,

    These are barely quibbles though, and it's actually refreshing to have seen the girl reported as a "New Zealand child" from the beginning.

    This is only because the child was left in another country, right? Back in our own country we still use race as the default signifier. There's not enough room to write "Asian New Zealander" in every headline.

    Seems to me just the media angle being 'what an engrossing story, let's make sure people can relate to it" rather than racial inclusiveness.

    When did I get so negative?

    Since Apr 2007 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • john shears,

    What a pleasant surprise to read your writing again, it has been too long.

    I really like the way you manage to introduce some humour into what seems to be a very sad if not sinister story.

    North Shore City • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    Happy days! I found the post a mere couple of minutes after it had been posted. Great to read your writing.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Great to hear from you, Tze Ming.

    The little girl is gorgeous, but most little kids are at age 3 or thereabouts, even white ones. I have a sinking feeling of dread about her mother - I so hope that I am wrong.

    I think that Jimmy's right - if she had been left at Wellington Railway Station we would be describing her as Asian. Nevertheless, the first I knew of her being a New Zealander of Chinese descent was when I saw her picture. So, a small step forward, maybe.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    It was a great surprise to hear TV One News describing Qian Xun Xue as a New Zealand child. Of course it shouldn't because that's what she is. It's also encouraging to see it resonating within the Public Address community. TVNZ gets a lot of criticism but that was a neat moment.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    The NZ Herald is relishing calling the girl by the nickname the Melbourne po-po have given her - Pumpkin. This leads to headlines like "Pumpkin parents had separated", which sounds like something from one of those Sesame Street sketches where Kermit did news reports on fairytales.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    The little girl is gorgeous, but most little kids are at age 3 or thereabouts, even white ones.

    I am of course, including my own lily-white little moppets in that assessment. They were outrageously cute at age three.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Hayes,

    This leads to headlines like "Pumpkin parents had separated", which sounds like something from one of those Sesame Street sketches where Kermit did news reports on fairytales.

    What's funny is that they had to use this name to begin with, and then when her real name came out, someone in power must have decided to keep using it to ensure readers knew who they were discussing (because, we're like, all short attention-span and shit from the internet tubes).

    I imagine a fair few of the Herald staff are cringing at the downward spiral of headlines this decision has created.

    Since Apr 2007 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    This is only because the child was left in another country, right? Back in our own country we still use race as the default signifier.

    The classic Donald Horowitz line (that Huntington quoted): "An Ibo may be ... an Owerri Ibo or an Onitsha Ibo in what was the Eastern region of Nigeria. In Lagos, he is simply an Ibo. In London, he is a Nigerian. In New York, he is an African."

    You always need to be outside to define "inside". I just saw her photo here, in a Hong Kong paper, too. They just called her Asian. 8-)

    Oh, and the idiom's not really an idiom, 小千寻 is just a cutesy name for little lost girl.

    And where are these dumplings you talk about?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    And where are these dumplings you talk about?

    Ummm, in Geneva?

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Qian Xun — whom authorities nicknamed Pumpkin after the Pumpkin Patch brand of clothing she was wearing when she was found — is in the care of a foster family in Melbourne.

    Yes, I can't help wondering if they would have given her that nickname if she was a stranded white girl. But anyway .... the nickname is still being used in OZ because of their Family Court rules. She is now "in care" and can't be identified by name.

    On TV1's midday report the reporter shared with us __(she'd been down to 'the Chinese Radio Station' that morning - I presume there's only one chinese radio station) __that the Chinese community were horrorfied by this incident, since family are very important in Chinese culture. Hopefully in the 6pm bulletin she will expand on this, perhaps adding: "Unlike the Scottish, who are known to sell their bairns for the price of a glass of whiskey"

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart,

    I think it's bleeding obvious why she was she nicknamed "Pumpkin," and can't really work out why it was (or is) an issue.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    The NZ Herald is relishing calling the girl by the nickname the Melbourne po-po have given her - Pumpkin. This leads to headlines like "Pumpkin parents had separated", which sounds like something from one of those Sesame Street sketches where Kermit did news reports on fairytales.

    A good vege. headline can lighten even the darkest events. One I recall from the Coromandel Swedish tourist murders - "Woman Looked Like Swede in Bush".

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    I think it's bleeding obvious why she was she nicknamed "Pumpkin," and can't really work out why it was (or is) an issue.

    So if she was dressed in Nike they would have called her Nike? I'm sorry but it's all just a little too Disney (circa 1978) for me. But it could have been worse, at least they didn't call her Lotus Blossom.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    And yes, some NZ media continue to refer to her as Pumpkin when both her Chinese and English name are already well known.

    Do you think the search in Portugal/Europe for Madeleine McCann might go better if the media kept calling her Popsy?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    How's Geneva, Tze Ming? Finding it homogenous at all? Seen the druggies in the central parks yet? I lived in Vevey for a year - strange old people, the Swiss, I found. Anyway, to cute 3 year olds. I hate to disabuse you, but all 3 year olds are cute-ish, really they are. And as for her ethnicity, wasn't aware she was Chinese or even that she was anywhere but in NZ.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    Oh, and the idiom's not really an idiom, 小千寻 is just a cutesy name for little lost girl.

    Oh, 千 as in qian jing? I'll post you dumplings when you've abandoned your long-suffering parents again.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    ARE YOU STILL LIVING WITH YOUR PARENTS, KEITH????

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    小千寻 is just a cutesy name for little lost girl

    Wait a minute, it's actually the kid's name - little Qian Xun. Duh. I plead the '4:00 am blogging' defense.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    I watched 3 News last night, and found the references to her as 'Pumpkin' kind of creepy, to be honest. And I may have imagined it, but Hilary Barry looked a bit uncomfortable using the name.

    As Jimmy Hayes said above, smacks of a weird editorial decision.

    Refreshingly, on Campbell Live, during the entire preamble to the piece about the Unitec student's documentary on the father, the filmaker was never flagged as an 'asian student'.

    Analysing the media aside...I feel for whoever's caring for that little girl in Melbourne and is trying to deal with the "where's my Mum?" questions. Heartbreaking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Hayes,

    As a point of interest, on the Radio Live news this morning they referred to 'Pumpkin' as 'the Chinese New Zealand girl...'

    Without the space constraints of newspaper headlines, we're back to form... and now the Herald is even turning to rhyme: "Pumpkin case: Gone without a trace"

    Since Apr 2007 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    Apart from mangled attempts to pronounce Qian Xun's name and the ongoing references to her as Pumpkin, the mainstream news media's response to this case has been remarkably mature.

    First there was immediate acknowledgement of Qian Xun's status as a New Zealander and by extension, her parents. Asians are New Zealanders too even if they are recent or old migrants.

    Then there was the concerted effort by all media players to seek out views and information within the Chinese communities in Auckland (where the family lived) and Wellington (where Anni Liu spent some months separated from her husband). The main window here was the Chinese language media and what it was reporting or was being discussed by callers or internet users. Many of these Chinese media businesses have articulate communicators who can speak about how their readers, users, listeners, viewers are responding to the case.

    The other interesting aspect of this case was on Morning Report today. It was revealed that the NZ Police were relying on their Mandarin speaking Chinese officers to seek out or respond to information held by members of the Chinese communities. It won't be the first time of course but it is positive development that their contribution has been noted. Apart from it being an extremely practical strategy, it means these Chinese police officers would feel their cultural and language skills were very much prized and valued for the contribution they can make to solving such a high profile case.

    Another developing feature of the story will be the fate of little Qian Xun. Grandparents from both sides of her family will be travelling from China to Melbourne to be with her. I know if I were the mother of Anni Liu, the missing woman, I would feel extremely awkward and possibly angry towards the parents of her husband. So who will end up with custody of Qian Xun? And what part will the courts in Australia and New Zealand play in determining this?

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Hayes,

    Yeah, despite my cynicism over headlines, ditto to your post. The msm is still slightly cringey but at least it's in an endearing way this time.

    Since Apr 2007 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Ray Gilbert,

    I live just a few houses up the road from the family home in Keystone Ave. I've found it amusing how my "quiet Mt Roskill street" has miraculously moved suburbs and is now in Three Kings according to the Herald today. I've seen real estate agents call it that before but now the media are saying it as well - must be true then.

    Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

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