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Amber: Hey everybody! Welcome back to Amber and Victor’s Chinese Buffet.
Victor: 大家好 (dàjiā hǎo).
Amber: This week at the Buffet, we have…
Victor: A new segment is called…
Amber: ‘All You Can Eat News’!
Victor: We can eat, yeah.
Amber: Which Chinese buffet would be complete, Victor, if it was not all you can eat?
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: In this segment, what we’ll do is take a lesser known or very culturally applicable news article and we’ll kind of give the ‘Victor and Amber Buffet’ take on it.
Victor: Right, our take. We’ll try to keep it up to date on Chinese society.
Amber: Yeah, and just maybe expand or give some insights culturally on something that is very current in the news right now in China.
Victor: Right. Just kind of talk about it.
Amber: So this week, we have a big headline. You know, it was recently Gay Pride week and in China actually, surprisingly we found an article that talked about Shanghai. Also, there were some celebrations for Gay Pride week and the title of the article was ‘Gay festival teaches tolerance’. It was from the China Daily on June 16th.
Victor: So what happened was, basically some people in Shanghai organized supposedly a week full of events to celebrate Gay Pride I guess.
Amber: Yeah. And granted, not all of the events took place. Some were shut down by the government. However, interestingly, one major event that took place was at a local bar and they had some activities, some getting together, and also some gay marriages performed.
Victor: Yeap.
Amber: Now, first of all Victor, the first point is even the fact that this article was printed in the China Daily, I think it shows that there is a lot of change and more openness about homosexuality in China that this would get through the centers.
Victor: Right. And China Daily, for our listeners who may not know, is the official Chinese English newspaper in China. They had a front page article about the story.
Amber: Yeah. And a country like China, I mean it has a very strong conservative tradition. Changes don’t happen overnight but Shanghai is the city that’s definitely the most open. So, we can see that they are taking the lead and seem some things are being tolerated.
Victor: Yeah! When I first saw this article, I was just truly amazed that there is such a progressive event actually happened in China and actually made through the news outlets.
Amber: Yeah. Now, this is a little bit of background so you can understand how big of a change this really is. You know, having gay sex in China was a criminal activity up until 1997 and considered actually a mental disorder up until 2001. So, though that’s a thing of the past, in China today, it is not very open. Homosexuality is definitely not something that’s very socially accepted.
Victor: It’s a pretty sensitive issue.
Amber: Yes, it’s a very sensitive issue. And one thing I’d have to say that I noticed in China is that although I don’t see a lot of hate-crimes against gays but, basically a lot of the Chinese mentality I find in issues that come up are, if you’re not bothering me then I won’t bother you about it. It’s sort of with amongst people and their peers and the community. However, the government, as we can see from this article, they did take action to shut down some of the events. So, they still are kind of clamping down and trying to keep some control over these sort of activities.
Victor: Yeah. We think this story is very significant because generally, there are lot of negative reports in the Western media about China and Chinese society. And to a normal Western reader, you read the article and you think, “Oh, the government is interfering whatever…” It does not seem like it’s a very progressive society at all. You know, try to think of what kind of culture you’re dealing with here.
Amber: Yes. It’s very important because it’s very easy for us to kind of hold the bar at the standard that we’re used to. But, I think that’s something that is really important to remember is that to get to the point, say at America or in the West that we are today as far as gay rights, gay marriage, these types of things, we’re still trying to make ground with it. But you know America, this is a very new country, very progressive, very open. Back in the 70s, the gay activist Harvey Milk, he had to fight and fight and fight. This fight took over 30 years to get to the point that we are at today in such a progressive and open society that I think sometimes it’s true people tend to judge very quickly and say, “Why isn’t China this way or that way?” But they’ve got like 4000 years of history. It’s very conservative.
Victor: Yeah, I think it’s important for people to remember just what kind of culture that they’re dealing with here.
Amber: Because it’s true. We know about modern China now but we don’t even really know in the West that much about Chinese recent history, right? I mean, what was the situation in China 30 years ago, Victor?
Victor: There was the famine in the 60s and then there was a culture revolution…
Amber: We’re dealing with a lot.
Victor: It’s been impacting this society quite a lot and I think this is one of the things that the Western media rarely points out. Just to give recognition for what the Chinese people and Chinese government has been able to do is to go from an entirely close economy to the…
Amber: And society.
Victor: Right. To the world’s third largest economy, all in 30 years.
Amber: Exactly.
Victor: Letting along is a country with a long past, 1.5 billion people…
Amber: A lot of people to change…
Victor: And most of the home don’t even have a high school education.
Amber: Yeah.
Victor: Just think about what the people have been able to do there.
Amber: It’s a step-by-step process and you kind of can’t jump to the end before you go through the middle.
Victor: Exactly. And I think any changes on China’s part has to come in China’s own time, in China’s own way.
Amber: It’s true. It has to sit the society in order for it to work for the people. I think it actually holds out a lot of hope for the future of China as well because when you think what they came from to what they have become in such a short time in these other areas, for example human rights, gay rights, all of these things; I think there is a lot of potential. And this event in Shanghai showing that everything wasn’t shut down I think is a good step in the right direction. Hopefully, slowly change takes time but we can see that the efforts is being made. So, I think it’s a very good sign. That’s why we thought this article is really nice to share.
Victor: Right. And this is not to say that the reports and criticism from the West don’t have any merits.
Amber: That’s true.
Victor: It’s just that if they can look at Chinese history and the context of the country a little more holistically, I think their message would be more effective and helpful.
Amber: That’s true. To be easier for…
Victor: People to...
Amber: People to respond to accept their virtue.
Victor: Right.
Amber: So Victor and I, basically we’ve done both sides of the fence.
Victor: Right.
Amber: That’s why we kind of started this segment. Because we wanted to share both perspectives because we can see a lot of progress. Of course there’s a lot of work to do. We have a lot of hope for China in these aspects.
Victor: Yeah. And like Amber said, this is one of the main reasons we’re doing the show is because we have both recognized more common grounds between the two cultures that most people believe.
Amber: We’re like the bridge between China and the West.
Victor: Yeah. What we have both observed is the common need for connection with one another despite our differences.
Amber: It’s true. And even though it’s a side idea of our culture and our differences, I find those actually more the same than there is a difference.
Victor: Yeah, exactly!
Amber: You actually get to know more intimately.
Victor: Right. And I’ll give a personal example of, II work for NBC this past summer for the Olympics. I was in Beijing. And during the opening ceremony, what I remember the most is when the American team came in, the delegation came into the stadium. The entire stadium of 90,000 people, mostly Chinese, just exploded into cheers. And on this side, NBC’s number was… it was the most-watched Olympic Games in US history for any non US-hosted games. So, as you can see, despite all these differences, I think people are ready for more understanding and connection. More of curiosity on both sides.
Amber: That’s right. And you can all come together for this at the Chinese Buffet. It’s all about understanding. Peace, love and understanding, Victor. And for everybody, if you want to learn more about China and Chinese culture even learn Chinese, you can stop by our website at chineseclass101.com. We hope to see you there.
Victor: Yep. So, be sure to also check this out in the future because we’re developing a lot of really interesting stories from Chinese news to Chinese society to…
Amber: Lots of good dishes at the Buffet.
Victor: Lots of good dishes. So, be sure to come back often.
Amber: You won’t be disappointed. So, that’s it for the Chinese Buffet today and if you want to learn more Chinese or about Chinese culture, make sure come visit us at ChineseClass101.com. We’ve lots of lessons there that can give you lot of insights about China and also teach you to speak Chinese. 再见 (zàijiàn)!
Victor: 再见 (zàijiàn).