left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Foreigners are still welcome

Updated: 2012-05-25 07:54
( China Daily)

Just as some in the West have wondered why most people here didn't share their obsession with Chen Guangcheng, some people here have difficulty understanding the latest allegation that we are xenophobic.

Of course we feel wronged. We are anything but.

There are even some who feel that we have been friendlier to foreigners than to our own citizens.

If a few foreigners feel mistreated in China and conclude that we hate foreigners, or a few Chinese people feel that foreigners enjoy preferential treatment, it is only natural in a country with such diversity.

But when foreign media amplify such sentiments out of all proportion it is different, as normal public indignation at some foreign individuals' misconduct is transformed into a "deep-rooted nationalistic hatred" for foreigners, and a routine crackdown against illegal immigration is castigated for being a crusade against all foreigners.

It is true the distasteful conduct of a couple of foreign nationals toward two Chinese women has provoked angry comments on the Web. And true, a nationwide action launched before the incident is still underway to clamp down on people who have entered the country illegally. But such occurrences are not unique to this country.

What is not true is the expat community in China is living in fear, as some overseas reports seem to suggest.

You would think that for those to whom the words "freedom of speech" come so readily to their lips would be tolerant of others' words, even if those words seem less than friendly to their ears. But instead it seems such utterances are enough to incriminate the entire nation.

It is natural to criticize anyone who ignores basic social decencies and to prosecute someone who breaks the law.

And those countries accusing China of xenophobia for tackling illegal immigration should cast the beams out of their own eyes first as their immigration policies are a great deal harsher and stricter than ours.

Foreign nationals in China have nothing to fear as long as they have valid visas and do not break the law. Instead of receiving hostility or a cold shoulder as their home media try to suggest, they will continue to be treated as welcome guests.

China is not xenophobic, nor will it be because it aspires for more exchanges with others. Perhaps the overseas media's portrayals of China's hatred are really just a manifestation of their own xenophobia.

(China Daily 05/25/2012 page8)