The following is Part 2 of a translation of NSW upper house Labor MP Ernest Kwok Chung Wong’s (王国忠) article on the role of Chinese community associations in Australia. He has previously been listed as an “adviser” to the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China.
Ernest Wong’s Weekly Commentary: Another look at Chinese associations in Australia today (Part 2)
As mentioned above, there are many organisers in the Chinese community who are competing to establish associations for complex purposes. In addition to political purposes, they also promote their so-called “social status” in their own eyes, but in fact they are counterproductive. Objectively speaking, as these association spread, their status, influence and prestige greatly decrease. It has caused a strange phenomenon in which the number of associations is increasing, but their influence is declining.
Through this article I hope to express my expectations for the future development of Chinese community associations.
Associations should be a standard for ethnic groups
In Australia, Chinese communities, community associations, and ethnic groups are representatives of the entire descendant community and a microcosm of our nationality. As Chinese immigrants, we always hope that Chinese people and that the motherland will be respected, so we want others to see how virtuous we are.
When we make our views known, seeking to raise the status of the Chinese and for them to be respected, we should consider associations as representatives of the community. Are their conduct and reactions all worthy of respect?
From each individually to every association, all are a bridge for the Australian public to know Chinese people as well as Chinese culture; but I have always believed that it is not possible to achieve this goal by loudly proclaiming how “rich and strong” China has become.
I have mentioned many times in previous articles that the dignity and status of Chinese people do not only come from the rapid economic rise of modern China, but from the traditional virtues shaped by Chinese culture over the past millennia. They are passed on through ourselves and by community associations.
Denial itself does not help
When our associations boast and the sing praises of the powerful, they will only be counterproductive and cause people to look upon them with fear, indignation and even disgust. And it doesn’t get them any status or respect.
When it comes to China, besides television, newspapers and various media, Australians’ understanding comes from us and the impressions we give them with our words and deeds.
To sum up, whether you are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam or Malaysia, as long as you are ethnically Chinese, you will be viewed in the same way because of your yellow skin and black hair. You will not get any respect by denying your Chinese identity.
Our neighbours, classmates, and colleagues see the Chinese ethnic group through us; our politicians see it by participating in the activities of different associations. Now politicians of different political parties first come to know community association and then the ethnic group. When they say that they support the Chinese, how deeply do they know them? What they do know, mostly comes from associations.
My experience has convinced me that the diplomatic envoys of our countries of origin also expect overseas Chinese to stand up and set an example. This is so that people of other ethnicities can innately recognise, understand and respect the fine traditions of our people, rather than blindly seeking benefits and recognition through envy and flattery.
When associations no longer shine
What our associations really should show those in power is not boasting or singing praises, but the righteousness and virtue that we admire.
Association leaders should no longer simply pursue their personal status, but should ask governments to treat and benefit the entire group fairly, and should clearly say that only justice and goodwill can win our respect. This is the attitude that our Chinese associations should have and the strength that they should show.
However, I have noticed that in the past 10 years, the power of the Chinese community has decreased, and I despair.
Work together to create new achievements
People may say that in writing this article I am making indirect accusations or that I am putting people their place, but in fact I am only talking about a common phenomenon. I can sincerely say that this article is not directed at any organisation or group. I am only indicating a major trend, a bad trend that we can’t get rid of no matter how hard we work.
Over the years, my enthusiasm, support and feelings for associations has been obvious. Therefore, I can’t get over the pain I feel for them and I often express my anxiety about them.
Over the years, I have hoped that Chinese community voices will receive greater attention, making Australia proud of our existence rather than ashamed. I sincerely hope that we will keep working with associations to achieve this ultimate goal.
Translation by: Chris Lanzit, NAATI Certified Professional Translator (Chinese-English), NAATI Practitioner ID: CPN0BC84W
Date of Translation: 1 November 2018Read More