Zhang Lijia
Zhang Lijia

Raising children with a mixed racial background in China is a struggle, tells author Zhang Lijia in the South China Morning Post. Why is it so hard to make them love anything Chinese, she wonders, looking at her two daughters.

Zhang Lijia

What concerns me is the fact that my girls seem to think that Western culture is superior – though they may not say as much. If they describe something, for example, someone’s outfit, hairstyle or manner, as “very Chinese”, it usually contains negative connotations.

Their attitude is common among children of Western-Chinese families. I know one half-Australian, half-Chinese girl who speaks Chinese fluently after attending a local school. After moving to an international school in Beijing, during her first school trip, she pretended not to know any Chinese and asked a classmate with poorer Chinese to interpret for her.

There are no doubt many reasons why these mixed blood children more readily identify themselves with Western culture. China may be the second-largest economy in the world but it still lags behind the West in many aspects, and the government may not be the most popular in the world. Western pop culture, for one thing, is extremely influential among the youngsters.

Will China’s fast-growing economy and rising position in the world change the equation? It may take a long time. These children may change their views as they grow older.

For now, how can we entice them to embrace Chinese culture, to see speaking Chinese as cool and take some pride in being half Chinese?

I’d be the first to admit that I’ve not tried hard enough and that I’ve failed rather miserably. But I wonder just how it’s possible to succeed, other than by transforming myself into a tiger mother.

More at Zhang Lijia´s weblog. (The piece was originally publish in the South China Morning Post, behind a firewall).

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