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by Shan Qiao (@dmaomao) in Toronto, Ontario

Major Chinese media outlets had Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, in their headlines after the Globe and Mail published a controversial investigative feature on him last Tuesday.

During an interview conducted right after the Globe published the story, Chan told Ming Pao that he has previously read articles about himself published in Chinese media that were similar to the Globe’s piece.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Chan told Sing Tao that the Globe’s intention in publishing the article before a federal election with Chinese candidates running for office is questionable.[/quote]

“I feel confused,” Chan said to Ming Pao. “During many events I have participated [in], I have heard from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I have heard from Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney, I have heard from Senator Victor Oh that Canada needs to develop its relations with China. I am doing this job, yet I was investigated by CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and I was criticized by the newspaper.”

He continued: “Should we develop Canada-China relations? Or should the person who promotes Canada-China relations be investigated? I am waiting for an answer from the Prime Minister.”

Attempt to Discourage Chinese-Canadians from Politics?

Ming Pao also interviewed Geng Tan, who is a federal Liberal candidate in Toronto’s Don Valley North riding, and whom Chan strongly supported. 

Tan blasted the Globe’s report and indicated the story is nothing but mud throwing at the Chinese community. “The report suggests [a] Liberal candidate who has [a] mainland Chinese immigrant background has close ties with the Chinese government. It wants to discourage Chinese immigrants from participating in [Canadian] politics,” he told Ming Pao. He asserted that he would still run for office despite the Globe’s report.

Sing Tao, another major Chinese-language daily newspaper, also published an interview with Chan on its front page. Chan told Sing Tao that he “absolutely has no idea why the Globe would publish something as old as five years ago.” The CSIS briefing on Chan occurred in 2010.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Yang Yundong said the story was unfair and discriminatory to Chan and the Chinese community. He went on to say judging Chan to have lesser loyalties to Canada because he emigrated from China and helps develop the relations between China and Canada is wrong.[/quote]

Chan told Sing Tao that the Globe’s intention in publishing the article before a federal election with Chinese candidates running for office is questionable. He encouraged Chinese-Canadians not to feel fearful and to still take an active role in Canadian politics. They should be more involved in election campaigns and help their candidates, he added.

What Chan said echoes the open letter he put out after the Globe’s report, which stated: “I would like to continue to encourage newer Canadians to consider taking an active role in public life. This is essential for our society to progress. They should not be discouraged by the fear of allegations that the everyday actions of newer Canadians need to be minutely examined to determine if they somehow have lesser loyalties to this country.”

Sing Tao also published a statement made by Yang Yundong, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canada, in its follow-up story the next day. In the statement, Yundong said the story was unfair and discriminatory to Chan and the Chinese community. He went on to say judging Chan to have lesser loyalties to Canada because he emigrated from China and helps develop the relations between China and Canada is wrong.

The statement also said that there are many Canadians living and working in China, such as Dashan (Mark Rowswell), a well-known comedian who rose to fame in the early ’90s. “They use their own way to connect China with Canada and we appreciate them,” the statement concluded.

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We are open to Asian investment, but cautious of big, new investors like China that have yet to prove themselves in the minds of many Canadians, a new poll by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APFC) has found.

Released this week, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s 2015 National Opinion Poll found that Canadians also tend to overestimate how much foreign direct investment in our country is actually owned by companies from China, which contributes to a sense of fear that we are that we are losing control over our economy. 

And even though the poll reveals that Canadians are confident that foreign companies will abide by Canadian laws in Canada, the news we consume related to the negative activities of some Chinese corporations in China likely shapes our perceptions generally of Chinese companies abroad, APFC said.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The poll indicated that Canadian perceptions of investment from Japan—a country that was a security risk and an economic rival in the living memory of many Canadians—are overwhelmingly positive.[/quote]

Canadians may be apprehensive about foreign investment by Chinese companies, but according to the poll they are clearly open to persuasion through positive, demonstrable contributions to Canadian society. 

Meanwhile, the poll indicated that Canadian perceptions of investment from Japan—a country that was a security risk and an economic rival in the living memory of many Canadians—are overwhelmingly positive. 

China is a relatively new player in the Canadian economy, with major corporate sector investment emerging only in the past 10 years. Views toward this new economic force may indeed change over time, as they have with Japan, APFC said.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Canadians who significantly overestimate the extent of Chinese ownership in the Canadian economy are also more likely to say Canada has allowed “too much” investment from China to enter the country.[/quote]

The APFC’s take-away from this year’s poll: Chinese companies are in a position to favourably shape public opinion by creating a legacy of positive contribution to Canada’s economic and social well-being.

The poll also found that a majority of Canadians express positive views about investment from major Asian players, including Japan, South Korea, and India. Canadians, the poll found, are reasonably well informed about basic foreign investment rules and practices, and the most informed Canadians tend to be those who are also most supportive of investment from Asia.

Poll's Key Findings

I) Canadians are generally supportive of investment from Asia. A majority expressed positive views of investment from Japan (78 per cent), South Korea (67 per cent) and India (59 per cent). This is comparable to Canadians’ favourable views on investment from the United States (77 per cent), Canada’s largest source of foreign direct investment. Only in the case of China are opinions more mixed, with two-fifths (42 per cent) being favourable to Chinese investment and half (49 per cent) expressing opposition. 

ii) Chinese investment in Canada has been a contentious topic recently, but, despite the controversies, many Canadians remain open to the potential benefits. There are, nonetheless, characteristics that often accompany Chinese foreign investment—such as the involvement of state-owned enterprises and the concentration in the resource sector—about which the Canadian public remains skeptical.

iii) Canadians worry that investment from global powers like China and the United States will lead to a loss of control over our natural resources. Almost half (48 per cent) of Canadians associate Chinese investment with the phrase “loss of control over our resources,” and two-fifths (42 per cent) associate the same phrase with investment from the United States. By comparison, less than one-fifth (18 per cent) of Canadians express a similar concern about foreign control over resources when asked about investment from Japan.

iv) Canadians estimate that companies from China own one-quarter (25 per cent) of all foreign direct investment in Canada, while the official figure is closer to three per cent. This misperception is likely driven in part by the recent increase in Chinese investment, the value of which jumped from C$0.2 billion to C$20.4 billion between 2003 and 2013. Canadians who significantly overestimate the extent of Chinese ownership in the Canadian economy are also more likely to say Canada has allowed “too much” investment from China to enter the country.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Barring significant socio-political change in China, Canadians are only likely to warm up to Chinese investment if they see Chinese companies making a positive contribution to Canada.[/quote]

v) A majority of Canadians know that foreign companies are subject to Canadian laws and regulations (75 per cent), that the federal government plays a role in approving large foreign investments (69 per cent), and that the majority of Chinese investment is concentrated in the resource sector (54 per cent). Close to half of Canadians (48 per cent) also rejects as false the notion that foreign-owned companies pay their Canadian workers less than Canadian-owned companies. 

vi) Canadians do not always disentangle their attitudes about foreign investment from their attitudes toward particular countries. This is particularly true in the case of China. Although most Canadians recognize that foreign companies operating in Canada abide by domestic laws and practices, they still associate investments from China with terms like “environmental damage” and “poor labour standards.” 

vii) The poll suggests many Canadians may not be worried about how Chinese investors behave in Canada as how Chinese companies behave in China. This presents a challenge for Chinese companies operating in Canada. Significant investment in Canada by Chinese companies is a relatively recent phenomenon. Chinese investors in Canada do not yet have a visible and established track record of contributing to the country that could be used to counter the skeptical attitudes many Canadians have toward China in general. Barring significant socio-political change in China, Canadians are only likely to warm up to Chinese investment if they see Chinese companies making a positive contribution to Canada. 

viii) Almost two-thirds of Canadians (65 per cent) mention “new technologies” as a key term they associate with Japanese investment, a country that was once associated with inferior, low-end products. Canadian consumption of Japanese high-tech products, along with positive contributions by Japan to Canada’s economy like the construction of state-of-the-art car manufacturing facilities, also likely to play a role in shaping perceptions of investment from Japan. With time, it is likely that Canadian attitudes toward Chinese investment will evolve. In this regard, early Chinese investors in Canada have a special role and responsibility to facilitate this evolution by contributing to a positive legacy.

The APFC’s conclusion of the poll is that Canadians are generally supportive of investment from Asia, though their level of support varies across countries. Canadians have an overwhelmingly positive view of investment from Japan, associating it with new technologies, economic growth, and job creation. Canadians also support investment from South Korea and India.


Republished in Partnership with Asian Pacific Post.

 by Shan Qiao in Toronto 

Chinese people said goodbye to the Year of the Horse, welcoming the Year of the Sheep.

In the Chinese media this week, the housing market; our spiritual home; ties between Canada and China; and our Chinese representatives in the government were the main focus.

North York Town Home Owners Fight Against Toronto Catholic District School Board’s Offer 

North York townhome owners put up lawn signs to fight against the TCDSB

The housing market in Toronto has never been this hot and it seems that any given location listed is receiving bidding wars.

That’s not the case for the town homes at Bayview and Cummer Ave. The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) wants to buy the land and expropriate all 30 town homes on it to build a high school. Their offer is $800,000 but the homeowners want at least $1.2M, according to Ming Pao Daily News.

When the homeowners were approached by TCDSB in 2013, most of them (one-third are Chinese) declined TCDSB’s offer.

Today, a dozen white lawn signs with “Stop” written in red capital letters show the fight between the two sides, with homeowners claiming they’re under threat of “Expropriation-based blockbusting” by the board.

Ming Pao Daily has interviewed several Chinese homeowners and realtors, indicating the market price is not $800,000 as the TCDSB offered. Realtor Shusheng Wu said that one unit was listed for $888,000 in 2013. A nearby new development unit at Finch Ave. and Leslie St. was recently listed for over $1 million. The report said there were homeowners asking for $1.2 million with no offer from the board.

Homeowner Mrs. Auyoung said it was not fair for people like her who have been living in the area for more than a dozen years. With familiar neighbours living closely and easy access to public transit, not to mention the freehold property and double garage, many of them feel it’s very hard to find any equivalent property in the area. 

Mrs. Lee, another resident, argued that paying only $800,000 to each homeowner will cost the board a total of $24 million, enough to build a new school without even counting the cost of a lengthy expropriation procedure and paperwork. The board’s insistence to get this land is another example of wasting taxpayer’s money.

Chinese-Canadians Ask Chinese Government to Issue 10-Year Visa

With more Chinese immigrating to Canada and becoming Canadians, going back to their home country easily is not always an option. Chinese foreign policy doesn’t grant duel citizenship, hence Chinese immigrants who have become Canadian will have to apply for visas to go back like other foreigners. Currently, the Chinese government only offers single or multiple entries from three months to one year, while the community is asking for a convenient 10-year multiple entry visitor visa that is equivalent to Canada’s 10-year “Super Visa.” 

The concerning topic affects almost every Chinese person now or in the future. An online petition has been launched by a Toronto-based popular Chinese website www.51.ca and two dozen local Chinese associations, urging China to address their needs.

Major Chinese media organizations have covered the story. According to Sing Tao Daily Newspaper, more than sixty overseas Chinese associations joined the petition from the west coast. The petition has been sent to MP for Vancouver-South Wai Young’s office. The NDP’s Don Davies, MP for Vancouver Kingsway, in the meantime, has tabled a motion asking Beijing to allow 10-year, multi-entry visas for frequent travelers between Canada and China. 

The good news is that the Chinese government is seriously considering this, according to Liu Fei, the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver during a recent interview at a dinner gala. She said the 10-year Chinese super visa for visitors, business people and tourists will soon be available in the near future.

Chamshan Temple’s Peterborough Project Derailed After Paying $20 Million To Alleged Unqualified Developer

A prominent Buddhist Temple in North America, Chamshan Temple, has expanded to 11 locations in Ontario during the past several decades. It is the biggest Buddhist association in the country and has recently invested $40 million to build the “Wu Taishan Buddhist Garden” in Peterborough. The construction work started in 2011, with more than 20 construction companies participating in Canada and from China. However, the Chinese company Golden Luban, which is responsible for the Mahavira Hall’s wooden structure, is involved in a lawsuit that is jeopardizing the project.

The news first broke out by Chamshan Temple’s sudden news conference, alleging Golden Luban has no qualification to carry on the work; hence, Chamshan Temple terminated their contract unilaterally. The bad news is that the Temple has already paid $20 million to the company with little chance to get it all back.

The construction company’s legal representative, Guo Yongrao, claimed that the company has more than three decades experience in the industry. There is no definition of what kind of qualifications the Temple requires in the contract that the two parties have signed. He also argued that the Temple has overlooked if there was such a requirement by international or Canadian laws and that the company has no legal obligation to return the deposit, according to Singtao Daily News.

No announcement has been made after the two parties’ heated media war in January. Chamshan Temple said they tried to minimize the damage and push the construction back on track.

Asked about why the Temple chose Guo’s Chinese company without thorough examination on its credentials, Dayi Master, spokesperson for the Temple sighed and said: “Our Buddhists are so naïve to believe Guo, a so-called sincere Buddhist follower, and his company,” according to Singtao Daily News.  

Did MP C.S. Leung Offend the Iranian Community by Asking “Why Do You Come to Canada?”

Conservative MP for Willowdale C.S. Leung attended a town hall meeting last month in his riding where many Iranian immigrants live. According to 51 Weekly, Leung confronted Iranians when they complained about Canada and complimented Iran. Leung was caught on camera arguing, “Let me ask you, if you like Iran so much, then why do you come to Canada?”

The question immediately angered the participants with even one firing back, saying “And I can tell you, go back to China.” Leung is a Taiwan-born Canadian businessman who was elected in 2011. 

Leung has since released an open letter, saying, “I uncharacteristically responded in a way that was not professional. Although I felt attacked by some in the audience, I should not have responded in the way that I did.”

51 Weekly columnist Xinfeng praised Leung’s courage to step forward and take responsibility to defend Canada. He argued that those Iranians who immigrated to Canada inconveniently forgot their own country’s dark side. With UN sanctions and Canada cutting ties to Iran, difficulties such as Iranian passport renewal or money transfers between the two countries should be expected. Yet, Xinfeng also said that out of the approximately 120,000 Iranians living in Canada, he believes only a handful of people complain about Canada. 

A YouTube video of Conservative MP Chungsen Leung’s heated debate with Iranian-Canadians.

How Difficult is it for a Chinese Academic to Become a Professor in Canada?

51 Weekly wrote a feature exploring a lingering pain for Chinese academics: How difficult it is to become a professor in Canada? 

Zhenzhong Ma, Professor at the University of Windsor and Chair of the Odette School of Business, shared his own example in the feature article. He said it takes about six years to progress from assistant professor to associate professor with a yearly evaluation. Being a tenure means a professor’s contract with the university is permanent and secured. That explains why it is not easy to get a job opportunity if there is no vacancy.

The feature also claimed that based on statistics, “white” professors make up about 87% of professors in Canadian universities and those of Chinese background only make up four per cent.

Charlie Huang, a university lecturer, expressed his stress while on his long way of seeking tenure. He said he finds it is very difficult to apply for research funds, not necessarily because of his language and cultural background or even social skills. He has been a lecturer for five years, yet the pressure of talking in English properly was stressful during his first two years. He also hired a local language trainer to help him understand his students’ different accents and improve his English listening skills.


Shan Qiao is a Toronto-based photojournalist who used to work as a daily newspaper reporter. She currently runs her own company, Shan Qiao Photography, specialized in corporate event, editorial photos for news distribution and photo stories. She is also a feature writer for different corporate publications. See her work: www.qshan.com 

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by Truman Kwan (@TrumanKwan) in Toronto

When countries experience turbulent times, large populations of people often look to migrate. Canada is often a country people seek out. Hong Kong is no exception. In the 1980s and ’90s, both the hand off of the island’s sovereignty between the U.K. and China as well as the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, led to mass migrations of Hong Kongers to Canada, as well as the United States and Australia.

With the recent Occupy Central movement – which started when associate law professor for the University of Hong Kong, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, called upon thousands of protestors to “paralyze” the streets of Hong Kong’s financial hub – it seems turbulent times have again surfaced. Something that started as a peaceful protest soon turned into a chaotic battlefield. The protest, which many students were involved in, aimed to send a message to the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to implement a fair election in 2017 for the chief executive position in Hong Kong.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]So with many against the movement, the question is will history repeat itself? Will the chaotic situation of Occupy Central lead to a spike in migration from Hong Kong?[/quote]

A recent survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong showed that 83 per cent of Hong Kongers want Occupy Central to end. The survey also showed that about 55 per cent of the 513 survey respondents said they are opposed to the movement and only 28 per cent supported it.

So with many against the movement, the question is will history repeat itself? Will the chaotic situation of Occupy Central lead to a spike in migration from Hong Kong to nations like Canada, the U.S. and Australia?

Researchers Say No

Ronald Skeldon, a professor in the department of geography in the school of global studies at the University of Sussex, has spent a number of years studying Hong Kong migration. He recently worked on a study titled Hong Kong’s Future Population and Manpower Needs to 2030. He says he doesn’t think the number of Hong Kong immigrants arriving in Canada this year will change much from previous years (in recent years Canada has seen its most immigrants arrive from mainland China, India and the Philippines, he says). As for Occupy Central, he says it all started with a group of people wishing to change the voting system in Hong Kong, which indicates a loyalty to their nation.

“[The protesters] could be seen as committed to Hong Kong,” he explains. “They will presumably not want to leave,” adding that this could change if there is increased amounts of violence.

Skeldon also does not see any lasting effects in Occupy Central that would make people want to emigrate from Hong Kong.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Hong Kong still functioned, and people were still attracted to the city.” - Ronald Skeldon, University of Sussex professor[/quote]

“Members of the public, while inconvenienced, were still making money,” he says. “Hong Kong still functioned, and people were still attracted to the city.”

According to Skeldon, he doesn’t believe there would be any major increase of immigrants landing in Canada. Even if there were an influx of Hong Kong immigrants, the overall numbers would not be more than the previous years, he adds. Skeldon says he expects the likes of Ukraine and the “troubled” countries of the Middle East to be more growing sources of immigrants than Hong Kong. He doesn’t see this changing anytime soon.

What the Community Says

Philip Woo, born in Canada and now living in Hong Kong, working at the country’s South China Morning Post news publication, is in agreement with Skeldon. He doesn’t see why most Hong Kongers would feel the need to leave unless they were affected directly by the Occupy movement – that is, living in the Central or Mong Kok districts where the protests actually take place. “If people had the option to [migrate], then yes,” Woo says. “But not everyone is like that.”

Sandra Kong emigrated from Hong Kong to Canada in 1995 and has lived in Toronto for 20 years. Kong, 53, is just one of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese living in Canada. Before emigrating, she worked at Occidental Chemical Company in China as executive secretary for John Kamm, who is the founder of the human rights group Dui Hua Foundation.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“China is still far from achieving a democratic government, so people are likely to leave for the west until it does.” - Sandra Kong, Canadian resident[/quote]

Having migrated to Canada during the ’90s, Kong sees things differently than Woo and Skelton. Kong says the increase of Chinese immigrants in Canada is very likely, and at the same time, very promising.

“There are lots of learned individuals in China who are pro-democracy,” she explains. “China is still far from achieving a democratic government, so people are likely to leave for the west until it does.”

Looking at the Occupy movement, Kong says there will be a portion of Hong Kongers that will in fact look to migrate elsewhere, Canada being one viable option.

She also says she would agree with those who wish to immigrate away from Hong Kong, not so much because of the short-term damage the Occupy movement has done to the city, but because it is breeding a distorted representation of democracy. Kong says that distorted democracy is what will cause long-term damages to Hong Kong.

“[The protesters’] actions are not only disruptive to the city, but it’s motivated by selfish intents,” she states.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Hong Kongers will think about moving out of the city, but it might not be immediately. It will really depend on whether the situation gets worse. - Janie Lau, Hong Kong resident [/quote]

Janie Lau has yet a different opinion. Currently studying in Hong Kong, Lau supports the Occupy movement, but at times even she considered leaving there due to the state of how things were looking. Lau says she had thought about starting a life in Canada, as she has relatives living in Toronto.

“Hong Kongers will think about moving out of the city, but it might not be immediately,” explains Lau. “It will really depend on whether the situation gets worse, and by the time the problem is resolved, there would be no point in emigrating.”

She explains that leaving home is a difficult choice, and most people in Hong Kong don’t have the option to emigrate. Lau says the house prices in Hong Kong are increasing each year, and it’s difficult to find another place once you leave.

“We try and push the Hong Kong government to promise us a better life, and we are still trying,” she says. “But there is no guarantee that we will also find that better life right away after emigrating to somewhere else.”

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014 15:18

In Asia, Cheating to the Test

Written by

by Andrew Lam (@andrewqlam) in San Francisco

CNN recently reported that college applications from Chinese foreign students to the US sounded exactly the same. 

In fact, one admission officer read a phrase in one of the applications that sent up red flags: “Insert girl’s name here.” The number of Chinese students in the United States has reached 235,597 as of 2013 but admissions officers said that “as many as one in 10 applications to U.S. colleges by Chinese students may include fraudulent material, including phony essays and high-school transcripts.”

Cheating is a worldwide phenomenon, and is a challenge even here in the United States, but in Asia it has reached near-crisis levels. Last year, riots broke out when teachers at a school in Zhongxiang, in China’s Hubei province tried to stop students from cheating. Parents fought police when they found out their children were prevented from cheating. It’s only fair that their children should cheat, they reasoned, since everyone else was cheating as well. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]When you take into account that two out of three Asians in America were born overseas, it's no wonder that even the most diligent Asian students feel more comfortable in science classes than in English literature, where raising your hand to offer opinions is not only encouraged but counts toward the final grade.[/quote]

Can Asians think?

To do well on tests is the end point, not necessarily to learn. So much so that some years ago Kishore Mahbubani, a career diplomat from Singapore, posed this question in the title of his book,"Can Asians Think? Understanding the Divide Between East and West.” A rhetorical title surely since Asia, from Confucius down to dissident artist Ai Wei Wei (the creator of the Bird’s Nest in Beijing) to writer Haruki Murakami, abounds with philosophers, artists and thinkers. But Mahbubani does have a point: The majority of the population tends to fall into conformity and while a few are winning prestigious literary and artistic awards, the majority measures success via material gains and it begins with doing well on tests, ethical considerations be damned. 

Is this a uniquely Asian problem? Intellectual laziness is a major issue here in the United States too, and students buy homework online to avoid thinking the way they download music from iTunes. But America still values those who think outside the box, originality. We immortalized Steve Jobs for his inventions. We mourn comedian and actor Robin Williams’ passing for his unique, brilliant, and fierce brand of humor. Williams invents words without thinking, jokes fall out of his lips unrehearsed and we all roar in laughter, awed by his inventiveness. The inventor, the loudmouth, the class clown, the individual with a vision, the maverick – these are encouraged still in America. 

I learned to say “I disagree” to my father in English when I first came here at age 11 from Vietnam at the family table. In Vietnamese, it would have sounded harsh and unfilial (unbecoming of a filial son), and unthinkable. But the “I” fell off my tongue much easier in English. It allowed me to separate myself from the clan, the collective. It allowed me to think for myself. America encourages rebellion against the collective: follow your dreams. 

Alas, back in Asia the ego is still by and large suppressed. The self exists in the context of families and clans. It is submerged in the service of shared values and ritualized language. A student raising his hand to disagree with a teacher would make a rare sight, indeed, in Vietnam, and may in fact be seen as a direct challenge to authorities. You are measured by how well you do on tests, end of point. 

Plagiarism

A professor friend of mine teaches Asian American studies at a college here in the Bay Area. Every semester she catches her students cheating, mostly in the form of plagiarism. “I said to the class, ‘three of you plagiarized,’” she once told me. “’But I’ll be nice for once. Just rewrite and slide the new midterm essay under my office and I won’t flunk you.’” Three days later, she found 11 new essays under her door upon the deadline. “A lot of them are foreign students or immigrant kids, and they are not confident with their own voice.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The inventor, the loudmouth, the class clown, the individual with a vision, the maverick – these are encouraged still in America. [/quote]

When you take into account that two out of three Asians in America were born overseas, it's no wonder that even the most diligent Asian students feel more comfortable in science classes than in English literature, where raising your hand to offer opinions is not only encouraged but counts toward the final grade.

Asia has become an economic powerhouse in the 21st century. China’s economy will soon surpass those of the United States and Europe. Friends of mine in East Asia are quite proud of this fact. But to them, I often ask, “What does all that mean?” Materialism, after all, is not an ideology, it’s selfishness writ large. To create a viable civilization it starts with clear moral values regarding pedagogy, a shared sense of purpose, and a critical mass of thinkers and inventors. That is, it usually takes a lot of thinking and imagining and re-inventing for a civilization to have its sphere of influence emanating beyond its borders. 

And my suspicion is that it usually starts in the classroom. 


Andrew Lam is an editor with New America Media and author of the "Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora," and "East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres." His latest book is "Birds of Paradise Lost," a short story collection, was published in 2013 and won a Pen/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 2014.

Republished with permission.

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