An ad paid for by Hoekstra for Senate.
BEIJING—It was a good and a bad weekend for Chinese in America.
And one that so far seems to have gone pretty much unnoticed amongst Chinese in China.
On Saturday night, the New York Knicks’ third-string point guard, Jeremy Lin, dribbled and soared into the hearts of hometown fans. He led the shambolic team to a tight victory over the New Jersey Nets, scoring 25 points and seven assists in 36 minutes.
The New York Times said Lin’s performance “ignited an instant love affair with New York.”
The New York Daily News ran a headline online, “It’s Lin-sanity!”
Lin, a California native whose parents are from Taiwan, was perhaps better known previously as being an Ivy League graduate--one of only 40 such players in the N.B.A. He’s a member of Harvard University’s Class of 2010.
But for many of his fans, it’s been more notable that he’s the first Chinese-American to play in the N.B.A.
A great moment for Asian-Americans until the Superbowl, when a controversial campaign ad by U.S. Senate Republican candidate Pete Hoekstra ran against his opponent, Michigan incumbent Debbie Stabenow.
The ad features a young Asian woman riding on a bicycle against a rice paddy. She stops to speak to the camera in broken English, “Debbie spend so much American money, you borrow more and more for us. Your economy get very weak, ours get very good. You get our jobs.”
Just in case it wasn’t clear, the website, debbiespenditnow.com, features the China flag and what one Twitter user called “chop suey” font. The message being that U.S. government officials like Stabenow are spending so much money that it benefits China, which is why America is in this economic mess now.
Criticism came swiftly on Twitter from American expatriates living in China, many of whom called the commercial "racist."
But so far there’s been virtually no reaction on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, to either phenomenon.
As my Chinese colleague, Bo Gu, noted, Hoekstra’s ad didn’t make any sense to her. “It was just like that time with the Spanish basketball team.”
She was referring to a 2008 photo advertisement for which the Spanish national basketball team posed, each player pulling their eyes to make them look slanted. The ad -- which emerged just before the Beijing Olympics -- provoked an uproar in the U.S. among Asian-American groups, but it was shrugged off by Chinese in China. Most didn't understand the gesture; those who did found it amusing or flattering.