Old stereotypes persist, don’t they? Take the nerdy, can’t-get-laid at home white guy parading his Chinese trophy around town, the envy of all his mates back home as he’s bagged a hottie. When the notorious ‘Asian fetish’, that no end of laowai seem burdened with, converges with Chinese preconceptions of foreigners as wealthy or the clichéd ‘ticket out’ of the country, fireworks explode. Because of this, there seems to be no shortage of willing Western Willies looking for a service which is matched with an abundance of Chinese charm just waiting to be hoovered up.
But hang on a minute. Surely not all Western men, and, shock-horror – Western women, are in it for one thing and one thing alone you raving cynic. The view of interracial relationships in China has been in flux for many years, particularly from the Chinese angle which in many cases doesn’t afford Chinese people marrying foreigners with the same rights as keeping it in the family, so to speak. But apart from what we may think we see on the surface, what does it actually mean to be in a relationship with a Chinese person if you are not from the Middle Kingdom?
The EU Delegation, in collaboration with director Jason Lee Wong and producer Marras Martine, has recently set out to shed some light on EU-Chinese relations. Using the universal theme of romance as their hook, the filmmakers have created touching, quirky, fascinating web-documentaries, with each of the 10 short-films in the series telling the story of a new couple who have romanced someone from outside their tribe. If you are currently in a relationship of this manner, or if indeed you do have that Asian fetish and are hoping to engage in one in the future, then these are the films for you; or if, like me, you are keen to view some inspiring films and intriguing stories then get online and start watching.
The films go far beyond your average autobiographical chat about romance. Beautifully shot with thoughtful musical accompaniment, these films are a work of art in themselves. Giving cultural, personal and informative insight into the practical differences between broad European cultural values and those of our Chinese cousins, they balance emotive often touching narratives with humor and a sense of educating through likable, easily identifiable characters.
Take Harrison, from Beijing, and his wife Jehanne, from Belgium, for example. Their film, below, charts their relationship and pictures them with their children in their Aladdin’s cave of a courtyard house in Beijing. Jehanne says “all four of us are very much aware that we are a bridge between cultures” and this point resonates the most from the series: bridging and exchanging cultural values and eccentricities which should be embraced.
Also Michel, from France, and his Chinese wife Qi, who now live in Brittany. This colorful couple talk about cultural differences in an accessible way; how Qi adapted to life in France, struggling her way through French markets and dealing with greetings and trying not to offend the locals.
Each of the other films strive to make sense of cultural differences between European countries, including the UK, Spain, the Czech Republic and Denmark, and China.
So if you are in a similar situation, or you just want to open your eyes to the varied, up-to-date world of EU-China relations(hips) then take some time to view and share these uplifting films.