New Zealand’s property prices have skyrocketed, which has unleashed Asian bashing over the housing crisis. Ethnic Asians are being subject to hateful comments on the streets and on the internet.
While weak government regulation and issues of global income inequality go largely unnoticed in New Zealand. Asians in New Zealand seem to have become the scapegoat for the crisis.
Jacqueline Leckie, Associate Professor in Asian migration and diaspora studies, University of Otago, said that “certain politicians have played the ‘Asian card’ to promote nationalism.” She added that the media in New Zealand and the housing debate in popular discourse is “highly influenced by historical stereotypes” of Asian peoples.
Dr. Changzoo Song, a senior lecturer of Korean and Asian Studies at the University of Auckland, also said that New Zealand’s colonial and political experiences traditionally fueled racism against ethnic Asians.
More recently, “the competition that the Europeans (New Zealanders of European descent) feel from Asian migrants over business, jobs and housing might be feeding some racist attitudes,” he told DW.
“Regardless of the more rational conclusion that the housing crisis was not caused much by Asian immigrants, there has been popular belief that the “wealthy Chinese” contributed to the crisis,” Song explained.
People who ethnically identify as Asian comprise approximately 15% of New Zealand’s population. Chinese make up the largest group, followed by Indian, Korean, Filipino and Japanese, respectively. For some New Zealanders’, Beijing’s emergence as a superpower makes them feel that their “idyllic paradise” is under threat.
Casual Racism in New Zealand
Some Asians in New Zealand say that “casual racism” was the most commonly experienced form of discrimination. Comments included, “Where do you really come from?” or “Oh your English is really good” and “Is your English any good?” Soo Min, 27, who was born in South Korea but moved to New Zealand as a small child, said, “Casual racism is pretty common here.
Even though Auckland is quite diverse, the occasional person will try to affirm their own stereotypes about different ethnicity.”
She added that at university there was “definitely social segregation,” while at work there was “a bit of clique-y-ness.
All the Koreans hung out with each other, the Chinese in their own groups and so on.” While Soo Min wondered why the ethnic groups were “so clearly separated.” She said that both a sense of community as well as language barriers could have a big impact on how an individual chooses to connect.
New Zealand Asians told DW that racist remarks were made when the harasser could easily avoid confrontation.
Those driving past in cars or bicycles yelled comments including “ching chong.” And “go back to your own country” when they were on foot. “When you’re online you also get to see a lot of people making racist comments. And getting away with it,” one added.
Liberal Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Housing Flop
New Zealanders’ have placed housing as their main concern in the last three national elections. With 50% saying that housing is their greatest concern. Liberal Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s attempt to alleviate the housing crisis through her KiwiBuild policy failed.
An estimated 150 houses were built by June in contrast to Ardern’s vow of 1000.
Last Ardern’s government passed a law banning non-residents to buy property in New Zealand. However, foreigners can still make limited investments in new apartments. Australians and Singapore citizens aren’t affected by the ban.
Despite the ban, ethnic Asians are still subjected to racist comments.
A Taiwanese New Zealander, for example, said she was disturbed by the amount of online anger about the housing crisis. “Asian homeowners are not in the majority. More and more kiwis are selling off these properties to the highest bidder. So they only have themselves to blame for their greed to capitalize on the situation,” she said.
Reacting to racist comments on Asians dominating the Kiwi housing market, Soo Min made it clear that ethnic Asians had little to do with the crisis in New Zealand.
“We’re all like, we’re Asians and we still can’t afford houses. They are people with money overseas. Where can we find these supposed rich guys?”
Source: Deutsche Welle