Email: The Chinese Detective (中国侦探 – Zhongguo Zhentan) Early 1980s BBC Drama (24.4.2021)

BBC Drama – The Chinese Detective

Dear Gillian

I think the over-view is that this is politically incorrect today – mostly on the grounds that certain aspects of the Chinese community (outside of China) are now known to be notorious criminals (in the public imagination) – and that the British police is so racist that no Chinese people would have been allowed anywhere near a Detective’s Badge in the 1970s! I also think that the average ‘White’ British experience of the average ‘ethnic’ Chinese person armed with a wok is far from anything like the depiction seen here. It is seen as ‘racist’ because a Chinese person can only be ‘normalised’ within British society if they behave (inwardly and outwardly) like a ‘White’ European – thus ethnically cleansing their ancestral identity from their minds and bodies. Why should non-White people be made to do this, or feel this way? If anything, their distinct (and ‘unique’) Chinese identity should be added to what it means to be ‘British’ rather than eradicated from the general narrative of what it means to be ‘non-White’ and living in a ‘White’ country! On the other hand, whereas US producers made Bruce Lee wear a mask to ‘hide’ what they considered to be his ‘hideous oriental features’ – this BBC drama focuses in quite often on ‘close-ups’ of David Yip’s face – so at least we all know what he looks like and represents. There is also a kind of ‘funk’ sound track in the background with a hint of Chinese-type music – even if it is slightly cliché!

In China today, White people are ‘born’ and brought up as ‘Chinese’ with some serving in the Chinese Police Force (photograph included). This man is ‘Tajik’ and comes from Southern Xinjiang. Although considered ‘White’ for demographic purposes – he is a ‘Chinese Citizen’ – and is therefore a ‘Chinese Detective’! 

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