I really don’t like the sound of this ad, which played locally in Michigan during the game. It plays off of stereotypes and the growing paranoia about the rise of China. I’m calling it ill-conceived at best, racist at worst. The explanation of the ad sounds pretty feeble, too.
The campaign of the Michigan Republican hit racial notes as a new advertisement argued that the policies of incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) were helping China to the detriment of the United States.
The advertisement, which will run in Michigan during the Super Bowl and afterward, features an Asian female with a conical straw hat riding a bike through a rice paddy field.
“Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good [sic],” the actress says, in broken English.
“Thank you Michigan Senator Debbie ‘Spend-it-now’. Debbie spend so much American money [sic],” the actress says, without a Chinese accent. “You borrow more and more, from us… we take your jobs. Thank you Debbie ‘Spend-it-now.’”
The Hoekstra campaign called the advertisement “satirical” and explained the broken English in the video as a reflection of China’s increasingly competitive education system.
“You have a Chinese girl speaking English – I want to hit on the education system, essentially. The fact that a Chinese girl is speaking English is a testament to how they can compete with us, when an American boy of the same age speaking Mandarin is absolutely insane, or unthinkable right now,” Hoekstra spokesperson Paul Ciaramitaro told POLITICO. “It exhibits another way in which China is competing with us globally.”
You can see the ad at the link above. I find it racially charged and plainly “anti-China.” As if the fact that the Chinese girl is speaking English tells viewers China’s education system is superior (that’s what the Hoekstra camp is claiming). Nonsense. This ad is designed to instill fear and touch a racial nerve.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.