Between racism, crime and a sense of discomfort, the plight of Chinese immigrants has been disheartening to the minority group in Jamaica.
In fact, according to Andy Au, a Chinese Jamaican who lived on the island nation for over two decades, several members of the Asian community have closed their businesses, packed their bags and left.
This comes despite what is seen island-wide as a growth in businesses operated by Asian nationals, mainly those from China, in recent years.
“I left my business with my parents, which they are still running. But apart from my own, I know of at least four groups of families that have sold their businesses and left the country and went back to different parts of Asia and the United States,” said Au, who has since moved, at least temporarily, to Australia. He said it was unlikely that he would return to Jamaica.
While some of the businesses are still operating, they also are investing and making migration plans in an effort to make a connection or bridge so that they can have an easy retreat and a place to settle down when the time comes,” Au said.
According to Au, the Chinese community is heavily targeted by criminals, which is crippling to business. As a business operator, he said he felt “trapped in a jail cell, worried about outside troubles as well as inside troubles.”
“It is true that we get robbed very often, [held at] gunpoint, [involved in] hostage situations and get tied up at home. We actually had a meeting with the Chinese community and a JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) superintendent related to the crime problems, and we were on the verge of closing down all the businesses in Jamaica and leaving because it was getting way out of hand,” Au said in an email.
Citing the veracity of the article published in the Jamaica Observer on October 23 titled ‘Don’t Call Us Chiney,’ Au sought to shed light on how the difference between the Jamaican and Chinese cultures impacts relations.
After The Jamaica Observer published an article Sunday detailing the racism, crime and uneasiness Chinese business people felt on the island, readers lit the comment section up with counter arguments putting the blame on the Chinese.
Reader Thinkfirst wants his fellow Jamaicans to realize that the Chinese have done this before.
“This is the reason why we should know our history. Remember the 70s, they did not stand with us; most of them left for South Florida.”
Commentator Kajh believes that Chinese entrepreneurs used the island as a pathway to the states.
“Dem too lie! Their plan was always to use Jamaica as the bridge to North America.”
Reader Hernan Cortez shares the same sentiments, but he does not minces words in his critique.
“…They are blood- suckers, they never liked here or us, they never intended to integrate. Good riddance to bad news! Let some European from Spain or Germany come here because they are not career criminals.”
Some readers point out the blatant gentrification going on in their communities. Commentator Vocalist points out that there are entire streets dominated by Chinese shop owners.
“…They come, make money, and leave and build a tonne of excuses for leaving. You should see Barnett and St James streets in Montego Bay — only Chinese shops! ‘Bout Chinese closing businesses, nonsense! Another thing: how can we know your name if you don’t tell us? Smh. Wear some name tags for crying out loud!”
Read more here.