Apology | A tragic decision was made

As the president of OXCIA, I would like to offer my sincere apologies for the racist content regarding the event ‘A Taste of China (Niánwèi)’. There is simply no excuse for subsidising the non-Chinese whereas the Chinese have to ‘go dutch’ and pay the price in full. The related online page has been taken down and the event has been cancelled. We will refund every tickets paid by those who already signed up for this event.

I admit that the online page contains racist content, and although OXCIA always believes in equality, it failed to conduct properly in this incident. As the president of the OXCIA and one of the key organisers of this event, I am fully responsible for this huge mistake.

I am aware that any explanation might sound defensive. But please believe me that I am not arguing for the OXCIA as I am certain that it is entirely wrong to apply such fare rules. I will now explain why this has happened when none of the committee members has a belief in racism.

The OXCIA’s cultural events are organised for the non-Chinese to experience Chinese culture. There are two types of events: member-only events and ‘all welcomed’ events.
A. In the member-only events, only members (most have paid for a membership fee) could participate regardless of ethnicity.

B. In the previous ‘all welcomed’ events, in principle, only the non-Chinese were eligible to get tickets for these events. In retrospect, this principle is also racist, and I would like to apologise for this as well. However, in practice, we never check the particpants’ ethnicity during the online signing-up as well as at the event, and there were always a number of Chinese participants. Some of them signed up as non-Chinese participants and paid for the tickets, while some of them were friends of the participants and were brought to the events without further notice and/or paying for the tickets. In either situation, we always welcomed them. The inconsistent principle and practice worked for most of the previous events.

C. The event ‘A Taste of China (Niánwèi)’ is where things got extremely wrong. Two changes and one bad decision (by me) contributed to this terrible result.
a. Non-members: According to our estimate of the number of participants, we decide to subsidise the tickets. Member tickets are always subsidised in the past cultural events. Whether non-member tickets should be subsidised became a problem. After the discussion, the team decided we also subsidise non-member tickets, and this is not a normal practice of OXCIA events.
b. Chinese participants: As the aforementioned principle has never been practiced (See B. above), the team decided that such limit should be eliminated, and we are welcoming and selling tickets to Chinese participants as well.
c. Bad decision: After the two changes are made and a non-refundable £200 reservation fee paid to the restaurant, I noticed, at the time, that there seemed to be no reason to subsidise Chinese non-members, as the event aimed at offering opportunities for non-Chinese to have a taste of Chinese cuisine. I only had a sense that there was something ‘strange’ if there were two types of non-member tickets based on ethnicity, but I still made the decision, which is wrong. Although I never have any intention to discriminate people of my own ethnicity (note that the Chinese members are charged at the same rate as non-Chinese members), the outcome of my decision suggests otherwise. The fare rules were indeed racist.

Since the event was publicised, I have received external opinions regarding this issue from three Chinese students. One of them, in a public online group, politely pointed out that the fare rules could be considered racist, and I explained, also in that group, the reason for making the rules and that it was not racist (which I believed at the time). Another student added me afterwards as WeChat friend and supported the event and its fare rules. I would like to thank them both, but now I agree with the former student as I have realised that such rules were without doubt racist. The third student filed a formal complaint and pinpointed what we did wrong and I would like to thank this student as well.

Again, I am extremely sorry for what happened, and I will be solely responsible for this. I will cover the non-refundable £200 reservation fee. The lesson has been learnt by me and the society, and we will ensure that this will never happen again. OXCIA will continue to make efforts to promote Chinese culture as always and hope that we will still be supported in the future.


Jaryn Huang

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