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    #1

    The meaning of "China crap"

    Hello, teachers and native speakers,

    I need your help here.

    About a month ago, a message displayed on the back of a small truck created quite an uproar among the comunity of new Chinese immigrants in Canada. Many of them felt seriously offended by the message and considered it racist. I feel differently because I have a different interpretation of the text, but since my native tongue is not English, I cannot be sure about the correctness my interpretation, let alone convince others that the message is not racist. I seek help here so as to achieve a correct understanding of the text with good confidence.

    The text is as follows. (Excuse me for presenting it in all capital letters because I wanted my presentation of the message to be as faithful as possible to the original. For the same reason, I also preserved the same line breaks as the original.)

    SAY NO TO CHINA CRAP
    THEY POISONED THEIR OWN PEOPLE FOR PROFITS
    DO YOU THINK THEY CARE ABOUT US?
    PROTECT OURSELVES AND OUR ECONOMY
    IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY THIS YOU SHOULD NOT BE IN THIS COUNTRY

    Those who feel offended the most are the ones who interpret "CHINA CRAP" as Chinese people and think that the subsequent "THEY" naturally stand for Chinese people. In contrast, I think "CHINA CRAP" refers to poor-quality products made in China and "THEY" stands possibly for the Chinese government or the business people who make money out of producing and selling those poor-quality products from China. Could "CHINA CRAP" in this context, or in any other context, refer to Chinese people in general? Does the text convey a clear meaning or is it really a clever play of the words aiming at attacking Chinese people in general?
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    Warning: Take my words at your own risk, because I am neither a teacher, nor a native English speaker.

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    #2

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    "China crap" would be low quality, inferior goods made in China. "They" would be the rulers of China, and Chinese businesses. Which is the same people.

  1. Skrej's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    You are correct, it's a reference to poorly made or dangerous goods. You can read 'China Crap' as 'Chinese Crap'.

    As you said, 'they' refers to either the Chinese government or the business, for not implementing higher quality control standards.

    I suppose you could also interpret it as the workers not having any pride in their product. The 'if you are offended by this..' comment probably is directed more towards individual Chinese immigrants, since presumably they would be the ones offended.

    That last line also carries a meaning that if you're not outraged by all this, you aren't a loyal Canadian, regardless of your nationality.

  2. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    My feeling of it is exactly per your interpretation.

    To me, it is a totally straightforward, and very direct, message saying buy Canadian first and be proud to be in Canada, albeit not in a very nice way.

    I would say that in the context shown, "Crap" here has nothing whatsoever to do with the Chinese people, and totally refers to the goods being exported from there which the writer believes threaten Canadian jobs and livelihoods.

    In think that, the "they" in the sentence "They poisoned their own people for profits" has to refer to the Government or leaders, otherwise if it referred to the Chinese people themselves it would have the rather nonsensical meaning that the Chinese people all poisoned themselves! In which case there wouldn't be any Chinese people left.

    I can see why people might be upset by it, and there are better ways of raising issues than to drive round with messages on trucks, but actually when it comes to real racism, I think there are far worse things to worry about than this particular message.

    I agree with Skrej that if there is a "sting in the tail" it is in the comment "If you are offended by this....".

    As I said, that's my view. Others may have different opinions about it.
    Last edited by Eckaslike; 21-Jul-2015 at 20:16. Reason: Removal of typos.

  3. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    Quote Originally Posted by Eckaslike View Post
    there are better ways of raising issues than to drive round with messages on trucks
    I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  4. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    Quote Originally Posted by oldbei View Post
    Those who feel offended the most are the ones who interpret "CHINA CRAP" as Chinese people
    Tell them to read the following definition, according to which I would translate 'CHINA CRAP' as “中国劣质产品” in Chinese, but I am not a teacher.
    'crap
    2 [uncountable] something of bad quality'── quoted from http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionarie...english/crap_3

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    #7

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    Thank you for your replies.

    In the message, the word "CRAP" is used as an uncountable noun, isn't it? So, grammatically, it is impossible to use "THEY" to stand for "CHINA CRAP," unless the author made a grammatical mistake, right?
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    #8

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    Tell them to read the following definition, according to which I would translate 'CHINA CRAP' as “中国劣质产品” in Chinese, but I am not a teacher.
    'crap
    2 [uncountable] something of bad quality'── quoted from http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionarie...english/crap_3
    Well, they would argue it is only one of the possible definitions. Don't we use the word "crap" to refer to people sometimes?
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  5. Skrej's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    Quote Originally Posted by oldbei View Post
    Thank you for your replies.

    In the message, the word "CRAP" is used as an uncountable noun, isn't it? So, grammatically, it is impossible to use "THEY" to stand for "CHINA CRAP," unless the author made a grammatical mistake, right?
    Yes, that's correct. The pronoun for crap would be 'it'.

    In regards to post #8, you can call somebody 'a piece of crap', but you can't really use crap to refer to people directly.
    Last edited by Skrej; 21-Jul-2015 at 20:35. Reason: added

  6. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: The meaning of "China crap"

    Quote Originally Posted by oldbei View Post
    Well, they would argue it is only one of the possible definitions. Don't we use the word "crap" to refer to people sometimes?
    I think you can simply tell them that 'crap' cannot refer to humans, but I am not a teacher.

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