WARNING RACIST CONTENT: The “successful” Chinese, Vietnamese versus the “unsuccessful” Other

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Remember the myth spread by the Finnish media from the 1980s  that the Vietnamese were a model of adaption in Finland? The latest story published by Helsingin Sanomat about well-adapted Chinese is a repeat of a story that the daily published in 2015 about the Vietnamese. 

How does Finland’s biggest daily measure success of a particular ethnic or national group? In the Chinese story, it is business startups and “the willingness to adapt to Finnish culture” whatever that means.

At the time when Helsingin Sanomat wrote about the “successful” Vietnamese, the latest unemployment figures for that national group was 26.9% in 2013 compared with the national average jobless rate of about 8.5%. I doubt that unemployment rates for the Vietnamese have dropped dramatically since 2013.

As the story on the “successful” Chinese by Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday, the one on the “successful” Vietnamese both show a lot more about how white Finns, or in this case the country’s largest daily, see our growing culturally diverse communities and how to deal with social ills like racism and social exclusion – or denial. Since Finnish society is all about “tasa-arvo” (sic!), racism is a minor matter. If you don’t adapt it is not society’s problem but your issue.

The stories on the Chinese and Vietnamese show as well the expectations of the type of migrants Finland wants.

I wrote an op-ed piece about the “super migrant” published (in Finnish) in Savon Sanomat.

Read the full story (paywall/in Finnish) here.

  • Who are these so-called “super-liked” migrants?
    • They function perfectly as a group even if humans are far from perfect
    • They are white northern Europeans, some Far East nationals like the Chinese (white Russians are excluded)
    • They commonly belong to the Christian faith
    • They are heterosexuals
    • They are skilled professionals and well-behaved
    • They adapt quickly and without problems to our way of life
    • They are never unemployed (they are against social welfare and handouts)
    • They are paid less than  Finnish employees
    • They don’t mind wearing sleeve badges to help police ethnically profile more effectively
    • They never practice their culture in public spaces
    • Their children only speak their parents’ language at home
    • Their parents speak near-perfect Finnish
    • Cultural difference and slight Finnish accents are fine because they allow us to distinguish who is “us” and “them”

June Sun brought up in a tweet a valid point on how such characterizations of the model migrant is problematic. If the Chinese are successful, an unsubstantiated statement, does that mean that other groups are unsuccessful and therefore undesirable?

May I then give my prejudiced view of the “successful” Finn?

Certainly. But that would entail another op-ed piece.


Thank you Sonia Maria Koo for the heads-up!