Changing Times for Chinatown

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Img Cred: goldcoast.qld.gov.au
Img Cred: goldcoast.qld.gov.au

Southport on the Gold Coast has been transformed into what some would refer to as a “vibrant” Chinatown. The Gold Coast Chinatown is responsible for providing a platform for authentic Asian experiences through an exciting mix of restaurants, cultural festivals and celebrations. On the first Saturday of every month, the streets of Chinatown extend with entertainment and a range of multicultural Asian inspired food, a part of the Chinatown Street Markets.

Confucius statue located in SouthportTo symbolise the establishment of Chinatown, a statue of the sage himself was unveiled this year on January 23. The Confucius statue was designed and donated by the Jining People’s Municipal Government, China Glory Society, China Confucius Foundation, Shandong Provincial Glory Society and the Australia Confucius Institute. Three Paifang (gateways) Harmony, Harvest and Wealth are set to enter Chinatown and will represent the relationship with Chinese sister and partner cities (1).

Although there are several opportunities in the creation of a new Chinatown, Southport shopkeepers were able to identify a few weaknesses as well. Our journalists took the streets of Southport to find out how local business owners felt about this “vibrant,” new establishment. While several did not want to comment on the new Chinatown development, a few local business owners had much to say. Two business owners (who will remain unnamed) felt that Chinatown itself is an unequal representation of Asian culture. The business owners even suggested the name change of Asiatown rather than Chinatown for Chinatown areas worldwide. An “Asiatown” they claimed, would help to better signify the entire Asian trans-cultural region rather than highlighting Chinese-specific culture. A concern was also expressed that Chinatowns are a form of commercial branding to sell Asian food to westerners, rather than an expression of community and identity. When westerners came along on Saturday for food, the idea of their venue being a Chinatown did not seem relevant.  Are Chinatowns becoming artificially constructed business opportunities and less of a cultural identification to the diverse peoples of Asia and beyond? Do other Asian cultures feel left out among the China-focused developments? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

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