By Western Standard

November 17, 2021

-Western Standard


A CBC news story that said some people in China eat rats was insensitive, says the corporation’s ombudsman.

The reference perpetuated an ethnic stereotype that Chinese people are strange and different, the ombudsman said.

“We live in a time where we know Asian-Canadians have suffered from an increase in racial incidents,” wrote Ombudsman Jack Nagler.

“This was insensitive wording that reinforced a stereotype and did unfortunately have the potential to treat people of Chinese ethnicity as ‘others,’ to feed prejudice and thus expose Chinese-Canadians to hatred or contempt.”

The CBC  last February 9 published an Associated Press website story on World Health Organization investigations of the origins of COVID-19. The story in the seventh paragraph said the coronavirus “is believed to have originated in bats being passed to humans through another species of wild animals, such as a pangolin or bamboo rat, which is considered an exotic delicacy by some in China.”

A single complainant wrote the CBC to protest the reference.

“Neither me nor my entire family have consumed or ever considered pangolin or bamboo rat as ‘an exotic delicacy,’” wrote the complaint letter from a Chinese-Canadian reader.

“And exactly how much is ‘some in China,’ as the wording in this news article puts it, when there are 1.4 billion of population in China?”

Paul Hambleton, director of CBC journalism standards, dismissed the complaint.

Hambleton said it was a well-known fact rodent meat was commercially sold in China.

“There is no shortage of references online that bamboo rat meat has been considered a kind of delicacy,” wrote Hambleton, adding the story referred to “some in China, not all people in China, and there is no reference to people of Asian or Chinese heritage in Canada consuming this meat or considering it a delicacy.”

But Nagler disagreed and called the reference inappropriate.

“It should matter very much to CBC how its work might affect perceptions of ordinary Chinese people,” wrote Nagler.

“The precision of the language CBC uses in its stories makes a big difference in how it is received.”