Chinese netizens slam British newspaper's 'cultural intervention' over chopsticks article

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 1:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 4:11pm

Chinese internet users have attacked a British newspaper’s claim that the Chinese should swap chopsticks for knives and forks, calling it a cultural intervention.

It is not about chopsticks, it is the disposable aspect that matters, angry Chinese netizens responded on Friday to The Telegraph’s article “Chinese ‘must swap chopsticks for knife and fork’” after it went viral on the Chinese blogosphere.

The article, published on Wednesday, reported an appeal from a member of China’s parliament, Bo Guangxin, head of a state-owned timber firm, to reduce the use of disposable chopsticks to reduce timber wastage. The Telegraph article said “he even went so far as to suggest that restaurants offered metal knives and forks instead,” which inspired the headline.

Bo said China produced as many as 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks each year. To ease the burden on the nation’s environment, he urged people to carry their own chopsticks.

The Telegraph’s report and its headline provoked widespread condemnation on Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo on Friday.

“Chopsticks have been part of our culture and tradition for thousands of years. How can we just discard them like that?” a comment read.

“It is unfair to blame chopsticks. Instead, use of disposable products should be phased out,” one user said.

“The issue is not chopsticks, but what they are made of,” another said.

Another comment read, “It is time to impose a ban on disposable chopsticks, but definitely not the use of chopsticks.”

Some bloggers urged government to charge for disposable tableware. “Just like plastic bags, the problem can be solved easily,” one user said.

Some internet users raised the issue of sanitisation, arguing that the adoption of metal chopsticks, which are common in South Korea, would address this as they are easier to clean compared to wooden and bamboo chopsticks.