Home / World News / Controversial menu item ‘The Ching Chong’ at Johnny’s Burgers sparks fresh debate

Controversial menu item ‘The Ching Chong’ at Johnny’s Burgers sparks fresh debate

Asian leaders have weighed-in on a debate over a controversial menu item at a popular Perth burger bar.

Johnny’s Burgers has a meal called “The Ching Chong” – which is also a slur used to mock people of Asian descent.

The term has in the past been a crude imitation of how Cantonese and Mandarin sounds to westerners and is offensive to some communities.

The $14.90 burger, available at venues in Canning Vale and Joondalup, is advertised as an “Asian burger with a bite”.

It has a pure beef patty, fried egg, coriander, sriracha, mayo and salad.

However, the burger has left a bad taste in the mouths of some.

A spokeswoman from the Australia-China Friendship WA branch said the term mimicked Chinese pronunciation and believed the burger bar should consider changing the name.

She said while she personally did not take offence, there may be other senior members in the Asian community who were insulted.

Labor MLC Pierre Yang, who is only the second Chinese West Australian to be elected to the Upper House, said the selection of words could have been “more inclusive”.

'The Ching Chong' burger at Johnny's Burgers has ignited debate.
Camera Icon‘The Ching Chong’ burger at Johnny’s Burgers has ignited debate. Credit: Briana Fiore

Mr Yang said the context of the words used in any scenario was fundamental for making a proper value judgement.

“It seems that in this instance, someone is trying to employ some light-hearted Aussie humour by using the phrase in their menu,” Mr Yang said.

Pierre Yang flanked by Paul Papalia & Peter Tinley speaks at a press conference at Parliament.
Picture Sharon Smith
Camera IconLabor MLA Pierre Yang said the controversial burger name could have been more inclusive. Credit: Sharon Smith/TheWest

“So as long as there is no malicious intent, I do not have any issues, though the selection of the words could have been more inclusive.”

It comes as COVID-19 continues to fuel racism against the Asian community worldwide.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the United Nations secretary-general said the virus had unleashed a tsunami of hate, because of xenophobic conspiracy theories about its origins.

Australia was not immune to the racism either, an Asian Australian Alliance report last year found almost 400 incidents of abuse across the country in just two months. And more than 90 per cent of the abuse was not reported to the police.

Owner Johnny Wong told The West Australian he was Chinese and born in Malaysia, but declined to comment on whether he thought the burger name normalised racism.

A petition to change the burger’s name was started three years ago by Lisa Chappell and attracted 299 signatures at the time.

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