Suey Sins responds to critics

31 March, 2017 by
Danielle Bowling

The owner of Suey Sins, a new bar in Sydney’s Surry Hills, which has faced a social media backlash and been accused of cultural appropriation, has issued an apology.

The bar boasts a ’sexy pre-war Shanghai’ theme and following its launch posted a picture of its predominantly Caucasian staff sporting racy qipao (traditional Chinese dress) on Instagram.

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The post, which has since been deleted, prompted a deluge of angry comments, many of which accused Suey Sins of fetishising Asian culture. 

“How dare you appropriate such an important, and to many, deeply traumatic period of Shanghainese/Chinese history,” one commenter wrote.

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The bar’s owner, Eli West, subsequently released the following statement:

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"Over the past week Suey Sins has been subject to criticism regarding its concept and theme. I acknowledge all of the raised concerns and feedback surrounding Suey Sins theming, as well as those who have voiced their opinions. 

"I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused. I would also like to emphasise that it was never our intention to upset or offend.

"The theme and character Suey Sin is fictitious, however I understand that offence has been taken to image references made of Anna May Wong. Further, whilst I acknowledge there has been offence taken in regards to images of staff members wearing the traditional Qipao dress these were for our annual Chinese New Year party and opening week of trade. Circulating images portray only a small portion of our multicultural team. As a young female leading a predominantly female team the glorification and exploitation of women of any culture is not something I condone or intended in Suey Sins theming. The voices of those offended have been heard and as a team we will be taking action to remove image references of Anna May Wong.

"Due to the nature of the comments on the said original image of Suey Sins staff members, we did out of a duty of care for our staff remove the image from Facebook shortly after the comments no longer remained constructive.

"In an increasingly globalised world, and multicultural society like Australia it is important we continue to share, embrace and exchange other cultures with one another, which is what Suey Sins sought out to do and will continue to do.

"Again, I sincerely apologise for any offence that has occurred."