Dog scare hurts Chinese restaurants in T&T

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Chinese restaurant owners fear untold damage has been done to their businesses in the aftermath of a video showing Chinese nationals skinning a dog and Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan’s statements allegedly equating reduction of the stray dog population to dog meat being served to diners at Chinese restaurants.

Sales have plummeted by as much as 80% at some Chinese food establishments. Owners fear if this trend continues they may be forced to close as they will be unable to pay the rent and staff wages with dwindling customers.

The fallout has been felt in Chinese restaurants nationwide and not only in the western peninsula where the video originated. Affected business owners came from as far as San Fernando to relate their experiences.

Johnny Chow, a member of the China Chamber of Commerce, said depending on the districts, several owners reported a drastic decline in sales ranging from 50% to as much as 80%.

Besides their livelihood being placed in jeopardy, another major concern of the Chinese community is that the xenophobia, verbal insults, hazing, discrimination and racial stereotyping that Chinese are subjected to may escalate to physical attacks, dirty tricks and smear campaigns.

Video footage showed a man exiting a vehicle and cutting the tire valve stem on a Chinese man’s pickup in Massy Stores car park in San Fernando.

A dog hanging by a rope was posted on social media near to a Chinese establishment in St. Croix Junction, Princes Town.

The China Society and other organizations of T&T citizens of Chinese descent called on Khan to retract his statements warning people to beware of what they consume from Chinese restaurants.

In a statement, the Chinese organizations allege “a proverbial witch-hunt” is now on against Chinese in T&T and they were being harassed by other citizens.