Australia PM accused of racism after he said ‘ni hao’ (‘你好’) to Korean woman

The Asian woman appeared to have said "ni hao" to him first.

Kayla Wong | April 15, 04:10 am


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of racism.

This was after he greeted a Korean woman with a “ni hao“, which is Mandarin Chinese for “Hello”.

The incident happened on Saturday, April 13, during his first street walk of his election campaign in Strathfield, a western suburb in Sydney.

“No, no, no, I’m Korean”

In a clip that has been widely circulated online, Morrison could be heard saying to an Asian woman: “Hello. How are you? Ni hao, how are you?”

The woman then promptly replied: “No, no, no, I’m Korean.”

She could be heard saying to Morrison that she was from the Korean community.

Morrison then moved on to greet other voters.

Before he made the blunder, he had visited a Korean restaurant, where he helped the workers make some cakes.

Embarrassing gaffe?

Morrison has since come under fire on social media, with many commenters feeling second-hand embarrassment from his gaffe.

A Twitter user said that Koreans and Chinese “all look the same to him”, while another said he is like that “embarrassing uncle that used to try to talk to your friends in the latest lingo and made a complete fool of himself”.

Many others made fun of him too.


Some online even accused him of racism.

A Twitter user said that Strathfield is a suburb with a huge Korean population, and that it was “racist and stupid” to assume that Asian-looking people are Chinese.

Earlier on in the day, Morrison had accused an opposition Member of Parliament (MP) of stirring up racist sentiment .

Nothing wrong

But there were quite a number of commenters who did not think there was anything wrong with the short exchange.

Screenshot via The Independent/ Facebook
Screenshot via The Independent/ Facebook

A few commenters also pointed out that the woman seemed to have said “ni hao” first to the prime minister.

Huge Chinese and Korean populations

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a 2016 census revealed that 19.6 percent of the population in Strathfield had Chinese ancestry.

In contrast, 9.9 percent of respondents said they had Korean ancestry.

Top image via Sky News Australia

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