This is another one of those songs that’s been appropriated by the people it was deriding (white men who fetishize Asian women). I mean, a few people have said it was inspired by a real person and it was played totally straight, but, nah, man, listen to the lyrics! They’re clearly likening that gross fetishization of Asian women to small-scale colonialism. I think Bowie has basically said as much, actually. Although I find that’s a theme in a lot of his lyrics: he takes on the narrative “voice” of a character or ideal that he despises and performs the songs in character, giving context clues here and there in the lyrics but especially in the general feel/sound of the music.
did Bowie write this one or did Iggy Pop? Because it was on Iggy’s album before Bowie’s but it was one of the albums Bowie helped him make.
I’m pretty sure they wrote it together. The lyrics were allegedly inspired by Iggy’s affair with a woman named Kuelan Nguyen, but clearly the subject was one that Iggy and Bowie both were familiar with. Like tbh Bowie did his fair share of appropriating Asian motifs with the Kabuki aspect of the Ziggy Stardust character and his version of this song probably played it a little too straight, so it’s understandable that people get the wrong impression from it.