"Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

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"Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Tom on Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:27 pm

It may surprise people who have not been to China.I encountered several instances of the attitudes described in this article in my visits to the PRC. As China becomes more important economically and politically in the world, Chinese attitudes towards race and ethnicity may become major sources of friction. It would be interesting to hear of any similar or countervailing experiences.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/08/beyond-the-pale-chinas-cheerful-racists/

Beyond the pale: China’s cheerful racists

Ideas about racial hierarchies are not outdated ­anathema here but unquestioned belief

Carola Binney
19 August 2017
9:00 AM

Setting off to spend a year teaching English in Zhejiang province in south-eastern China, I expected plenty of surprises. But what struck me most was something they tend not to tell you about in the guidebooks: the racism.

It started when I went around the classroom, asking pupils which city they were from. When I got to a slightly darker-skinned boy, his classmates thought it was hilarious to shout ‘Africa!’ It’s a theme. A girl with a similar complexion was taunted with monkey sounds; her peers refused to sit next to her, saying she smelt bad. I apparently erred when, teaching the word for wife, I showed my students a picture of Michelle Obama. The image of the then First Lady was greeted with exaggerated sounds of repulsion: ‘So ugly!’ they said. ‘So black!’

Such comments would have been treated harshly in a British classroom a quarter-century ago, let alone today. But my own protestations were met with confused faces — crestfallen that they’d disappointed their teacher, but clueless as to the nature of their mistake. And this stretches far beyond the classroom. To many Chinese, ideas about racial hierarchies are not outdated anathema but unquestioned belief.

In Britain, a politician who uses a defunct idiom like ‘nigger in the woodpile’ loses the whip. In China, racism is a standard undercurrent of public debate. A few months ago, Pan Qinglin, a Tianjin politician, announced to reporters that he had found out how to ‘solve the problem of the black population in Guangdong’ — a province with a small amount of African migration. Warning that the new arrivals brought drugs, sexual assault and infectious diseases, he urged local policy-makers to tighten controls to prevent China turning ‘from a yellow country to a black-and-yellow country’.

The Chinese don’t make a big deal about their racism: it’s so commonplace it can seem almost cheerful. An advert for a detergent shows a black man chatting up a Chinese woman, only for her to shove him in the washing machine until he emerges a fair-skinned Asian. The advert aired for months before it was picked up by an English-language website and caused uproar. The company, Qiaobi, apologised — to its non-customers. Its analogy of black skin and dirty laundry made perfect sense to the Chinese.

Chinese racism is, in part, the extension of a long-standing association of wealth and pale skin: a near-universal construct that is particularly acute in a country that was for centuries ruled by various subsections of its pallid northern population.

The history of China is also the history of proud isolationism: it has been keeping outsiders outside for generations. China was long the most developed country in Asia, and just as the Greeks stigmatised their neighbours as barbarians, the Chinese scorned theirs. The turn of the 20th century brought the grudging acknowledgement of western technological superiority, and with it a shift from the general policy of viewing all foreigners as inferior: an exception was made for westerners.

The racism begins with the assumption that all westerners are white. In the words of my black Cameroonian colleague, the Chinese are prone to think that ‘all blacks are from Africa, and everyone in Africa has AIDS’.

The notion of a black Briton is puzzling, when to be Chinese is to be Han and vice versa: the Party believes itself to be the legitimate government not just of all the Han in China, but everywhere else as well. In 2015, five Hong Kong-based Han booksellers were arrested for allegedly selling seditious works. One man was a British citizen and another a Swede, but their foreign passports did nothing, in the government’s eyes, to counteract their Chinese blood: both men were denied consular support. The Swede announced on state television, probably under duress, that ‘I truly feel that I am still Chinese’.

Conversely, a non-Han Chinese person is considered a contradiction in terms, and the Chinese apply the same logic to the citizens of other countries. When I showed my class my own school photograph, I expected them to remark on how terrible my hair looked. Instead, their first response was ‘Why are there those black girls in England?’

China’s government says it is ‘a unified multi-ethnic country’. It is not. To a British visitor, China appears astonishingly ethnically homogeneous: the Han ethnic group make up 92 per cent of the population, but walk the streets of almost any city and you’ll wonder where the other 8 per cent are hiding. The answer is: in ethnic minority enclaves on the fringes of some of the country’s poorest provinces. China has almost no citizens of non-Chinese descent: it is extremely difficult for expats to secure Chinese citizenship, so most are forced to leave as soon as their employment visas expire. China’s non-Han residents are members of the country’s indigenous minorities, who are almost always darker-skinned than their Han neighbours.

Treated variously as a security risk or as purveyors of quaint cultural curiosities, China’s minorities have been left behind by the economic progress of the last half century. Most work in the fields, and a few find employment performing folk dances to Han tourists. One study found that the per capita income gap between Han and minority Chinese increased by almost 17 percentage points between 1988 and 1995, when the Chinese economy began to skyrocket. While the incidence of poverty in China has decreased by a jaw-dropping 92 per cent in the past 40 years, almost half of those still living on less than $1.50 per day reside in minority enclaves.

When development does come, it is often seen as centrally imposed Sinicisation. Efforts to ensure that Tibetan children speak fluent Mandarin, for example, have resulted in the arrest of those who promote the local language. The approach to minorities is cruel and contradictory: most Han Chinese don’t see minority citizens as their fellow country-men, but still maintain that Beijing has a right to govern them.

My time in a Chinese classroom didn’t instil much hope of an enlightened next generation, but there are a few signs that things might be starting to change. Chinese teenage boys idolise the African-American basketball star Kobe Bryant, for instance — posters of him festooned the dormitory walls.

If China wants to realise its aspiration of replacing America as the country the world looks up to, it will need to sort out its race problem. It is an issue which fuels unrest at home, and damages the country’s reputation abroad. Xi Jinping has talked about a ‘Chinese dream’ — let’s hope it exports tolerance, not racism.

***********************************
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby windwalker on Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:23 pm

She sounds very naive, maybe its her fist time overseas in another culture.
Sounds like she has issues, hope shes able to resolve them otherwise shes going to have a
tough time adjusting to living in another culture.

it is extremely difficult for expats to secure Chinese citizenship, so most are forced to leave as soon as their employment visas expire. China’s non-Han residents are members of the country’s indigenous minorities, who are almost always darker-skinned than their Han neighbors.


Why should it be easy. Why would one be allowed to stay past their visa China is not the US nor the UK. China enforces their laws.
Lived and worked in Korea, Thailand, Singapore, China, now a living in Taiwan as a resident.
They all have similar view points regarding themselves and other.

Chinese attitudes towards race and ethnicity may become major sources of friction


why ?
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby nicklinjm on Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:09 pm

In other news, the Pope is Catholic and bears *do* shit in the woods! Sounds like this is the first time the author has stepped outside her Western, English-speaking PC bubble.

Yes, Chinese (and other East Asians) have very strong racial stereotypes. However, I would be careful with thinking that that is the same as racism as encountered in the West, the stereotypes can actually work to people's advantage, especially if you are a White Westerner or Jewish. Chinese people tend to have great respect for Jewish people, as they view them as a people in many ways similar to the Chinese: long history, clever, good at business, etc.

Although there is a strong stigma attached to being dark-skinned, violence against darker-skinned people purely on the basis of skin colour is almost unheard of in China. When compared with what happened / still happens in the US, arguably a black US American would still be treated better in China than in his own native country (depending on where in the US he is from I guess).
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Steve James on Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:08 pm

The urge to look down on dark skin always comes with the perception that lighter is better. The perception that darkness is ugly comes with the prevalence and popularity of skin lightening creams, surgical operations, and other forms of body modifications that illustrate a poor self image. It doesn't just happen to Chinese. American drug stores have entire aisles full of bleaching and tanning products.

Afa friction, if someone starts making fun of "slant eyes" or or difficult to pronounce names, there might be some heat. But, accepting American stereotypes isn't racism. Not in the sense of the US Jim Crow south. Get a group of people together and someone will pick on someone. Northerners will make fun of Southerners.
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Trick on Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:00 pm

windwalker wrote:She sounds very naive, maybe its her fist time overseas in another culture.
Sounds like she has issues, hope shes able to resolve them otherwise shes going to have a
tough time adjusting to living in another culture.
Seen too many foreigners here(China) especially newcomers that are not prepared or don't even understand it's quite a different place than their home country, many of those go around almost radiating negativity against China and Chinese and thus attracting negativity to them self. Many seem not to understand that "exotic culture" mean more than old buildings with funky roofs and a somewhat exotic cuisine
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Trick on Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:13 pm

Steve James wrote:Get a group of people together and someone will pick on someone. Northerners will make fun of Southerners.

Don't know how it is now, but in my younger days I some time heard from "northerners"(Stockholm area) the epithet "second hand Danish" where placed upon us locals of southern Sweden(scania)>:( 8-)
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby yeniseri on Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:55 pm

The same things that the Chinese say about 'black and brown peoples" are the same things that Americans say about Chinese! So the pot calling the kettle black (fill in your own words) ugly, they age quickly, etc are the karmic results of actions. Of course, we know that decency and respect are higher values despite the lack or presence that it is upholded by x culture guided by 'superior beliefs and standards ;D
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Tom on Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:20 am

nicklinjm wrote:. . .

Although there is a strong stigma attached to being dark-skinned, violence against darker-skinned people purely on the basis of skin colour is almost unheard of in China. When compared with what happened / still happens in the US, arguably a black US American would still be treated better in China than in his own native country (depending on where in the US he is from I guess).


Very good point.
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby windwalker on Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:59 pm

Tom wrote:
nicklinjm wrote:. . .

Although there is a strong stigma attached to being dark-skinned, violence against darker-skinned people purely on the basis of skin colour is almost unheard of in China. When compared with what happened / still happens in the US, arguably a black US American would still be treated better in China than in his own native country (depending on where in the US he is from I guess).


Very good point.


How can the comparison be valid in the US as a demographic they make up 13% of the population.

Thomas Sowell , has argued that blacks have achieved the most of any place in the world in the United States.

One might ask could a non-chinese become president of China

. In my travels and living in Asia I have found the people generally see you as a foreigner and treat you with the respect that one would give to a guest until proven otherwise. .
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby windwalker on Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:55 pm

The Chinese have a very different perspective of group versus individual. Even Chinese born overseas Nationals of other countries will still be seen as Chinese by those in China.
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Steve James on Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:12 pm

The Chinese are no different. But, really Sowell, I'd say that White people have done better here than anywhere else in the world.
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby windwalker on Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:17 pm

Steve James wrote:The Chinese are no different. But, really Sowell, I'd say that White people have done better here than anywhere else in the world.


Then you should argue it with him.
He talks of Western values originating with European countries as the basis of the founding of the u.s..

My point was the comments made about American blacks in the US vs those in China was not a valid comparison
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Steve James on Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:03 pm

Then Sowell's comments are irrelevant. You're right that one can't compare the stereotypes about darker skinned people in China to racism in the US. However, Europeans have exactly the same types of stereotypes about each other, whether it's the English making fun of the Welsh, or the Lombardi making fun of the Sicilians, or the Norwegians joking about the Finns. It's not a European phenomenon. In Africa or Afghanistan, you'll find the same.
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Steve James on Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:06 pm

Oh, and American northerners make jokes about Southerners, and southern city dwellers laugh at their more rural neighbors. I think it's always undeserved. No matter what Sowell says.
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Re: "Beyond the Pale: China's Cheerful Racists"

Postby Michael on Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:14 pm

nicklinjm wrote:Although there is a strong stigma attached to being dark-skinned, violence against darker-skinned people purely on the basis of skin colour is almost unheard of in China. When compared with what happened / still happens in the US, arguably a black US American would still be treated better in China than in his own native country (depending on where in the US he is from I guess).

Maybe a comparison could be made between PRC and USA in regards to violence against ethnic minorities if you compare how the Communist Party and Han Chinese treat Tibetans and Uiyghurs to how blacks are treated in America.

Did you know of a black American from Chicago who lived in Shanghai and had a popular youtube channel called Loser Laowai? He thought his life was better in China, married a local woman, but he eventually moved away from Shanghai to some university on the outskirts of Hangzhou in order to do what pretty much everyone in China does if they can, which is avoid public exposure.
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