Monday, 12 April 2021




AGON en Facebook


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Share to Myspace Share to Delicious Share to Google 


Racism with Chinese characteristics


Left behind are the days when being a zap zuung (mestizo) in Hong Kong was considered a good reason to justify disdain from your classmates, your coworkers, or a large part of those workers who, running away from the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward, emigrated to the British colony looking for freedom. Today embittered looks, full of ignorance and an enormous complex of inferiority, are reserved for the West neighborhoods of Nathan Road, the popular shop avenue that divides Hong Kong, from Prince to Tsim Sha Tsui, between hongkoners and truly Chinese dripping balconies.

            But on the other side of the border that separates the city from the heirs of the 6/4 (the fateful date of the Tian’anmen Massacre), racism can be tasted as often as cadmium rice, aluminum jiaozi, clenbuterol snake meat, antifreeze vinegar or melamine milk. Nothing new for those of us who once were somehow close to Chinese communities living overseas. Although we usually call it “inclusiveness”, “introversion” or “closed community”, that is nothing but a euphemism for something the West fears to say out loud, yet for some reason we love to inflict it on ourselves: racism. A racism that may seem funny to the young newbie, even though it hides a deeper truth. Because besides those “laowais [old foreigners] take shower in the morning”, “laowais do not wash rice”, “laowais do not understand that spring means rebirth” –seriously– and a long etcetera of rubbish, there are more grave attitudes. For example, Chinese mothers living in European countries like to say to their little children that they should “stay away from laowais, or they will get beaten”. Thus, every now and then, when one of these little kids sees a local resident from any random European country –something kind of difficult these days–, he moves away terrified just like a little bullied puppy.

            Epiphany arrives, obviously, when one is able to barely understand the words of those mothers in their local dialects of Qingtian or Wenzhou. Or when he finds out how Chinese people avoid sharing table in restaurants with foreigners. Or when a young Chinese lady gets out of the elevator just to wait for the next one –just like an American lady would do half a century before when a black male jumps for a lift. Or when your Chinese teacher tells you that, indeed, they were lectured this way by their elders.

Now, someone could say that this is just based on casual observations, that “there are many Chinese” –please, check again your population density chart– and most of them are rustic farmers, just like those redneck from the South. However, once you decide to take your own bag and move on without a native that helps you out along the way, you will find a rule with too few exceptions.

It is well known that, when Maoism was more consistent, there were many restrictions in China: hotels did not allow unmarried couples or couple without a marriage certificate, and a huge number of hotels or hostels did not accept foreigners. Today things have changed. Personal data of couple sharing a room are stored –just in case someone comes looking for a reason to file a divorce–, and so does any friend’s ID or passport that may go upstairs to have a talk –that does not happen in Hong Kong, by the way. Universities lodging foreigners will hardly allow unmarried couples –and I wonder how much fun it would come from a legally married gay couple.

Lodging is quite amusing. We are nearing the end of 2014, yet many hotels in Shanghai or Shenzhen will not accept waibin (foreign guests), even if they were able to book a room online or by phone. I had once been to Xiamen, Fujian, for a Chinese Literature conference in Fuzhou, and I had to move from one hotel to another five times, until I got it right (meaning, they accepted foreigners). What would happen if one hotel in Spain, England or any other place in Europe or the United States denied entrance to foreigners? However, we humor them.

Another barely known example of this racism can be seen on intercity flights: many companies will only offer their services to Chinese citizens. Just think about it: a flight Madrid-Barcelona, or Berlin-Munich, only “for citizens”. But Western victim-based morality makes exceptions for anyone but itself.

How about “public services”? Many Chinese banks will not allow foreigners to control their accounts online or by phone, including checking out your bank balance. Great libraries, like the notorious National Library of China, in Beijing, do not allow foreigners to loan books, even if they legally live and work in China. That is a privilege for “Chinese citizens ages 16 or above” (see picture).

The same can be said for the Internet. Besides those well known censored sites, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LINE and recently Instagram, how about telling you that the most popular mail service in China, QQ, rejects and automatically moves many mails to the junk folder if they come from gMail or Hotmail? Or that every now and then, probably due to Internet saturation, Western websites cannot be accessed? And I say Western, because you can freely open and even use proxies from Iran, Irak or United Arab Emirates. Places where you can enjoy as much freedom as in China.

This “racism with Chinese characteristics”, to borrow Deng Xiaoping’s famous motto, is deeply rooted in the Chinese psyche thanks to the efforts of Chinese nationalism and Maoist education on young people. Even today, kids and adults are equally bombarded with anti-Western propaganda, Maoist though and self-engineered language. It is not by chance that one of the most daily repeated expressions in China is “We Chinese...”. There is a need to differentiate between their customs and those from the remaining 195 countries. Because for them, the world gets usually divided into China and guowai, that is to say, “what lies outside the country”, a word that is usually synonymous with China. For instance, the word woguo, meaning “my country” both in Classical Chinese and Modern Japanese, is now a term to denote China. Hence, when a foreigner, using Chinese, speaks out woguo, he will be immediately lectured by his Chinese interlocutor, who will also smile and mutter: “You laowai do not understand Chinese culture”.

This is indeed paradigmatic. When a Spaniard travels to France, Somalia or Japan, he is a foreigner. When a French, Somali or Japanese travels to Spain, they are the foreigners. This is different with Chinese people: if you travel to China you are a waiguoren [foreigner], a laowai, but when a Chinese travels or emigrates to a different country, they will never accept to be called laowai or waiguoren. They are still Chinese and the native population is still waiguoren or laowai.

Historical chauvinism is another classic example of this differentiation. Putting aside discussions about how many artifacts were stolen from the Summer Palace by British and French soldiers, and how much of it was saved from the Maoist hordes that had the marvelous idea of destroying any ancient Chinese culture they could find in their ways, why should a Spaniard, Italian or American be charged with plundering? Maybe the remaining 195 invaded, in unison, the Summer Palace in 1860? Maybe all the inhabitants of these 195 countries went to China to sack their Emperor’s relics while his people were busy smoking opium? To accuse foreigners for the crimes of the soldiers of two countries would be like Jewish people blaming not only Germans, but Europeans, Christians or “foreigners” for the Holocaust. Chinese people, however, believe they are so superior they can blame us all for the crimes committed 144 years ago abut just two small countries. Please, Chinese citizens, remember the following numbers:


- between 1930 and 1931 Mao Zedong commanded the execution of 70.000 members of his own Red Guards, who were supposed to belong to the Kuomintang;

- between 1937 and 1939 many dissidents were assassinated following Mao Zedong orders for being Trotskists; only between August and November, 1939, 300 Trotskists were executed in Huxi;

- between 1930 and 1942 the second wave of the Anti-Trotskist Campaign witnessed 240 executions in Shandong;

- between 1942 and 1944 the Chinese Communist Party, in order to impose Maoism as the only ideology of the country, killed in cold blood 10.000 revolutionaries following the Yan’an Rectification Movement;

- between 1947 and 1952 Mao Zedong led the agrarian reforms which, he stipulated needed the deaths of 50 millions of peasants. Finally only landowners were killed, numbers between 800.000 –according to Mao himself– and 28.000.000;

- between 1950 and 1953 the Chinese Communist Party assassinated between 700.000 and 2 millions of Chinese citizens for being revolutionaries, capitalists or supporters of the Kuomintang;

- between 1951 and 1953 the Party tried to eliminate religious movements, killing around 1.000 Chinese citizens, some of them for being just “Confucians”;

- in 1951 the Three-Anti and Five-Anti Campaign of Mao Zedong tortured and eliminated hundreds of thousands of “traitors”;

- in 1953 new anti-corruption campaigns claimed more victims;

- in 1955 the Party purged itself, detaining 81.000 Chinese citizens and killing 770.000;

- between 1957 and 1959 the Party persecuted and detained 550.000 “rightists”, many of whom were executed;

- between 1958 and 1961 the Great Leap Forward instigated by Mao Zedong claimed between 18 and 45 millions of deaths;

- in 1958 the Four Pests Campaign led to the near-extinction of birds, being shot by the Communist. Without birds to feed on them, insects multiplied and hunger spread across the country, claiming 15 million deaths according to the Party;

- between August and September, 1966, Communists were aided by Chinese professors and students to plunder and destroy 2.000 graves, including Confucius’;

- in August, 1966 the Communist destroyed 67 mosques and 17 temples in Ningxia, 45 monasteries in Tibet, thousands of pavilions and ancient houses and 680.000 Lamaist documents;

- in November, 1966 the Communist destroyed Confucius temple in Qufu, which had been previously preserved by Japanese invaders;

- between November 9 and December 13, 1966, the Communists demolished and destroyed thousands of ancient buildings, 929 paintings, 1.000 statues, 4.500 relics and 100.000 books;

- also between November and December, 1966 the Communists burnt 2.000 books and 200 paintings in Sichuan and 80 tons of books in Ningpo;

- following the destruction of August 1966, 7.000.000 of books from libraries and museums were sacked, thousand of Buddhist paintings and statues were destroyed or mutilated in Turpan and Beijing, and the remaining 16 gardens of the Summer Palace were plundered and ruined;

- in 1983, following liberal economic reforms initiated in 1978, the radical wing of the Party tried to start a new Cultural Revolution under the patronage of the Institute of Socialism. Their mission: to assassinate private entrepreneurs, capitalists and anyone with “spiritual ideas” different from the Party. They were stopped by Deng Xiaoping;

- June 4, 1989 witnessed the assassination of thousands of Chinese citizens, mainly students, who were protesting in Tian’anmen Square;

- between 1979 and 2013 the “one child policy” led to the massive execution of new born second children all across the country, especially in rural areas.


Western countries, however, unable to realize that they were the only one to accept their former errors, correct them and punish this kind of behaviour as criminal, humor Muslim terrorists and Chinese Communist under the flag of multiculturalism. Hence, they condemn those who they claim to be protecting to a miserable existence.