Toughts, news and small talk mainly concerning China from a berlin perspective

4/19/2005

How racist is China?


I once was asked by a Chinese friend, if I think that there exists racism in China and she was quite stunned about my answer that, yes, I think their exists racism in China. The recent demonstrations and a commentary at China Herald caused me to think about the topic again. J. Zhang wrote:

"I do not agree with your labelling of these events as racist. Also Chinese people are not racist, however, if you have been in Japan, you would learn what racism really is"

As Fons of China Herald also answered, it is quite difficult to call it other than racist if a whole people are labeled pigs.

I sometimes have the impression, that people whose countries suffered under western (and nonwestern aka Japanese) imperialism and racism think they are immune to it. The above statement that Chinese are no racists, from my experience, is quite representative for Chinese and it reflects that a lot of Chinese don't consider it to be a problem in their country, are not aware that such a thing could exist in China or don't have an idea what racism really is about.

A recent article in The Guardian has some numbers on racist comments in Internet forums about Condoleecca Rice after her visit in China:

... "He says that of 800 messages he has read about her visit, no less than 70 involved racist comments about her colour: of these, only two were relatively moderate; the rest were vicious, describing Rice as a "black ghost", "black dog", "black woman" and "black bitch". One stated, "You are not even like a black ghost, a really low form of life," and another, "Her brain is even more black than her skin." One writer said: "I don't support racism, but this black ghost really makes people angry, the appearance of a little black who has made good." ...

Actually the research was done by Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese who according to the article strongly opposed statements like those above in an article on the New Century Net website. Encouraging that at least some are aware of the problem.

The numbers are quite interesting, cause they match polls recently done in Europe, which reveal, that an average of 10% of Europeans have racist and anti-Semitic opinions. So China could be considered a rather "normal" country in that concern.

From my viewpoint the main question is not if there exists racism in a country – every human society has the potential for it, and in most societies it exists -, but how a society deals with it. That's a future challenge for Chinese and the Chinese government.

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