Tag Archives: Racism

Yang Rui, etc.

For any foreigners currently living under a rock ((by which I mean not on Twitter)), I suppose I have to start by showing you this rant, posted by CCTV Dialogue host on Sina Weibo:

The Public Security Bureau wants to clean out the foreign trash: To arrest foreign thugs and protect innocent girls, they need to concentrate on the disaster zones in [student district] Wudaokou and [drinking district] Sanlitun. Cut off the foreign snake heads. People who can’t find jobs in the U.S. and Europe come to China to grab our money, engage in human trafficking and spread deceitful lies to encourage emigration. Foreign spies seek out Chinese girls to mask their espionage and pretend to be tourists while compiling maps and GPS data for Japan, Korea and the West. We kicked out that foreign bitch and closed Al-Jazeera’s Beijing bureau. We should shut up those who demonize China and send them packing.*

There are a lot of things I want to say about this, and most of them are swear words ((I seriously considered titling this post ‘Yang Rui Can Go Fuck Himself’)). However, you’ve probably got some creative epithets of your own swirling in your mind at this point, so let’s move on to some slightly more constructive avenues of discussion.

On Integrity

On reading this post, the first emotion that struck me — after anger, that is — was extreme regret. I have taped two episodes of CCTV Dialogue with Yang Rui, although the first one was never aired ((I never heard why, but I was speaking pretty candidly about the Wenzhou crash and I suspect that may have had something to do with it)), and now I really wish that I hadn’t. Of course, I had no way of knowing that nearly a year later, he’d be spewing such hateful nonsense, but I wish there was a way to delete myself from the program retroactively.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Yang was quite rude to me when the cameras were off before and after my appearances on Dialogue. At the time, I chocked it up to the ego that comes with being a professional television anchor ((albeit on a show that I don’t think anyone has ever watched a full episode of)). In retrospect I wonder if perhaps there was something more going on.

Either way though, I want to make it clear that what I regret is the association with him, not my appearance on CCTV in general. In the past, certain people have suggested foreigners who appear in or work for state media — myself included — lack integrity. I think that is nonsense. Although I long ago stopped writing occasional op-ed pieces for the Global Times and I have no intention of ever appearing on CCTV again, I don’t think having done either of those things has damaged my integrity. In both instances, I spoke honestly and directly in defense of my own viewpoints, and eschewed self-censorship ((which is why much of my work fell afoul of ACTUAL censorship)). I don’t regret anything I wrote or said ((At least not for political reasons. I regret a few of my Global Times columns just because they were bad writing, but that’s a separate issue.)), and I don’t think appearing in State media is tacit support of the Party or the Party line if what you’re saying is just as critical as what you’d say to any Western media outlet. Nor do I think taking their money to write content that discredits their editorials and their bosses is doing them any financial favors.

Some may disagree with me on this, and I do understand that point of view. But if I have a chance to go on State media and criticize the response to the Wenzhou train crash, I think that’s just as valuable, perhaps more valuable, than only sharing my criticism here. ((That said, as previously stated, I’m done with Dialogue and probably CCTV as a whole.))

On Soft Power

It’s interesting that this outburst came from Yang Rui, who is in some ways one of the faces of China’s soft power push. Dialogue is an English-language program, which means it is targeted at foreigners in China and abroad by default. The fact that its host (one of them, anyway) is apparently a racist xenophobe is probably indicative of how successful China’s soft power push is likely to be.

But beyond that, it is rather incredible that someone who has been talking to foreigners for years — indeed, someone who is supposed to be one of China’s representatives to foreigners — apparently knows so little about us that he actually believes crazy shit like this:

Foreigners who can’t find a job in their home country come to China and get involved in illegal business activities such as human trafficking and espionage; they also like to distribute lies which discredit China to persuade locals to move abroad. A lot of them look for Chinese women to live with as a disguise to further their espionage efforts. They pretend to be tourists traveling around the country while actually helping Japan and Korea make maps and collect GPS data for military purposes.

It’s so shocking, in fact, that some have wondered if this isn’t satire. I suppose it could be, but if so, Yang seems content to let people continue to think he was being serious; he has updated his Weibo numerous times since that post but none of the updates suggest he was kidding, and some of them suggest he definitely wasn’t. Plus, he doesn’t really seem like the sort for that kind of sarcasm.

If this were any other country, there would be rampant speculation that Yang Rui was about to lose his job. But this is China, and I think we all know that he won’t. That being a rabidly xenophobic (and apparently extremely stupid) person doesn’t disqualify you from holding a post that is dedicated entirely to dealing with foreigners is as strong a sign as any that China has no real interest in soft power. Or perhaps is just utterly incapable of implementing it.

Xenophobia and Weibo Responses

Yang’s comments come at a particularly sensitive time for foreigners, many of whom are concerned about their safety after a British scumbag and a Russian idiot have stirred up a lot of nationalist, anti-foreign sentiment online (all foreigners are the same, so we’re all guilty by association). Probably related is the crackdown on illegal foreigners in Beijing that Yang was commenting on. This crackdown is perfectly fair in theory — every country has immigration laws and the right to enforce them — but the language and imagery that’s being used to promote it is sort of concerning, as is the idea that foreigners will now be required to carry their papers at all times ((technically this has been legally true for a long time, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of it being enforced, and there’s no reason to enforce it because it’s pretty ridiculous)) and submit to random checks. Suddenly, Beijing is feeling a bit like Arizona (that’s not a good thing).

Anyway, the response to Yang Rui’s rant is comparatively heartening. Although there are some commenters who agree with him, there are many who don’t, and as usual, their sarcastic condemnations of his idiocy bring warmth to my twisted foreign heart. Some examples:

Host Yang, you haven’t gone far enough! We should bring back all the officials’ wives and children from overseas to help build the motherland, we must not allow them to be polluted by foreign trash, yes, and also we should close the borders/forbid international travel, so that there is no contact with overseas forces.

There is a reason fewer and fewer people are watching TV…

Yes, and we should close down all the TV channels that speak foreign languages! [Yang works for CCTV English]

At first I thought that it was just Mr. Yang’s English [abilities] that were disappointing, but now I see there are many disappointing things about him.

The fact that this CCTV host isn’t writing editorials for the Beijing Daily is truly a waste of talent.

Isn’t your daughter studying in the US?

Haha, so Yang Rui is really this big a dumbass. A dumbass pretending to be cool but actually a Boxer.

So this is the quality of CCTV? Anyway, where did you study your English? Do the people there think about you this way?

I want to ask, can you speak Chinese? How can someone so incoherent become a TV host…

This is exactly how the Boxer Rebellion started…

Of course, there are also comments in there that are serious and seriously disturbing. But it’s heartening to see that the sane people still seem to outnumber the racist xenophobes.

Stay safe, everyone.

ADDENDUM: This is probably obvious from the post itself, but I would strongly suggest that foreigners boycott CCTV Dialogue and decline any future invitations to appear on the program. There are numerous other ways to interact with the Chinese media; there is no need to support the efforts of a man who so clearly has nothing but hatred for foreigners.

*Note: I have switched out the Global Times translation for the better translation offered by the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog. (Click that link for their full post on Yang).

What an Idiot Foreigner Shows Us About Xenophobia and Sexism in China

This post has been translated into Chinese for our Chinese site. 请点此看中文译文

WARNING: This post contains explicit language. Put the kids to bed first.

This video was being passed around on Twitter a week or two ago. It’s embedded below, but in case you can’t see it or it loads slowly because you’re outside China, it’s a drunk foreigner, apparently married to a Chinese woman, making an idiot of himself. The video title says he’s “beating” his father in law, but no “beating” really occurs, just a little grabbing and shoving as Captain Drunkface is flailing around on the ground. Here’s the video:

Let me get this out of the way first: the guy is clearly a moron, and deserves most of the abuse netizens can heap upon him. But the reason he deserves a bit of abuse isn’t because he’s foreign, or because he’s married to a Chinese girl, it’s because he is a moron. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I am not operating from a neutral position here, since I’m a foreigner who is engaged to a Chinese woman.

Another disclaimer: I am aware that this kind of stuff exists in all cultures, and the internet is a prime breeding ground for xenophobic misogynists. This, as ever, is a blog about China. I’m not suggesting Americans, or the Dutch, or anyone else, are any better, just suggesting that the phenomenon might be worth looking at in China.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the comments netizens have posted on the video. I’ve selectively translated ((i.e., these comments are not representative of the whole community commenting on that video, just a part of it. That said, it did not take me much effort to find any of these quotations.)) those that I think connect to xenophobia and/or sexism and tried to categorize them, though many fall into both categories.

Xenophobic Comments

Most of these comments were chosen because they contain the term 洋鬼子, or “foreign devil”, which is probably the most derogatory Mandarin slur for foreigners.

“Worthless foreign devil.”

“The foreign devil should be detained; however, that police officer speaking some English isn’t bad.”

“Not all about foreign devils is good, many people who worship foreign things are just scared.”

“Foreign devils acting wild in China, it all comes from the Manchu period of backwardness and humiliation.”

“Foreign devils, bah!”

“In my life, I will not marry or even like a foreigner. And when I have kids, I will not allow them to marry foreigners.”

“Women who marry foreign devils are truly worthless. Women who marry this kind of guy are even worse.”

“Truly disgusting. When they’re drunk, the true evil in the hearts of foreigners is perfectly revealed.”

“Foreign garbage.” [A lot of people made this comment]

The fact that this video is even popular in the first place is evidence that foreigners are treated differently by many Chinese. After all, drunken idiots being hauled off by the police is something you can see on any street corner in China (or anywhere else in the world). And the fact that everyone feels the need to say “this foreign guy” instead of just “this guy” shows us that there’s a clear interest in keeping him separate from anything “Chinese.” He is the Other.

Fair enough. I must admit, I myself would be relieved if I had some proof this guy wasn’t American, because it’s embarrassing to be associated with his behavior. Furthermore, the situation is complicated by the fact that many commenters feel the man received special treatment because of his race and say he would have been dealt with more swiftly and violently had he been Chinese. We don’t, of course, know anything about the predilections of the police officer in question, so that assertion is impossible to evaluate conclusively, but it is certainly possible. No one would deny that on the whole, foreigners often receive special treatment from Chinese police.

But regardless, there’s a lot of anger directed at the man’s foreignness, rather than at his behavior or at his having received special treatment. The term 洋鬼子, a harsh enough bit of invective that very few Chinese people would say it to a foreigner’s face, is thrown around in these comment sections as though it were the proper term of “foreigner”. It’s a bit like reading comments on a news story about a black criminal that are full of the word “n****r”.

My concern here is not that the Chinese aren’t properly PC, because who cares. What concerns me is what’s behind the language choice, thousands of commenters taking one bad moment in the life of a single foreigner and using it to spread hundred-year-old stereotypes and apply them to the entirety of the non-Chinese world, i.e. around 5/6 of the planet. In using slurs to refer to the foreigner, many people seem to be implying what that one commenter made explicit: there is something explicitly different and evil about foreigners, and they hide it to trick us.

Old Chinese Drawing of a Foreigner

Comments Concerning Chinese Women with Foreigners

Many of these comments are inherently sexist and xenophobic.

“When you marry a foreigner, even your own father will get hurt.”

“How many Chinese girls are happy with foreigners? Chinese men are better.”

“Why would [she] want to marry a foreigner?”

“I don’t really get why so many women like being fucked by foreign guys.”

“In truth, it’s not [just] being obsessed with foreign things. I just don’t get women these days…”

“Our family has a coarse saying: don’t let foreigners fuck good cunts!”

“I once saw a group of Northeasterners beating up two foreigners, the foreigners were drunk and had been catcalling at a Chinese girl. Then three northeasterners came along and beat those foreigners till they were kneeling. One foreigner might have actually been unconscious, he was lying on the ground…”

“A loss of face? Chinese people have already lost all the face there is to lose. And this old guy? How could he marry his daughter to this foreigner? Is avoiding [another] loss of face enough? Just quickly divorce the guy, don’t lose any more face.”

“Don’t let the next generation of Chinese be mixed-race! This is not only tarnishing Chinese families, but it is a humiliation to the great traditions of the Chinese people!”

“Who raised this girl? All of her “benefits” flowing into the “fields” of a foreigner, it would be better to just have a dog instead of this kind of daughter.”

The issues here are complex. The concept of “face” being as important as it is in China, many of the commenters felt this woman had lost face for China by marrying such an idiot. Many more felt marrying foreigners in general was a loss of face, and wondered why she couldn’t just marry a Chinese guy. Love, or the personalities of the man and the woman, never entered into the equation. I didn’t see a single comment wondering what it was she saw in him in the first place, just a lot calling her “worthless” and comparing her unfavorably to a dog for having married a “garbage foreigner” and being someone who “worships foreign things”.

Of course, when a foreign girl offers Chinese men so much as a hug, Chinese men are clamoring over her. It’s not traitorous for Chinese men to drool over, have sex with, or marry foreign women. In fact, it is glorious, a conquest of sorts. But many of these comments imply Chinese women don’t have the same freedoms, even if the foreigner they’re with isn’t a drunken idiot, the fact that he’s a foreigner at all is enough to make them “worthless” in the eyes of their male countrymen.

Yes, I am aware the internet is an mostly-male, sexist place. I’m also aware that taking a stand against sexism and xenophobia isn’t exactly gutsy or cutting edge. But regardless, these comments are real, and judging by the number of people who’ve written things like them, people who actually believe this stuff aren’t rare at all, so I think they’re worth looking at and talking about, at least for a day.

What are your thoughts? (Hint: this is the part where you say I’m overreacting, trying to “force Western values on China”, or make conjectures about my personal life!)

Hecaitou on Race in China

A couple weeks ago, I sent out an informal survey on race to the emails of many of the Chinese people whose blogs I read. I got nothing in response from anyone (a few “mail delivery failures” was all) until a few days ago when I got a response from a rather unexpected place: Hecaitou.

I hadn’t expected a response from him because the two of us had a bit of a misunderstanding last year after I wrote this post, which he and fellow Chinese author and blogger Wang Xiaofeng took as an accusation that they themselves were racist. We eventually worked it out, but not before he wrote a rather scathing essay condemning me, one that prompted one of my Chinese friends to stop in the middle of reading it, turn to me gravely, and say “This is bad.”

Needless to say, I’m extremely grateful that he took the time to respond to my questions about race again despite all of this. What’s more, I think his responses are quite interesting. I’ve translated my questions and his answers below. For the first time ever, I’m also going to post the original Chinese text, for extra clarity’s sake.

Translation

(My questions are translated below in bold, the quoted answers to each question are Hecaitou’s responses.) 原文点此(汉)

1) Following China’s reforms and opening up and its economic development, the number of foreigners coming to China for travel and business is increasing. Because China’s relationship with some African nations is relatively close, recently there have been more immigrants from Africa. Do you believe that in the future, as there are more people of different races in China, there will be any kind of conflict? Is conflict possible or not? Why?

Your question implies something: will Chinese people have a conflict with black people? Obviously, you also know, the chance of there being a conflict between Chinese people and whites is very small. At the same time, you stressed that it’s immigrants from Africa, not Africa descendants from America, England, France, Germany, or other developed countries. So the question is already quite clear, you’re asking whether Chinese people have any particular attitude towards people of color from undeveloped nations. The question has [thus] already changed from race to an economic, cultural, and political question. What they [Africans] will experience in China isn’t very different from what poor people experience coming to a rich neighborhood, or rural children experience coming to the city.

2) Could you explain for us how we should understand the difference between “race” (种族) and “ethnicity” (民族)? What is the difference between a racial conflict and an ethnic conflict? Is “Han chauvinism” (汉族主义) racism?

Generally, “race” is understood to refer to different types of people: black, white, and yellow. “Ethnicity” is understood as a group that shares common culture, language, and customs. But China is a country where Han people make up an absolute majority, and it is at the same time quite separated from the outside world, so there is not a particularly strong conception of race. Instead, the concept of ethnicity is much more pervasive. In history, states founded by Han people have been defeated twice by ethnic minorities; the first was the Mongols, the second was the Manchus. The Manchus founded the Qing dynasty and ruled for 268 years until the modern China emerged. To overturn the Manchu government, the leader of the Han Sun Yat-sen [Sun Zhongshan] raised distinct slogans for minorities, demanded that Manchus and Mongols leave Han places, and China began to change into a nation-state. However, even though it was Sun Yat-sen who came up with the slogan “the 5-ethnicity republic” meaning that Han, Mongol, Tibetan, Hui, and Manchurian ethnic groups would build a republic together, [they] did not persist in following the path of nationalism.

In China, you can obviously tell from physical characteristics that Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Han people aren’t part of the same racial group [人种]. In the past two thousand years the mixing of different ethnicities is very obvious, so nearly all Han people also carry a little bit of the blood of other ethnicities. I understand that instances of refusal of employment, marriage, or school entrance on account of differing ethnicities are extremely rare.

3) Sometimes, foreigners in China receive special treatment. At times, it seems foreigners have more rights than Chinese. Lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan once told me “Chinese law gives all kinds of special privileges to foreigners in China.” This is true, however, foreigners living in China are often cheated and encounter prejudices among the people. How should foreigners understand Chinese people’s attitudes toward foreigners?

1. Tell Chinese people you aren’t rich, you’re a fellow worker. 2. If you’ve been cheated, seek the police, they will be happy to help; in terms of their boring jobs, this would be something fresh.

4) Liu Xiaoyuan also told me, “Although much prejudice exists in China, there are no laws concerning racial prejudice.” Do you feel there ought to be? What kind of laws should there be?

Chinese people invented a term called “Chinese people” [中华民族], so all ethnicities fall under the term “the Chinese people”; therefore, there is no legal racial difference. Race has never been a problem, but after a law [about racial discrimination] was passed [hypothetically], people would probably suddenly start to be aware of racial differences, and perhaps discrimination would arise as a result.

Lou Jing
5) Have you heard of Lou Jing? Have a look at some of the comments netizens left about her, do you feel they indicate a prejudice against black people, or even constitute racial discrimination?

If her black father was Denzel Washington, I think the comments would be completely different. Although there are this many negative comments, the reason is she’s being seen as an illegitimate child, and the masses believe her father is poor. Chinese people may not be prejudiced against black people, but their prejudice against poor people is real.

6) There are people who say there is no racism in China, and Chinese don’t differentiate between black and white; they say that people who raise this issue are using foreign standards to judge China. But there are also people that say as China becomes a superpower, the people of the world will use international standards to judge China, not Chinese standards. Are these two “standards” [i.e., Chinese standards for what’s “racist” vs. foreign standards] really different? If they’re different, how do you think China should resolve this problem, or does it not need to be resolved?

This isn’t a problem. Chinese people don’t use race as a standard of judgement, they decide themselves if they should show respect or scorn. White people’s North American and European politics, culture, science, and economy are all very developed, but black people’s Africa always seems very backward, so Chinese people show more respect toward whites. At the same time in Asia, Chinese people’s attitudes about Koreans and Japanese are very different from their attitudes towards Vietnamese, Cambodians, and people from Laos. The reason is similar; Japan and Korea are developed, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos aren’t.

If race becomes a problem in China, the proof will be that Chinese people aren’t willing to shake hands with Tiger Woods simply because his skin is a different color. Obviously, this isn’t the case, people fight to be the first to get his autograph. If there is really some international standard, I hope it says: people are all equal, and people aren’t treated differently whether they are rich or poor.

7) If you have anything else to say related to this topic, write it here:

The first time I came in contact with people of another race was when I was 21. At that time, I was in college, and for the first time shook hands with a black student, Mark. I had already received a complete higher education, but after I shook his hand I couldn’t keep myself from secretly looking at my hand — to see if it had become black or not. Reason told me that this kind of thinking is absurd. But because I’d never come in contact with a black person before, my emotions led me to do this baffling thing.

Many years have passed, and I’m happy to say that I no longer look at my hand after shaking hands with black people, because in the intervening years I’ve seen many black people: tall, short, good, and bad. After seeing many black people, as far as I’m concerned, they don’t seem very different, they’re the same as me. It’s just that they happen to be black, as I understand it, it’s because the sun in Africa is too strong.

Africans protesting in Guangzhou

My Thoughts

First off, I want to express my gratitude again to Hecaitou for taking his time to respond. Throughout, he argues that what we might call “racism” is actually more like classism; prejudice against poor people. I’ve heard that argument before, but never expressed more convincingly, and I think he makes a great point. While I remain unconvinced that some Chinese people don’t make judgements based on race, he is absolutely right that in real life people’s behaviors reflect all kinds of prejudices at once. The harsh invective hurled at Lou Jing, for example, contains judgment based on class and also judgment based on cultural mores, not just judgment based on race. Does that negate the existence of judgement based on race? I leave it to you, commenters.

Source Docs: 访问和菜头(关于种族和民族歧视)

(Source Docs is a new kind of post. In the future, if we discover rare documents or conduct original interviews, transcripts will be posted under Source Docs for Chinese readers to enjoy, study, critique, etc.)

访问和菜头(关于种族和民族歧视)

Read the English translation of this interview here!

1)随着改革开放和中国经济的发展,来中国旅游,工作的外国人越来越多。因为中国跟一些非洲发展国家的关系也最近比较密切,来自非洲来中国的黑人也多了。您是否觉得将来,中国不同种族的人多了就会发生什么样的冲突?有没有可能?为什么?

回答:你的问题暗示着一件事情:中国人是否会和黑人之间发生冲突?很明显,你也清楚地知道,中国人和白人之间发生冲突的可能性并不大。同时,你强调指出,是来自非洲的黑人,而不是英美法德这些发达国家的非洲后裔。那么,问题已经非常清楚了,你在询问中国人对于来自落后国家的有色人种持有什么态度?问题已经从种族转化成为了经济、文化、政治问题。他们在中国会遇见的事情,和穷人来到富人区、乡村孩子来到城市之后发生的事情没有什么不同。

2)您是否能给我们解释一下我们应该怎么了解“种族”和“民族”的区别?民族之间的冲突,种族之间的冲突有什么不一样?汉族主义算不算种族主义?

回答:在一般定义上,种族被理解为不同的人种,黑人、白人、黄人。民族被理解为具有相同文化、语言、习俗的人群。但是,中国是一个汉族人占据人口绝对多数的国家,同时又和外部世界相距很远,所以对于种族的观念并不是很强,反而是民族的观念深入人心。在中国的历史上,汉族人建立的政权曾经两次被少数民族所击溃。第一次是蒙古人,第二次是满人。满人建立了清朝,统治时间长达268年,一直到近代意义上的中国出现。汉人为了推翻满人的统治,其领袖孙中山提出了鲜明的民族口号,要求把满人和蒙古人驱逐出汉人的地方,于是中国开始转变为一个民族国家。不过,即便是孙中山,随后也提出了“五族共和”的口号,意思是汉族蒙古族藏族回族满族一起建立一个共和制度的国家,并没有坚持走民族主义的道路。

在中国,很明显地可以从身体特征上看出,维吾尔人,哈萨克人,和汉人并不隶属于相同的人种。但是,基于人种不同而爆发种族间的冲突,这是不可以想象的。类似苏丹发生的阿拉伯人和黑人之间的战争,在中国几乎并不存在。

汉族主义算不上是一种种族主义,因为即便汉人自己也承认:没有所谓纯粹的汉族人。在过去的两千年间,民族融合现象非常明显,所有汉人都多少带有一点其他民族的血统。认为民族不同,就拒绝雇佣、婚姻、入学,这样的事情极少听说。

3)有的时候,在中国的外国人会受到很特别待遇。有时外国人的权利好像比中国人的还多,刘晓原律师曾经跟我说“中国的法律对在中国的外国人还给予种种特权”。那倒是,可是,住在中国的外国人也经常会被欺骗,也会遇到一些民间的偏见。我们外国人应该怎么了解中国人对外国人的态度?

回答:1、告诉中国人,你并不是有钱人,也是工农弟兄。2、被欺骗找警察,他们会乐于帮助,因为这对于他们无聊的工作来说,是件新鲜事。

4)刘律师也告诉过我,“中国虽然存在很多歧视.但在法律上没有种族歧视规定”。您觉得应该有吗?应该有什么样的规定?

回答:中国人发明了一个说法,叫做中华民族,所有的民族都属于中华民族,所以,在法律上就不存在种族上的差异了。种族从来不是个问题,但是立法之后,大概的大家会突然意识到种族差异的存在,那么,可能因此会有种族歧视的出现。

5)您是否听说过娄婧? 看看网民留的一些关于她的评论,您是否觉得含有对黑人的偏见,甚至于种族歧视? (没听过您可以自己看一下:http://club.pchome.net/thread_1_15_4460806.html )

回答:如果她的黑人父亲是丹泽.华盛顿,那么相信评论就完全不一样了。之所以有如此之多负面的评论,原因是她被视为一个私生子,而且民众相信她的父亲没有钱。中国人未必歧视黑人,不过,他们歧视穷人是真的。

6)有的人说中国根本没有种族歧视,中国人也不分别黑白,说提到这个话题的外国人只是用外国的标准来衡量中国。但是也有人说因中国要变成超级国家,世界上的人民会用世界的标准来衡量并不会用中国的标准。这两种标准是否真的不一样?不一样的话,您觉得中国应该怎么办法这个问题,或者是否是不需要解决的?

回答:这根本不构成一个问题。中国人并不以种族来做评判标准,以决定自己是应该表现出尊敬还是蔑视。白人的北美、欧洲在政治、文化、科技、经济上都很发达,而黑人的非洲总是显得很落后,所以,中国人对白种人体现出更多的敬意。同样是黄种人的东亚,中国人对韩国、日本人的态度,和对越南、柬埔寨、老挝人的态度就很不一样。原因也类似,日本韩国发达,而越南、柬埔寨、老挝落后。

如果种族问题要真正成为一个问题,除非有证据显示,中国人拒绝和Tiger.Woods握手,仅仅是因为他的肤色。很明显,事情并不是这样的,人们争先恐后地去索要他的签名。如果真有什么世界标准的话,希望这条标准是说:人人生而平等,不会因为贫富差距而受到不同的对待。

7)您有任何一个跟这个话题有关的想法请您随便写:

回答:我第一次接触到其它种族的人,是在我21岁的时候。当时我在念大学,第一次和一个黑人学生Mark握手。当时,我已经受过完备的高等教育,但是等握完手,我还是情不自禁地偷偷看自己的手掌—看看它是不是变黑了。理性告诉我说,这种想法是何等荒谬。但是,由于我从未接触过黑人,我的情感却驱使我去做了这样一件莫名其妙的事情。

很多年过去了,我很高兴地说,我现在和黑人握手已经不会再看自己的手掌了。因为这些年来,我见过很多黑人,高的,矮的,好的,坏的。等我见了许多黑人之后,在我看来,他们就不再显得非常特别,而是和我一样。无非是他们碰巧是黑的,我理解为非洲的太阳太过强烈。

A Few Quick Links

This blog has, perhaps, earned its name in some small part due to our coverage of racism in China (even though we’re told it doesn’t exist). On that front, I point you in the direction of a few more drops in the bucket.

First, a popular Chinese social network game that allows players to enslave their friends (virtually; think “Happy Farm” but with more slavery) also allows them to punish their female friends by, among other things, forcing them to marry “an old black man”. From ChinaSocialGames via BendiLaowai:

Slave Manor copies the original Facebook game Friends for Sale! but takes the competition to another level. White-collar workers flock to the SNS Kaixin001 to hire their boss as their virtual slave—upon which they can make him shovel shit or marry an extremely ugly girl. Female slaves can be assigned to different hardships: serving as a “special hostess” or marrying an old black slave. The punishments on the original Facebook game were likely far tamer.

Another little bit of evidence popped up on Blood and Treasure in their analysis of the critical response to Lu Jiamin’s book Wolf Totem, which itself made some criticisms of Han culture. They also briefly discuss Hanwang, a site they say boasts over 100,000 members and compares to a Chinese StormFront.

Also of interest, perhaps, is this op-ed piece in the New York Times that compares Mao Zedong to Ho Chi Minh, then calls the two of them “Gods”:

These 70-percent Gods are interesting creatures. They no longer slaughter. They do not imprison en masse. They don’t try to fast-forward to utopia.

No, they build firewalls rather than walls. They fear peaceful protest more than violent movements. They ban Facebook rather than banish folk to camps. They’re less ruthless but more stressed. In short, they’ve gone through 21st century makeovers.

These makeovers have been successful. It’s hard, but not impossible, to imagine the survival of the one-party Chinese and Vietnamese states without the fabulous growth Market-Leninism has produced.

The thing is, however, that such dynamic societies produce more educated, wealthier people; and those people in time wonder about things other than getting a bigger apartment or a car. They start wondering whether they should determine who governs them. They wonder about freedom of expression. They get irritated by corruption. They wonder why they can’t Twitter.

And that is why — a great paradox — the custodians of the 70-percent Gods are so nervous at the very moment when things are going their way, when they have growth unimaginable in the West, when everyone’s talking of China’s rise.

There are some ideas in the piece that I agree with, and some I don’t, but it’s all couched in a rather crazy metaphor. Viewing Mao Zedong as a “God”, I think, does nothing to help us understand the effect he’s had on modern Chinese culture and politics, or why Twitter is blocked. The 70% doctrine (the idea that Mao was 70% right and 30% wrong) does not make him a “70% God”; rather, it was a conscious effort to humanize him. Roger Cohen obviously doesn’t agree with the 70/30 ratio, but calling Mao a “God” to Chinese people doesn’t help anyone understand why many Chinese people do agree with the 70/30 ratio.

Favoring Foreigners

There is a reason that when the topic of racism in China comes up, many Chinese think of the preferential treatment foreigners sometimes receive, rather than anything else. (including famous lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, who told us “Chinese law gives foreigners all sorts of special privileges” when we contacted him for this post). In reading about the KaiEn English fiasco, I found a pretty good example.

The short version of what seems like a rather over-dramatized story is that the heads of a Shanghai English school ran out of money and left the school more or less overnight, leaving a trail of unpaid employees and untaught students who had already paid tuitions in their wake. I have absolutely no interest in entering into the speculation about whose fault this is, or how (if at all) it’s connected to ChinesePod. I did, however, find this sentence from the Shanghai Daily rather interesting:

Foreign teachers of KaiEn English Training Center, which closed suddenly earlier this week, will receive 20 to 30 percent of their lost salary tomorrow as the first batch of life aid, the Chinese partner of the joint institution announced today.

Chinese staff and students were told to wait until the financial situation of the school was figured out.

[…]

Foreign teachers said that they are owed at least 2 months of salary ranging from 12,000 yaun to 40,000 yuan, even higher.

Chinese teachers’ salaries were delayed even longer on average, though their monthly wage is lower.

Obviously, everyone involved deserves to be paid — in full — for the work that they did, but honestly examining the situation, wouldn’t it make more sense to pay the Chinese teachers before the foreigners? After all, the foreigners were making more money. If KaiEn’s payment works like many of the English schools in China, foreign staff were probably payed somewhere between two to six times the salary of the Chinese staff (and they probably worked fewer hours than the Chinese staff, too). Aren’t the foreign teachers thus more likely to be able to hold out for a bit longer without salary than the Chinese staff who were being paid less? And frankly, aren’t they going to have an easier time finding other work as an English teacher than the Chinese staff probably are?

Now, to be fair, I have no special knowledge about the workings of KaiEn English specifically, nor do I know anyone who worked there personally. Given that, perhaps it’s best to put the question to you: wouldn’t it have made more sense to pay the Chinese staff first, or to pay everyone a smaller amount at the same time? Why were the foreigners paid first?

Race and the Law in China

It was with some interest that we read this story in the New York Times last week. It seems South Korea, like China, has some issues with racism. And South Korea, like China, is a country where the number of foreigners (often people of other races) is increasing. What was interesting about the article, then, is that the South Korean government is starting to do something about racist incidents. For example:

On the evening of July 10, Bonogit Hussain, a 29-year-old Indian man, and Hahn Ji-seon, a female Korean friend, were riding a bus near Seoul when a man in the back began hurling racial and sexist slurs at them.

The situation would be a familiar one to many Korean women who have dated or even — as in Ms. Hahn’s case — simply traveled in the company of a foreign man.

What was different this time, however, was that, once it was reported in the South Korean media, prosecutors sprang into action, charging the man they have identified only as a 31-year-old Mr. Park with contempt, the first time such charges had been applied to an alleged racist offense. Spurred by the case, which is pending in court, rival political parties in Parliament have begun drafting legislation that for the first time would provide a detailed definition of discrimination by race and ethnicity and impose criminal penalties.

That led me to wonder, does China have any kind of law preventing racial discrimination? There are, of course, laws and policies safeguarding ethnic minorities, but what about people of different races, i.e. Lou Jing, who is ethnically Chinese but racially half African? Are there laws that could punish people for hurling racist invective at her in China?

I decided to ask three people who know way, way more about the law than I do. I sent them a list of questions, but the most important one was this: “What, if anything, does the Chinese law have to say about racial and/or ethnic discrimination?”

The first to respond was Dan Harris, of China Law Blog, an international lawyer based in the US. Dan replied:

I have to confess that I know very little about the questions you ask […] I have to tell you though, that I cannot recall a single instance where any race related issue has come up involving any of our China clients, which helps justify my ignorance on the subject.

The second person I asked was Stan Abrams, of the blog China Hearsay. Stan is a lawyer who’s been living and practicing in Beijing since 1999, and he had this to say in response to my query:

Not much help from my end either, I’m afraid. Never comes up for me either (not exactly a corporate or IP law issue) in practice.

That being said, the law here does contain certain preferences and protections for ethnic minorities. I have come across this in the area of university admissions, and I believe that various other laws/policies contain similar provisions (State and local). I doubt that there is anything in law that collects all these different policies, which means that you will need to look around in various places for this stuff. Beyond the usual keyword searches, I’m not sure where to find this type of thing.

For what it’s worth, I have not heard anything about legal reform in this area. If something was going to be changed with respect to labor law on this specific issue, I would have expected that to have happened in 2007/8, and I don’t think it did.

The third person I asked was Liu Xiaoyuan, the only Chinese lawyer whose name I know, whose practice runs the gamut from criminal defense to traffic accident compensation to marriage law. I didn’t really expect Liu to respond, as we’ve never met or spoken before, but he did. His response — which was quite brief — is translated below:

In China, although there is much prejudice, there is no law on the books about racial prejudice. In fact, Chinese law gives foreigners all sorts of special privileges.

Further searches of the internet also proved fruitless. Dan Harris’s partner at theChina Law Blog, Steve Dickinson, offered me one interpretation why that might be. “There is no concept of race in China,” Dickinson wrote,

…the concept of “race” is a European concept that has no application in China. There is, however, a strong concept of ethnic identity […] Whether they are the same or not is something that would require a careful set of definitions. My point is that the Chinese care about culture but they do not care about blood. Therefore, your basic identity is the culture you follow, not who were your parents.

He’s right, of course, in saying that the Chinese spend a lot more time talking about ethnicity (民族) than they do about race (种族). But the idea that Chinese care about culture more than blood doesn’t really seem to fit with what happened to Lou Jing, an ethnically Chinese but racially half-African Shanghainese girl who was abused by many Chinese netizens for her skin color and racial background despite the fact that she shared their culture.

If there are laws to defend Lou Jing, and those that will inevitably follow her as the number of foreigners and mixed-race couples in China continues to grow, even Liu Xiaoyuan doesn’t know about them. The next questions, of course, are: should there be? And if so, when will there be such laws?