Racism in China vs. America

I blogrolled these guys two weeks ago and have meant to call them out. This post on racism in China (if, of course, it exists at all) and how it compares with that elsewhere gives me special reason to do so. Note especially the delicious update and the excellent comments.

This is a consistently excellent blog that impressed me from day one.

Update: Interesting link from the comments thread. I’d mentioned on this site before an anecdote about my first coming to China in 2002 to take a course at Fudan Daxue. There, a California-born Chinese-American student who could barely speak a word of Chinese was in despair that no Chinese students would accept him as an ESL teacher because he “didn’t look like an American.” They couldn’t deal with the idea of being taught English by a Chinese person, even if what made him “Chinese” was purely superficial. Hearing him that day asking our Chinese teacher how to convince students he was a native English speaker, and hearing the teacher tell him there was nothing he could do — well, that’ll stay with me forever. Mandatory disclaimer: Americans have a long and ongoing history of racism, and often, as the China Geeks story and comments indicate, it manifests itself in uglier ways than it does here. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 55 Comments

[...] Peking Duck for providing the [...]

March 23, 2009 @ 5:31 pm | Pingback

Racism abounds in China. It may not be as visible as it is in countries like the United States, but it’s definitely there.

March 23, 2009 @ 8:46 pm | Comment

1.4B people and a couple of foreigners in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other larger cities basically means that there is very little person to person contact between homogeneous China and any other types of people. Laowai are still a novelty to most Chinese. I see more ignorance rather than racism. When I was in China there were many, many African students sponsored by the Chinese government who also received a monthly living stipend. Fellow communist brethren.

I recall traveling hard sleeper from Beijing to Guangzhou with an African. There was more curiosity than hatred. Nothing that 36 hours on a train would not fix. He told me most Chinese were initially guarded but would warm up once they knew him. On arrival in Guangzhou we all parted as friends.

Racial hypersensitivity I see on Chinageeks seems odd to those who have not lived in context.

March 23, 2009 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

I dislike the notion of a “mandatory disclaimer”. We’re talking about racism as an issue in China, not elsewhere.

It may not be overtly expressed, but I would argue that the idea people with black skin are inferior exists in the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Chinese. And that’s a lot of trouble waiting to happen.

March 23, 2009 @ 11:24 pm | Comment

I was surprised when Jay Leno made a racist joke in his monologue last Friday night about how the Chinese workers who made drywall panels that emitted sulfur were punished by being held back in the 3rd grade. The audience actually booed him, and he got all defensive, but some people laughed at his joke. I found a petition online though saying that Leno has made lots of racist Asian jokes before.

March 24, 2009 @ 3:12 am | Comment

@Don Tai

Here we go again. Have you ever had a problem with racism in China? Guess not. Does that mean that it doesn’t exist? Of course not. You just might want to consider the possibility that there are things that foreigners see more clearly…

You claim that lack of exposure to foreigners would explain Chinese people’s reactions to foreigners. Wow! You could explain away a lot of things in the West that are branded as racism with that argument.

March 24, 2009 @ 3:13 am | Comment

I feel I hit a nerve here. China, like Japan is no doubt a very homogeneous country with relatively few people that have met a foreigner. There is more to China than its large cities. I never wrote that China does not have racism. I’m sure racism exists in China as in any other part of the world. I’m not here to defend the Chinese nation, only to say that in my experience I’ve not seen blatant racism in China.

Growing up in a country (Canada) that practices subtle racism, I play the racism card very carefully. There is room for misinterpretation on both sides of a fence.

@Hemulen If you have an example of racism in China please enlighten me. As a laowai in China have you experienced racism?

March 24, 2009 @ 4:16 am | Comment

@Don Tai

Yes, I have. I have been refused accommodation at hotels because I don’t look Chinese. I have been mobbed by a crowd because I tried to help a similarly foreign-looking friend to argue about the price (just like any Chinese would do). Chinese friends that have tried to help me have been called traitors (yangnu). I have been overcharged because I look foreign. Anything I do is judged against the background that I don’t look Chinese. It doesn’t matter how well I speak Chinese.

You say that China is a homogeneous society. Ever thought about how that homogeneity was achieved in the first place? A lot of people, who accuse Tibetans of wanting to ethnically cleanse Tibet, think it was completely natural that almost all foreigners were expelled from China between 1945-1950.

March 24, 2009 @ 6:05 am | Comment

Every country has got racism.
I’ve been treated badly because of the way I look here in Canada. I don’t have an accent and I grew up here since I was 6. But I still get the go back to where you came from, racial slurs, worse service than my ‘white’ friends. This doesn’t happen all the time but racism exists here in Canada too.
Racism should be addressed in every country but by saying it happens here or it happens there is kinda pointless. Of course it exists.

Should China be held to a higher standard than the States/Canada? I don’t think so. Maybe in a couple more years, more awareness of racial issues will improve blantant discrimination to the subtle and less often overt type I get in Canada. But that’s not really a solution and doesn’t make me feel much better.

I don’t see anything wrong with Tibetans wanting to be free of the Commmunist government or anything wrong with Chinese people wanting to kick the foreigners out in 1945 – 1950.

March 24, 2009 @ 7:55 am | Comment

Stuart, you are right that there should be no need for a mandatory disclaimer. Experience shows, however, that if I don’t put it in, most of the comments will be about how bad America is.

March 24, 2009 @ 7:59 am | Comment

Lori, every country has racism. No dispute. Did you see my disclaimer in the post explaining that America has racism that can take on a darker side than China’s? And I don’t think anyone is holding China to a higher standard than any other country – what makes you think so?

March 24, 2009 @ 8:27 am | Comment

hemulen….

Personally, I think that any discussion on racism requires a definition. A definition that is acceptable to all participants. Then, one needs to restrict his opinions to the KIND of racism being discussed, there are many. Bias, prejudice and stereotypes are not in and of themselves racism.

It seems to me that any debate about racism in China must be limited to post nineteenth century – since anthropology was not introduced here until circa 1920′s. By the Japanese, I believe. So, racism is a concept introduced in China by the white man via the Japanese.

Racism, western racism, if it exists in China at all, and to some small degree it does. I would think that it is the exclusive domain of the educated, sophisticated, and worldly Chinese and not the man on the street who knows nothing about sensitivities and sensibilities.

Many of the incidents you relate, to me, are not racism. Especially when haggling is involved. Emotions can escalate and get out of control. Money, any amount of money, is sacrosanct to a Chinese. Too, there is a thing called ‘attitude.’ You may well project an aura of superiority that elicits negativity when dealing with others.

Essentially, what I get from your posts is that you EXPECT to be treated better than others. On a personal basis, I couldn’t care less – however, there are those that do.

Enjoy your day.

March 24, 2009 @ 8:50 am | Comment

@Richard

Sadly, I do think China is held to a different standard than the rest of the world?

@Riace

You may well project an aura of superiority that elicits negativity when dealing with others.

Sorry, I just don’t see what you are going with this. The very fact that I’m “white” seems to imply that I have “an aura of superiority”. Sorry, but I didn’t chose the color of my skin, neither did you.

What if I don’t feel superior? What if I’m just “going native” and haggling like anybody else around me? And what if I can’t do that because I look different and anything I do, or say, is interpreted in the light of me looking like a foreigner? If you assume that every “white” person in China that is obnoxious and argumentative is feeling superior, then maybe, you are the person feeling superior.

March 24, 2009 @ 9:28 am | Comment

hemulen…..

did you come to China to change China…good luck. Sounds to me as though you want to be ‘too’ native. You’re not Chinese – you’ll never be Chinese. Accept it and move on.

Let’s see; you’re obnoxious, argumentative AND sensitive. Gee, no small wonder that you can’t get along with others.

Thicken your hide a tad, calm down and don’t act out and things will by themselves become better for you. No, no I don’t feel superior – just smug… LOL.

Regardless, nothing personal here.

Enjoy.

March 24, 2009 @ 9:57 am | Comment

Some countries funny stereotypes are considered racist statements in other countries.

And some racist statements are just considered funny stereotypes on others.

Some people find out they are racist when they find different persons, some people are afraid to become racist but eventually find out they are not

Still, the referenced post has some missing evolutionary links for the African man…. and final evolutionary step should the “Obama” man ;-)

March 24, 2009 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

Thanks for the love, Richard! (Meant to come post this earlier, but as you’ve probably noticed, we’ve been a bit swamped with traffic since yesterday…)

March 24, 2009 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

@Riace

This was an interesting and enlightening exchange. I’m happy to see that you are open to a dialogue about these things. I think the rest of the world have a lot to learn from your open-mindedness and humble attitude.

March 24, 2009 @ 9:49 pm | Comment

I hadn’t been watching this thread. Am delighted to see it’s deteriorated into the usual idiotic shouting match. Wish I could monitor constantly and nip these stupidities in the bud.

March 24, 2009 @ 9:56 pm | Comment

The assertion that racism in America is somehow more egregious than in China is fallacious.

I grew up in China and Hong Kong, and now live in the US. Asians are among the most racist in the world. The only reason it’s less overt, is because the homogenous nature of China doesn’t allow the racism to manifest itself.

Of course, I am a bit less sensitive to most, and most stereotypes tickle rather than offend me. Many of the acts common Americans consider egregious racism, like a racial epithet, aren’t afforded the same credence in other societies, particularly Chinese.

People need to get over themselves. The image is funny.

March 25, 2009 @ 8:09 am | Comment

I have a similar experience. When I lived in Hong Kong for some overseas exchange program at undergrad level, I was told I could make some money teaching English at a language center. Being a poor college student, I went to this center dreaming of making an easy buck. Several of my classmates were hired (all white) and myself an American of East Asian origins (not Chinese) was told that they could not hire me presently but would call if something came up!

As I was walking out of that center feeling slightly burned, I got into a conversation with an Indian British gal who was working at this school/center and I told her what happened. And she was like, “Well, to be fair, you Americans don’t really speak English in the first place.” I thought that was slightly amusing.

March 25, 2009 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

[...] up the next morning to a bit of a firestorm. Page views were way up, thanks to links from Danwei, The Peking Duck, Chinayouren, Bendilaowai, Africans in China, and more. What was more surprising was that the [...]

March 25, 2009 @ 10:37 pm | Pingback

[...] up the next morning to a bit of a firestorm. Page views were way up, thanks to links from Danwei, The Peking Duck, Chinayouren, Bendilaowai, Africans in China, and more. What was more surprising was that the [...]

March 26, 2009 @ 10:10 am | Pingback

Wow, some interesting discussions on racism… Let’s not kid ourselves. Racism exists everywhere. It’s human nature, albeit not everyone displays it every day. As a Chinese man living in America, I have experienced some subtle and not so subtle racism from every one, white, black or other fellow Asian or Chinese. But I do notice something interesting. Mind you. I have a very successful business. I have never been discriminated when people who know I am. Meeting business partners for lunch over the years have taught me something. If I show up early on my own at a business restaurant, I ofentimes get the cold shoulder treatment, like “Can I help you?” from the hostess instead of “Hi! How are you? How many in your party?” As a Chinese man, the most vicious and obvious display of racism that I have experienced is from some black people. I have experinced some rude and simply no services from black receiptionists at doctor’s office, airlines check-in and restaurants. Ever wondered why so many black participated in the looting and burning of Korean stores in LA about 2 decades ago?

March 26, 2009 @ 10:44 am | Comment

at Marc

Interesting. At the time of the incident involving Blacks and the Korean stores, I found myself wondering why people who should understand violence and racism the most, used violence, looted, and discriminated against others of color.

But, if I am not mistaken, and I may well be, the Koran stores were in an area where even black ownership of business was a rarity, if not actually nonexistent. In other words, the community was exceedingly poor and had a high percentage of gang activity and drugs use. The Koreans were there because no one else either cared or was foolish enough to attempt such a venture.

Though there does seems to be a Yellow and Black THING, however. I feel this incident would have occurred regardless the color of the business proprietors.

For some reason, I have it in my mind that yet another Korean incident happened in NYC. Two different incidents perhaps, or, the failing memory of an old man.

March 26, 2009 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

Anyone who goes with notions of ‘fitting in’ and ‘going local’… is likely to fail superbly. You try going to America, which everyone likes to cite for their broad-mindedness and inclusiveness (ignoring blatantly racist areas, of course – nobody really wants to go there anyway). You can speak better than the average American, but *us foreigners* will, like you foreigners in China, feel uncomfortable and not given the same service. What on earth inspires people to think it should be any different in China, especially since it has been so historically homogeneous? Honestly. Do get off your $privileged_nation high horse and feel what it’s like for the rest of us global citizens even in your countries :) Tit-for-tat not a good thing? Well, blame human nature goshdarnit. I wish you the best of luck in your anti-racial endeavours, yeah…

March 26, 2009 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

@Riace

“Bias, prejudice and stereotypes are not in and of themselves racism.”

Then what are they?

“It seems to me that any debate about racism in China must be limited to post nineteenth century – since anthropology was not introduced here until circa 1920’s. By the Japanese, I believe. So, racism is a concept introduced in China by the white man via the Japanese.”

What are you smoking? So there was never any anti-foreign sentiment in China before 1920? Really?

“Many of the incidents you relate, to me, are not racism.”

Here’s a definition for you: Treating any other human being differently because of their ethnic origin is racist. Yes, it happens everywhere. Yes, it’s human nature. That’s no excuse. The only way humanity is going to evolve is if we recognize our shortcomings and overcome.

March 27, 2009 @ 1:53 pm | Comment

@Hemulen

I’m going to one up you on your haggling story. I was involved in a traffic “incident” that ended with me having to physically defend myself. After things had settled down to mere arguing with a horde of onlookers, two foreigners saw me in the center and came to offer moral support. (And no, I don’t overlook the fact that foreigners came to the aid of another foreigner who they had never previously met…that does fit in the definition of racism I just offered.) Anyway, the police later arrived to sort things out and the onlookers started telling the police that the three of us foreigners were all beating on the driver of the car together. It was unthinkable to me that a group consensus could have been developed so rapidly. Luckily, the officer in charge was a very reasonable man who took all the “witness” statements with a grain of salt. Things didn’t go well for me, but they could have gone much worse.

March 27, 2009 @ 2:01 pm | Comment

@Marc

I do like the observation that you don’t get discriminated against by people who know you well. I agree wholeheartedly, and you may just have the answer there. Human beings need to make an effort to develop as many meaningful relationships as possible.

@ The Duck

Love the blog, I’ll definitely come back.

March 27, 2009 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

@Riace

“It seems to me that any debate about racism in China must be limited to post nineteenth century – since anthropology was not introduced here until circa 1920’s. By the Japanese, I believe. So, racism is a concept introduced in China by the white man via the Japanese.”

Quote of the year. Let’s apply the logic to something else:

It seems to me that any debate about gravity in China must be limited to post eigthteenth century – since the theory of gravity was not introduced here until circa 1840s. By the British, I believe. So, gravity is a concept introduced in China by the white man.

We can therefore conclude there was no gravity in China until the westerners turned up, given they did not have a word for it. They were floating around in the sky, which is why the westerners called them celestials. We can also safely conclude atoms and genes did not exist until their discovery and sexism never existed in the world until the twentieth century. After all, there weren’t any words for them.

The entire planet has a major problem with racism. It always has and it will for the foreseeable. It is due to humanity’s innate tribalism and fear of the other, caused by ignorance. To argue that some countries are purer than others is ridiculous. If anyone is interested in the history of racism in China, a good starting point is Frank Dikotter’s excellent book on the subject which can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/d83kw2

Other examples of pre-nineteenth century Chinese racism can be found in Jonathan Spence’s The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. Perhaps some reading on the subject before airily dismissing others’ views might be in order.

March 27, 2009 @ 4:46 pm | Comment

To argue that some countries are purer than others is ridiculous.

To argue that countries do not have varying degrees of racial/religious hatred is ridiculous. Even if everyone were exactly the same, just by random chance one group would eventually break off from another and they could possibly start hating each other.

For whatever reason, blacks, whites, and all races are much safer in China than in America. Either from racial hate crimes or from random murder.

That can’t be denied. If you want to equate rudeness and ignorance with murder and rape then I guess I can’t argue with you.

A quote from your linked material:

“The phenotype of most minorities was not significantly at variance with that of most Han Chinese”

This is pure ignorance. There is a huge difference between Northern Han and Kradai/Austronesian/Austroasiatic speakers. There is a huge variation within the “Han Chinese” and this can be attested to by genetic studies. There are noticeable differences between Northern Han and Manchu, and Manchu and Mongol, and within the Mongols themselves.

I will go ahead and dismiss the rest of it as pure pseudo-science, a racialized, biased view of China from a white Western perspective not worth reading.

March 31, 2009 @ 8:32 am | Comment

Racism….
What it is , why it exists.

Contrary to what many people think, racism is not only identifying someone by a derogatory term. It is the very perception a person has that they can treat another with contempt or in a condescending manner, period.

Racism is kept alive today, simply because it is spread around the dinner table, and because it is perpetuated thought racial stereotypes in the media and elsewhere. And the repetitive use of racial stereotypes by so-called comedians, adverts and in the workplace, reinforces the perception that all people from a particular racial group behave or speak in a certain way.

As a result, the value and appreciation of various ethnicities, is discounted. And those that make these insults never realise the hurt and damage their remarks can cause. Very often people who are victims of such racist acts, lack the courage to confront their abusers, so they habour the hurt. This is very common in the work place.

It is also a fact that most racist incidents today are pertuated by whites in all countries.

April 4, 2009 @ 6:40 am | Comment

I’m the type of person who prefers whites & non-whites who’re relatively decent & easy to connect with over whites & non-whites who are the opposite in either or both ways. If you’re interested in knowing about by race or ethnicity I’m brown ( in fact I’m a brown Canadian)and with reference to racism in America I can say most Americans I’ve had civil encounters with are whites.In fact I’ve been in situations where when it was my first Halloween in the U.S.,by coincidence,I handed out a Hot Wheel product to a white American kid .Additionally by coicidence when I randomnly handed out die cast vehicles to this this time some Canadian trick or treaters they too were caucassians.Additionally when I attended my nephew’s birthday in U.S.A. most of his guests were white kids where I placed Canadian treats in their loot bags that I was eager to introduce them to and finally & don’t worry I’ve done special things for some minorities.

April 17, 2009 @ 8:28 am | Comment

In 1986 I’d visited Shanghai. My guide took me to TongJi University for a visit. As we walked passed the sports field, there were some African students playing football. My guide then informed me that there had been a brawl on campus between Chinese and African students a few months prior. My guide explained to me that two female Chinese students were “raped” in the foreign students dormitory. My guide believed that the foreign students involved were from royal families in Africa and they flashed their wealth around on campus and had invited a couple of female Chinese students up to their dorm. Back then it was forbidden to mingle with foreigners but because the African students to a certain extend had diplomatic immunities they did what ever they wanted and were not officially punished. The chinese students, mostly males, were incensed and wanted to teach the African students a lesson, fisticuffs on the football field.

April 21, 2009 @ 4:39 pm | Comment

Most Asian don’t have the concept of race or racism. There is pride. Chinese people are not racist, the only racist Asian I know are people were subjected to racism by whites.

They are most prejudice or ignorant, because they never interact with non-Asian people. They don’t have a feel of malice or superiority or arrogance or condescension like white people do.

White people are true racist since they was raise on white supremacism and superiority. So they have malice, arrogance, and condesceion when dealing with a non-white people.

A Chinese wouldn’t mine hanging out with a black person after they get to know them. A white person don’t want to hang out with black people period, because they think black are dirty and criminals, etcss.

For a country of 1.3 billion people, China and many Asian country are pretty tolerant.

May 15, 2009 @ 8:33 am | Comment

Yeah, white folk are the cause of all racism, only the other week I was shouting “Ni Hao” at every Chinese person I saw, picking fights with them in clubs because of their skin colour and going on about how dirty and violent everyone who isn’t white is.

Or maybe not.

May 15, 2009 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

[...] discussion on race in China, an old one on China blogs which has been done to death here, here, here, here, and here. However, this translation by Roland Soong of a story on today’s protests in [...]

July 16, 2009 @ 7:09 am | Pingback

I’ve lived in Europe, East Asia, and North America for a couple of years each and experienced first hand racism both as a target and hearing my friends/family make racist comments. Racism unfortunately exists in both China and the West. Anyone who says otherwise is simply deluding themselves.

August 1, 2009 @ 8:11 am | Comment

American Racism Is Alive & Well In The U.S.A.

The majority of Americans are raising a stink & scare,
Not about who should or who shouldn’t get health care,
Everyone agrees coverage for many is in a state of lack,
But don’t let it succeed since President Obama is Black.

Cash for clunkers is fine many need dependable rides,
Concerning health care, who cares about their lives?
Town hall meetings 99% complaining are Caucasian,
Is it me or the Temptations, “Just My Imagination?”

Once again, racism has reared its ever-present head,
There is no amount of aspirin or prayers before bed,
Will cause me to wake up and forget what was said,
Whites saying on the tube, “I wish Obama was dead.”

Bush lied about WMD’s and the Iraq Taliban threat,
Just heard about a noose around Tiger Wood’s neck,
Oh before anyone reading gets out of joint, not so fast,
Dickey’s cronies @ Haliburton make billions in cash.

Tuesday there will be a message 12 noon, 09/08/2010,
Strike up the band why don’t you, let the racism begin,
Barack plans to speak to students so he’s under attack,
Whites are pulling kids from school this guy is Black.

North Ridgeville, North Royalton, Strongsville, Parma,
“The President of The United States” has bad karma?
It means the concept of performance, action or deed,
Telling kids work hard, stay in school, there’s no need?

The Republicans told members keep kids out of school,
A Harvard educated man can’t express the golden rule?
Proverbs 13:20, what happens when walking with a fool?
A Black elected leader telling white kids it “ain’t” cool.

Same reason corporal punishment is no longer allowed,
Whites simply didn’t want Blacks spanking their child,
A concerned message from the leader of the free world,
Too bad many feel it’s just not for White boys and girls.

Don’t get me wrong, not a majority but it sure seems like,
Just like there is an energy of Blacks who despise Whites,
Hispanics don’t care either way they just want good jobs,
Doesn’t matter if it’s working with Leroy or Billy Joe Bob.

Many in America still feel this kind of response is all right,
Even after confessing salvation in the name of Jesus Christ,
What gives them the right on the basis of race to condemn?
Oh yeah! Past history like they did to the American Indian.

by Luke Easter

September 7, 2009 @ 3:36 am | Comment

Interestingly, I am getting the feeling that President Obama is more lovingly embraced in China, than in America, it seems. And he is more loved than any other White Presidents America has sent to China this far.

November 18, 2009 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

Could you imagine an American singer songwriter having a hit with a song that goes: “Blue eyes, blond hair, white skin, we are forever the heirs of the eagle …” Thats’s how Hou Dejian sings about Chinese in Heirs of the Dragon.
黑眼睛黑頭發黃皮膚,永永遠遠是龍的傳人

January 28, 2010 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

God bless us all, and China!

February 2, 2010 @ 9:53 am | Comment

“Most Asian don’t have the concept of race or racism. There is pride. Chinese people are not racist, the only racist Asian I know are people were subjected to racism by whites.”

Pride? Pfft. Yea I see the pride when the Chinese are pissing/defacating on the street and throwing garbage on the ground. You must be new here.
Its fear, bitterness and resentment.

A few months back I took a flight from Shanghai to Taiwan. Around the Exit Gate, without saying a word, I must have pissed some Chinese guy off (probably because I was a) in line and b) white), because he stupidly (in Mandarin) told me to “go back to my own country” as we were boarding the plane. To rub it in his face, I starting chatting up his friend (who was walking a few paces behind him) in Mandarin just loud enough so that he could hear. “Do you know this guy? He’s cool man, I really like this guy, etc etc” His reaction was hilarious.

Yeah, I get it, its a developing country. But wake the F up people. If a “white devil” is passing though China (or in my case, living in Shanghai full time) you can assume we speak the language (I’ve been learning for about 10 years). If a 3 year old can speak it, a 28 year old white devil can surely pick it up. It’s not that hard. (Memorizing 5000 characters on the other hand… sigh)

If you want to mumble some pathetic taunts, Mandarin is off limits, pick another dialect (don’t worry, I’m not wasting my time to learn Shanghainese), or expect a violent ‘reply.’

February 3, 2010 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

“Interestingly, I am getting the feeling that President Obama is more lovingly embraced in China, than in America, it seems. And he is more loved than any other White Presidents America has sent to China this far.”

That’s because even in a developing country, George Bush was considered ‘special’ and his access to Nuclear weapons ‘terrifying’. Obama is an inspirational figure because he’s a young good looking guy who is smart as hell. Somehow I don’t think Sarah Palin would have had the same following over here.

February 3, 2010 @ 2:04 pm | Comment

Michael,

Maybe the problem with people like you with your attitude is why Chinese people call white people ‘gweilos.’

February 4, 2010 @ 2:39 am | Comment

I haven’t found any problems being white in China. My kids are fairly popular with the ladies – “Ooooh, bigs eyes! So beautiful!”
But, talking to my wife, seems that if I had been Indian or black, things would have been a bit different. As for comments – don’t speak Mandarin, don’t speak Shanghai, don’t speak Nantong or any other Jiangsu language so don’t know what comments I get :-) Ignorance is bliss!

“Interestingly, I am getting the feeling that President Obama is more lovingly embraced in China, than in America, it seems. And he is more loved than any other White Presidents America has sent to China this far.”
I’ll bet this view has radically changed, after the arms to Taiwan and the planned talks with the Dalai Lama. CCP shouldn’t have snubbed him ;-)

February 4, 2010 @ 4:44 am | Comment

“Most Asian don’t have the concept of race or racism. There is pride. Chinese people are not racist, the only racist Asian I know are people were subjected to racism by whites.”

If by racism you mean an explicit ideology which considers some races more human than others, this is not unknown in China but it is rare.

If you mean simple bigotry, where people with dark skin are expected to be uneducated, un-cultured, “low quality”, and generally not the sort of people you want to mix with, I see it all the time over here. I guess the best thing you can say is that Chinese people aren’t hypocrites about it.

February 4, 2010 @ 5:47 am | Comment

http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/chinas-changing-views-on-race/?scp=1-b&sq=racism%2C+china&st=nyt
Comments are interesting
Also this
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/world/asia/02race.html?_r=1&scp=8&sq=Asian%2C+mixed+marriage&st=nyt
I don’t think there’s a heap of difference between Korean attitudes and Chinese

February 4, 2010 @ 6:05 am | Comment

[...] discussion on race in China, an old one on China blogs which has been done to death here, here, here, here, and here. However, this translation by Roland Soong of a story on today’s protests in [...]

March 2, 2010 @ 10:16 pm | Pingback

To all the people complaining of racism in China, I just have to say…

maybe what you’re experiencing is not so much racism…as it is a lack of privilege. In the case of Caucasians, a group of people who are USED to being on the very top of the racial hierarchy, getting the best service is an expectation rather than a possibility. Minorities in the west realize that sometimes, we will not be treated as well as whites, or that sometimes people may provide us with poor or no service at all, and that we have to deal with a lot of microaggressions. I know that when I walk into a restaurant with my white friends, they may get better services than I do. White people never realize that because they’ve NEVER experienced what it’s like to be on the “outside”. A lot of whites do not understand modern racism because it is subtle and usually conveyed in murky ways so that the victims of the racist act will be hesitant to label the act as racist. And unless you experience what it’s like to NOT be a part of the “norm”, you simply won’t understand the experience.

For the whites who are now in china, they are now all of a sudden, not the “norm”. The chinese are the norm in China and they are the highest on the racial hierarchy. It doesn’t help that the westeners tend to have a HUGE dose of western ignorance, because lets face it, westerners like to go to other countries without ever learning about the culture and rarely even the language. The fact that people aren’t bending over backwards to serve you isn’t racism, But a direct result of you not being a chinese citizen and more likely than not, an ignorant foreigner.

I’ve seen white foreigners in asian countries before and in my experience, the asian people of these countries always try their best to accommodate the westerners even when they’re being belligerent assholes. I’ve even seen/heard westerns complain loudly about how these asian people can’t speak english (why shoudl they? this is THEIR country. YOU should be speaking THEIR language). These westerners also complain that the food is weird or that these asians act in mystifying ways. Most of the complaints of racism come from westerners who simply can’t deal with what it means to be in another country as a minority. It OFFENDS them that they’re not treated in the manner white people are treated in the west. They are ALSO offended that the power structure in asia places asians above the whites. Whites tend to expect to be on the very top of the racial hierarchy wherever they go, which is why they’ll go to all sorts of countries and then criticize the natives for all their “backwards” ways. They’ll go to africa and hang out with the white expats while regarding the black natives with disdain. They’ll go to asia and reappropriate all the best aspects of asian culture without actually giving respect to asian people. Most asians in asia are not racist, homogenous society or not. You’re just mad you’re not giving “preference”.

April 5, 2010 @ 3:45 pm | Comment

Btw, “michael” is EXACTLY the kind of guy I’ve described in my previous post. The kind of asshole who thinks he’s better than the natives. Normally I don’t swear in my comments but since he’s the one who started with the bad language, I’ll do so too.

And by the way, the “go back to your country” line is a strictly western phenomenon. I’ve visited all sorts of asian countries and the “go back to your country” insult isn’t their’s. Just like how the english insult of “asshole” doesn’t exist in mandarin. You can SAY the word of course but it’s not a common slur, just like americans don’t use the word “mate” nor do we call cigarettes “fags”.

I think you’re a moron and you’re probably just making things up.

April 5, 2010 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

And by the way, in asia, the concept of race is different than that of the west. In the west, there are very firm beliefs about how each race is like. In the east, not so much because unlike western media, asian media aren’t plagued with the news about how “blacks are robbing and killing” everyone. And when you talk about China, the fluid concept of race is even more prominent. Americans (i only speak about americans because I am one) like to believe that american culture=qhite culture. And when we teach american history, it is mostly “white american history”. People don’t even realize asian americans have been in america a lot longer than just recent immigrants because all non-white narratives are excluded (of course schools DO make the obligatory comment about slavery and native americans).

Whereas China has always had multiple ethnic groups and after 5000+ years of history, they’ve all pretty much intermarried and now consider themselves to be of the Han ethnicity. But those of you who actually understand chinese history will know that Chinese history have ALWAYS included numerous ethnicities and many famous chinese people of history were not even “han” chinese. China was comfortable with interracial relationships long before america was even created. And by the time america created anti-miscegenation laws, China was already a melting pot.

April 5, 2010 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

And if China is such a racist place, why are Black americans, who historically have been discriminated against in the west, moving to China and marrying Chinese women?

Isn’t barack obama’s half brother one of them? Obviously China is more accomodating to him than the west is (in his opinion at least).

April 5, 2010 @ 3:56 pm | Comment

Oh, chinese people ARE classist though. Not so much racist. I don’t know if it’s exactly better to be classist. Then again, westerners are classist too. We all discriminate against the “white trash” except white people never associate themselves with the term “white trash”.

April 5, 2010 @ 3:58 pm | Comment

And every white expat in China who complain about being passed over, think about the countless qualified asian-americans who actually live in america FOR GOOD who are passed over in favor of whites.

Studies have shown that when two people of equal education and experience are presented to a white hirer, they will not have a 50/50 chance in getting hired. USUALLY, the hirer, if white, will unconsciously prefer the white applicant. It’s about having white privilege in america. maybe now it’s not so weird that it seems like chinese people have some sort of privilege over whites in china.

April 5, 2010 @ 4:18 pm | Comment

I think sga has made a very good point (even though he is slightly biased) about how Americans like to enter other countries without learning about foreign systems.

I also want to point out: I believe that there is certain racism among chinese people who live in America, not the native Chinese. I observed this in New York City. Basically, most Chinese families are reclusive and introverted while African Americans and Spanish people are extroverted. Thus, chinese families find Africans and Spanish people to be belligerent and inproper and tell their kids to avoid them. Many American Chinese families in nyc would also say that crimes are mostly committed by African Americans and to watch that you aren’t being followed in black communities (NYC has Asian parts, black parts, Jewish parts, etc.). However, this cannot be observed in mainland China where the population is extremely homogeneous.

@Michael, I don’t really understand your “fear, bitterness, and resentment” of Chinese people. This senario that you described might be true but it might not be indicative of how some Chinese people treat foreigners. Many Chinese people are simply rude and obnoxious, even to other Chinese people. I was a volunteer in the Shanghai world expo and many natives would be extremely rude (I am purely Chinese). On the other hand, the foreigners were pretty mild and rather polite.

July 4, 2010 @ 1:37 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.