This is an interesting post in response to recent attacks on ethnic Chinese in Paris. A sample:
If French discrimination against Africans and Arabs comes from their sense of superiority as former colonizer, then their feelings towards China are much more complex. 20 years ago, Chinese were considered poor refugees coming from a third world country and treated with generosity tinged with pity. However, as China has developed and prospered, French people’s attitudes towards Chinese have changed. During my two years in France, a number of people reacted to the discovery that I was Chinese by asking whether China would overtake the US and become the world’s strongest country in twenty years. Once, my French professor singled me out in front of the entire class, telling me “you Chinese took away all of the jobs from France.” As the Chinese residents of Paris can attest, the combination of fear and resentment towards China is growing in French society.
Will antagonism toward ethnic Chinese everywhere intensify as/if China continues to grow, or is this something uniquely “French”? Here in the US I’ve heard a lot of anger directed at China for “stealing jobs,” but not at the Chinese living here. That would be hopelessly declasse.
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.