Racism in China
Does racism exist in China?
If you are reading this, you probably care about this question. This is a complicated issue, so please read carefully and leave your thoughts below or respond with your own post – but keep the language clean, otherwise your comments won’t show up.
This post is not meant to say that racism is worse in China than elsewhere – it is merely an attempt to describe the racism that does exist in China.
Racism Against Black People in China
Racism against black people may be the strongest form of racism in China.
Many families in China would be horrified if their son or daughter married a black person. Some would even disown them outright.
It can be difficult getting a job teaching English in China if you are black. This is because of the perception of many people in China that only white people are ‘true Americans’ or ‘true English’ people.
Sadly, it’s often easier to get a job teaching English in China as a white person from a country where English is not a native language than as a black person from a country where English is the only native language.
Many people in China think most black people play basketball and are violent. If you are black, many people from China will perceive you as African. If you are not, you will have to repeatedly explain that you are from another country.
The most common slur against black people in Chinese seems worse than that used for white people – “black ghost” vs. “old ghost”. Many people in China also assume that if you are black, you have very little money.
Racism against blacks in China is also strongly linked to the class divisions and racism that exists within Chinese society. This is not a justification for racism against blacks in China, but for thousands of years Chinese people of lighter skin looked down upon those of darker skin, who often could not afford to be anything other than a peasant farmer.
Racism Against Other Races in China
Though racism in China is strongest against black people, there is a general relationship that determines how foreigners are seen by many people in China: The darker your skin, the more racism you will experience.
No matter where you grew up, if you are not white it will be tougher to get a job teaching English in China.
Racism against Japanese People in China
Leading up to, during, and following World War II, Japan committed many atrocious acts in China and much of the Pacific Rim (with Korea also suffering greatly). This is something that should be redressed by Japan, and not ignored.
However, two wrongs do not make a right – and racism against Japanese people in China is wrong.
Some children in China are taught hate songs against Japanese people in elementary school – and history books in China that deal with Japan focus almost exclusively on the terrible things Japan did around World War II, ignoring much of Japan’s recent history.
The fact that Japan is now a mostly pacifist country is not part of the general awareness of a person who grows up in China. Instead, the popular conception of Japan in today’s China casts Japan as a huge and dangerous threat.
There also seems to be more slurs against Japanese people than against any other group of people.
Subtle Discrimination in China – Starring, Hello, Talking, and More
Subtle discrimination in China is prevalent. Whether it be the obnoxious ‘hello!’ that gets shouted at your back, the constant staring, or the tendency for many people in China to immediately begin talking about foreigners or stories having to do with foreigners upon seeing them, subtle discrimination or at least ignorance is widespread in China.
Racism Against Minorities Within China
Racism doesn’t only extend to foreigners within China – it also extends to its own people. People from Tibet and virtually all Chinese ‘minorities’ are seen as backwards and in need of a helping hand to enter the modern world.
Those from Xinjiang province are often looked down upon as thieves – children are especially vilified, since they are all looked at as thieves. And Xinjiang people are often harrassed by the cops.
‘Classism’ Against Chinese People
You don’t have to be of a different race to be discriminated against in China. People in China often treat those they perceive as belonging to a lower class quite poorly.
Racism Doesn’t Exist in China!
If you ask a person in China whether racism exists, you may well be told that it does not exist, and that they respect people of all countries and colors. But dig a little deeper, ask questions such as ‘what do you think of black people’ or ‘what do you think of Japanese people’, and the answers that come back are often racist.
How the average Person in China Perceives Racism
Chinese people who believe there is racism in China often see it as a racism-against-blacks-only kind of phenomenon. It is clear that racism in China is strongest toward black people, however to believe that this is the only form of racism in China is almost as silly as believing that there is no racism at all.
What do you think about Racism in China?
Help out in the discussion and leave your thoughts below.