Racism in China (simplified Chinese: 种族主义; traditional Chinese: 種族主義; pinyin: zhòngzú zhǔyì) arises from Chinese history, nationalism, sinicization, and other factors. Racism in the People's Republic of China has been documented in numerous situations. Ethnic tensions have led to numerous incidents in the country such as the Xinjiang conflict, the ongoing internment and state persecution of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, the 2010 Tibetan language protest (a protest against the sinicization of Tibet), the 2020 Inner Mongolia protests (a protest against the sinicization of Inner Mongolia), discrimination against Africans in particular and discrimination against Black people in general.

Demographic background

Main article: Demographics of China

Further information: Institutional racism in China and List of ethnic groups in China

China is a largely homogeneous society; over 90% of its population is Han Chinese.[1]

History

Conflict with Uyghurs

Main article: Xinjiang conflict

In the early 20th century, Uyghurs would reportedly not enter Hui mosques, and Hui and Han households were built together in a town; Uyghurs would live farther away.[2][3] Uyghurs have been known to view Hui Muslims from other provinces of China as hostile and threatening.[4][5][6] Mixed Han and Uyghur children are known as erzhuanzi (二转子); there are Uyghurs who call them piryotki,[5][7] and shun them.[8] The Sibe minority tend to also hold negative stereotypes of Uyghurs and identify with the Han.[9]

A book by Guo Rongxing from Chandos Publishing about the unrest in Xinjiang stated that the 1990 Barin uprising occurred after 250 forced abortions were imposed upon local Uyghur women by the Chinese government.[10]

The Chinese government and individual Han Chinese citizens have been accused of discrimination against and ethnic hatred towards the Uyghur minority.[11][12][13] This was a reported cause of the July 2009 Ürümqi riots, which occurred largely along racial lines. Several Western media sources called them "race riots".[14][15][16] According to The Atlantic in 2009, there was an unofficial Chinese policy of denying passports to Uyghurs until they reached retirement age, especially if they intended to leave the country for the pilgrimage to Mecca.[11] A 2009 paper from the National University of Singapore reported that China's policy of affirmative action had actually worsened the rift between the Han and Uyghurs, but also noted that both ethnic groups could still be friendly with each other, citing a survey where 70% of Uyghur respondents had Han friends while 82% of Han had Uyghur friends.[17] The CCP has actively pursued the policy of sinicizing religion. This policy seeks to mold all religions to align with the officially atheist CCP doctrines and the prevailing customs of the majority Han-Chinese society.[18]

It was observed in 2013 that at least in the workplace, Uyghur-Han relations seemed relatively friendly.[19] Shortly after the 2014 Kunming attack, some commentators on Weibo, including Muslim-Chinese celebrity Medina Memet, urged others not to equate Uyghurs with terrorism.[20]

According to academic David Tobin, since 2012, "Chinese education about Uyghurs tends to frame Uyghur identities as racialised, culturally external existential threats to be defeated by state violence or teaching them to be Chinese."[21]

According to the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute's founder S. Fredrick Starr, tensions between Hui and Uyghurs arose because the Qing and Republican Chinese authorities both used Hui troops and officials to dominate the Uyghurs and suppress Uyghur revolts.[22] The massacre of Uyghurs by Ma Zhongying's Hui troops in the Battle of Kashgar caused unease as more Hui moved into the region from other parts of China.[23] Per Starr, the Uyghur population grew by 1.7 percent in Xinjiang between 1940 and 1982, and the Hui population increased by 4.4 percent, with the population-growth disparity serving to increase interethnic tensions.

People's Republic of China

Further information: Human rights in China § Ethnic minorities

Racist incidents continue to occur in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and they have become a contentious topic because Chinese governmental sources either deny or downplay its existence. Scholars have noted that the Chinese state's propaganda largely portrays racism as a Western phenomenon, which has contributed to a lack of acknowledgment of the existence of racism in Chinese society.[24][25][26][27] In August 2018, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reported that PRC law does not properly define "racial discrimination" and it also lacks an anti-racial discrimination law which should be in line with the Paris Principles.[28]

Since the mid-1990s, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has utilized Peking Man as an instrument of its racial nationalist discourse.[29][30]

In November 2012, in contradiction of the Chinese Communist Party's rhetoric about equality among China's 56 recognized ethnic groups, CCP general secretary Xi Jinping released his model of the Chinese Dream, which has been criticized by scholars and media personalities because they believe that it is Han-centric.[26]

In May 2012, the Chinese government launched A 100-day crackdown on illegal foreigners in Beijing, due to Beijing residents wary of foreign nationals due to recent crimes.[31][32] China Central Television (CCTV) host Yang Rui said, controversially, that "foreign trash" should be cleaned out of the capital.[31] A 2016 Gallup International poll had roughly 30% of Chinese respondents and 53% of Hong Kong respondents agreeing that some races were superior to others.[33][34]

Anti-Chinese sentiment

Among Chinese dissidents and critics of the Chinese government, it's popular to express internalized racist sentiments which are based on anti-Chinese sentiment, such as glorifying Japanese war crimes which were committed during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II,[35] promoting the usage of pejorative slurs (such as shina or locust),[36][37][38][39] or displaying hatred towards the Chinese language, people, and culture.[40]

In Hong Kong

See also: Hong Kong–Mainland China conflict and Human rights in Hong Kong

Hong Kong marches on 1 July, 2014. The sign reads, "We stand united against China".

Although Hong Kong's sovereignty was returned to China in 1997, only a small minority of its inhabitants consider themselves to be exclusively Chinese. According to a 2014 survey from the University of Hong Kong, 42.3% of respondents identified themselves as "Hong Kong citizens", versus only 17.8% who identified themselves as "Chinese citizens", and 39.3% gave themselves a mixed identity (a Hong Kong Chinese or a Hong Konger who was living in China).[41] By 2019, almost no Hong Kong youth identified as Chinese.[42]

The number of mainland Chinese who visit the region has surged since the handover (it reached 28 million in 2011) and many locals believe that it is the cause of their housing and job difficulties. In addition to resentment which is caused by political oppression, negative perceptions have grown through the circulation of online posts which contain descriptions of mainlander misbehaviour,[43] as well as discriminatory discourse in major Hong Kong newspapers.[44][45] In 2013, polls from the University of Hong Kong suggested that 32 to 35.6 per cent of locals had "negative" feelings for mainland Chinese people.[46] However, a 2019 survey of Hong Kong residents has suggested that there are also some who attribute positive stereotypes to visitors from the mainland.[47]

In 2012, a group of Hong Kong residents published a newspaper advertisement which depicted mainland visitors and immigrants as locusts, an ethnic slur targeting mainland Chinese people.[48] In February 2014, about 100 Hong Kongers harassed mainland tourists and shoppers during what they styled an "anti-locust" protest in Kowloon. In response, the Equal Opportunities Commission of Hong Kong proposed an extension of the territory's race-hate laws to cover mainlanders.[49] Strong anti-mainland xenophobia has also been documented amidst the 2019 protests,[50] with reported instances of protesters attacking Mandarin-speakers and mainland-linked businesses.[51][52][53]

During protest against mainlanders and parallel traders, local demonstrators chanted the pejorative term Cheena.[54] In October 2015, an HKGolden netizen remade the South Korean song "Gangnam Style", with lyrics calling mainland Chinese "locusts" and "Cheena people", titled "Disgusting Cheena Style" (Chinese: 核突支那Style).[55]

Inside Hong Kong university campuses, mainland Chinese students are often referred to as "Cheena dogs" and "yellow thugs" by local students.[35][56] On 18 September 2019, the 88th anniversary of the Japanese invasion of northeast China, a celebration poster was put up on the Democracy Wall of the University of Hong Kong, glorifying the Japanese invasion while advocating for democracy in Hong Kong.[35] Hong Kong journalist Audrey Li noted the xenophobic undertone of the widespread right-wing nativism movement, in which the immigrant population and tourists are used as scapegoats for social inequality and institutional failure.[35][57]

In a 2015 study, mainland students in Hong Kong who initially had a more positive view of the city than of their own mainland hometowns reported that their attempts at connecting with the locals were difficult due to experiences of hostility.[58]

In Hong Kong, some people consider hate speech and discrimination toward mainland Chinese morally justified[59] by a superiority complex influenced by Hong Kong's economic and cultural prominence during the Cold War, and nostalgia toward British rule.[57] Some protesters choose to express their frustrations on ordinary mainlanders instead of the Chinese government. With rising tribalism and nationalism in Hong Kong and China, xenophobia between Hong Kongers and mainlanders is reinforced and reciprocated.[60][61] Some critics of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement argue that the prevalence of ethnic hatred and xenophobia amongst its supporters is mostly ignored by the media, which often frames the situation as simply a fight between democracy and authoritarianism.[35]

Anti-Japanese sentiment

Main articles: Anti-Japanese sentiment in China and China–Japan relations

Anti-Japanese sentiment primarily stems from Japanese war crimes which were committed during the Second Sino-Japanese War. History-textbook revisionism in Japan and the denial (or the whitewashing) of events such as the Nanjing Massacre by the Uyoku dantai has continued to inflame anti-Japanese feeling in China. Anti-Japanese sentiment has been encouraged through the CCP's Patriotic Education Campaign.[62] According to a BBC News report, anti-Japanese demonstrations received tacit approval from Chinese authorities, however, the Chinese ambassador to Japan Wang Yi said that the Chinese government does not condone such protests.[63]

Anti-Muslim sentiment

Main articles: Antireligious campaigns of the Chinese Communist Party § Muslims, Freedom of religion in China § Islam, Islam in China, Islamophobia in China, and Persecution of Muslims § Xinjiang

Recent studies contend that in contemporary China, some Han Chinese have attempted to legitimize and fuel anti-Muslim beliefs and biases by exploiting historical conflicts between the Han Chinese and Muslims, like the Northwest Hui Rebellion.[64][65] Scholars and researchers have also argued that Western Islamophobia and the "War on Terror" have contributed to the mainstreaming of anti-Muslim sentiments and practices in China.[66][67] Recent studies have shown that Chinese news media coverage of Muslims and Islam is generally negative, in which portrayals of Muslims as dangerous and prone to terrorism, or as recipients of disproportionate aid from the government was common.[68][69] Studies have also revealed that Chinese cyberspace contains much anti-Muslim rhetoric and that non-Muslim Chinese hold negative views towards Muslims and Islam.[68][70][71] Discrimination against Muslims and sinicization of mosques have been reported.[72][73][74][75]

Middle Eastern youth in China who were interviewed by the Middle East Institute in 2018 generally did not encounter discrimination. However, a Yemeni national said that he received unfavorable reactions from some Chinese when he stated that he was a Muslim, something which he managed to overcome with time, especially after he made Chinese friends.[76]

Persecution of Uyghurs in China

Main article: Persecution of Uyghurs in China

See also: History of Xinjiang § People's Republic of China (1949–present), Incorporation of Xinjiang into the People's Republic of China, Xinjiang conflict, and Xinjiang internment camps

Since 2014, the Chinese Communist Party under the leadership of the Xi Jinping Administration has pursued a policy which has led to the imprisonment of more than one million Muslims[77] (the majority of them are Uyghurs) in secretive detention camps without any legal process.[78][79] Critics of the policy have described it as the sinicization of Xinjiang and they have also called it an ethnocide or a cultural genocide,[78][80][81][82][83][84][excessive citations] and many activists, NGOs, human rights organizations, government officials, and the U.S. government have called it a genocide.[85][86][87][88][89][90][91][92][excessive citations] The Chinese government did not acknowledge the existence of these internment camps until 2018 and when it finally acknowledged their existence, it called them "vocational education and training centers" rather than internment camps.[93] In 2019, the name of these camps was officially changed to "vocational training centers". From 2018 to 2019, despite the Chinese government's claim that most of the detainees had been released, the camps tripled in size.[93] The Chinese Ambassador to the United States at the time, Cui Tiankai, stated that accusations of genocide which have been made by United States President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are "inaccurate."[94]

There are widespread reports of forced abortion, contraception, and sterilization both inside and outside the re-education camps. NPR reports that a 37-year-old pregnant woman from the Xinjiang region said that she attempted to give up her Chinese citizenship to live in Kazakhstan but was told by the Chinese government that she needed to come back to China to complete the process. She alleges that officials seized the passports of her and her two children before coercing her into receiving an abortion to prevent her brother from being detained in an internment camp.[95] Zumrat Dwut, a Uyghur woman, claimed that she was forcibly sterilized by tubal ligation during her time in a camp before her husband was able to get her out through requests to Pakistani diplomats.[96][97] The Xinjiang regional government denies that she was forcibly sterilized.[96] The Associated Press reports that there is a "widespread and systematic" practice of forcing Uyghur women to take birth control medication in the Xinjiang region,[98] and many women have stated that they have been forced to receive contraceptive implants.[99][100] The Heritage Foundation reported that officials forced Uyghur women to take unknown drugs and to drink some kind of white liquid that caused them to lose consciousness and sometimes causes them to cease menstruation altogether.[101]

Tahir Hamut, a Uyghur Muslim, worked in a labor camp during elementary school when he was a child, and he later worked in a re-education camp as an adult, performing such tasks as picking cotton, shoveling gravel, and making bricks. "Everyone is forced to do all types of hard labor or face punishment," he said. "Anyone unable to complete their duties will be beaten."[102]

Beginning in 2018, over one million Chinese government workers began forcibly living in the homes of Uyghur families to monitor and assess resistance to assimilation, and to watch for frowned-upon religious or cultural practices.[103][104] These government workers were trained to call themselves "relatives" and have been described in Chinese state media as being a key part of enhancing "ethnic unity".[103]

In March 2020, the Chinese government was found to be using the Uyghur minority for forced labor, inside sweat shops. According to a report published then by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), no fewer than around 80,000 Uyghurs were forcibly removed from the region of Xinjiang and used for forced labor in at least twenty-seven corporate factories.[105] According to the Business and Human Rights resource center, corporations such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Amazon, Apple, BMW, Fila, Gap, H&M, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Nike, North Face, Puma, PVH, Samsung, and UNIQLO have each sourced from these factories prior to the publication of the ASPI report.[106]

Discrimination against Tibetans

Main articles: Anti-Tibetan sentiment and Human rights in Tibet

See also: Annexation of Tibet by the People's Republic of China, History of Tibet (1950–present), and Sinicization of Tibet

Anti-Tibetan racism has been practiced by ethnic Han Chinese on some occasions. Ever since its inception, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the sole legal ruling political party of the PRC (including Tibet), has been distributing historical documents which portray Tibetan culture as barbaric in order to justify Chinese control of the territory of Tibet, and is widely endorsed by Han Chinese nationalists.[107] As such, many members of Chinese society have a negative view of Tibet which can be interpreted as racism.[108][109] The CCP's view is that Tibet was historically a feudal society which practiced serfdom/slavery and that this only changed due to the annexation of Tibet by the People's Republic of China.[110]: 8 

Tibetan-Muslim violence

Most Muslims in Tibet are Hui. Although hostility between Tibetans and Muslims stems from the Muslim warlord Ma Bufang's rule of Qinghai (the Ngolok rebellions (1917–49) and the Sino-Tibetan War), in 1949, the Communists ended the violence between Tibetans and Muslims. However, acts of Tibetan-Muslim violence have recently occurred. Riots between Muslims and Tibetans broke out over bones in soups and the price of balloons; Tibetans accused Muslims of being cannibals who cooked humans, attacking Muslim restaurants. Fires which were set by Tibetans burned the apartments and shops of Muslims, and Muslims stopped wearing their traditional headwear and they also began to pray in secret.[111] Chinese-speaking Hui also have problems with the Tibetan Hui (the Tibetan-speaking Kache Muslim minority).[112]

The main mosque in Lhasa was burned down by Tibetans, and Hui Muslims were assaulted by rioters in the 2008 Tibetan unrest.[113] Tibetan exiles and foreign scholars overlook sectarian violence between Tibetan Buddhists and Muslims.[114] Most Tibetans viewed the wars which were waged against Iraq and Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks positively, and anti-Muslim attitudes resulted in boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses.[115] Some Tibetan Buddhists believe that Muslims cremate their imams and use the ashes to convert Tibetans to Islam by making Tibetans inhale the ashes, although they frequently oppose proposed Muslim cemeteries.[116][need quotation to verify] Since the Chinese government supports the Hui Muslims, Tibetans attack the Hui to indicate anti-government sentiment and due to the background of hostility since Ma Bufang's rule; they resent perceived Hui economic domination.[117]

In 1936, after Sheng Shicai expelled 20,000 Kazakhs from Xinjiang and forced them to move to Qinghai, Hui troops who were led by Ma Bufang reduced the number of Kazakhs who lived in Xinjiang to 135.[118] Over 7,000 Kazakhs fled northern Xinjiang to the Tibetan Qinghai plateau region (via Gansu), causing unrest. Ma Bufang relegated the Kazakhs to pastureland in Qinghai, but the Hui, Tibetans and Kazakhs in the region continued to clash.[119]

Discrimination against Mongols

Main article: Anti-Mongolianism § China

See also: 2020 Inner Mongolia protests

The CCP has been accused of sinicizing Inner Mongolia by gradually replacing Mongolian languages with Mandarin Chinese. Critics have accused the Chinese government of committing cultural genocide because it is dismantling people's minority languages and eradicating their minority identities. The implementation of the Mandarin language policy began in Tongliao, because 1 million ethnic Mongols live there, making it the most Mongolian-populated area of Inner Mongolia. The 5 million Mongols are less than 20 percent of the population of Inner Mongolia.[120][better source needed]

The 2020 Inner Mongolia protests were caused by a curriculum reform which was imposed on ethnic schools by China's Inner Mongolian Department of Education. The two-part reform replaced Mongolian with Standard Mandarin as the medium of instruction in three particular subjects and it also replaced three regional textbooks which were printed in the Mongolian script, with the nationally-unified textbook series [zh] edited by the Ministry of Education, written in Standard Mandarin.[121][122][123] On a broader scale, the opposition to the curriculum change reflects the decline of regional language education in China [zh].[124]

On 20 September 2020, up to 5,000 ethnic Mongolians were arrested in Inner Mongolia for protesting against the enactment of policies that outlawed their nomadic pastoralist lifestyle. The director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), Enghebatu Togochog, called the CCP's policy a “cultural genocide”. Two-thirds of the 6 million ethnic Mongolians who live in Inner Mongolia practice a nomadic lifestyle that they have practiced for millennia.[125]

In October 2020, the Chinese government asked the Nantes History Museum in France not to use the words “Genghis Khan” and “Mongolia" in the exhibition project which it dedicated to the life of Genghis Khan and the history of the Mongol Empire. The Nantes History Museum conducted the exhibition project in partnership with the Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot, China. The Nantes History Museum halted the exhibition project. In response, the director of the Nantes museum, Bertrand Guillet, stated: “Tendentious elements of rewriting aimed at completely eliminating Mongolian history and culture in favor of a new national narrative”.[126]

Discrimination against Africans and people of African descent

Main article: Xenophobia and racism related to the COVID-19 pandemic § Mainland China

According to historian Yinghong Cheng, "a relationship between two racially superior/inferior human groups is either implied or demonstrated" in Chinese narratives and discourses toward Africans.[127] Reports of racial discrimination against Africans in China have been published by foreign media outlets since the 1970s.[25] Publicized incidents of discrimination against Africans have included the Nanjing anti-African protests in 1988 and a 1989 student-led protest in Beijing in response to an African dating a Chinese person.[128][129] Police action against Africans in Guangzhou has also been reported as discriminatory.[130][131][132][133] In 2009, accusations which were made by Chinese media in which it stated that the number of African undocumented immigrants who were residing in China could be as high as 200,000 people sparked racist attacks against Africans and mixed African-Chinese people on the internet.[134] In 2017, a museum exhibit in Wuhan was condemned for comparing Africans to wild animals and was pulled soon after amid outrage.[135][136] In 2018, the CCTV New Year's Gala sparked controversies because it included blackface performances in which Africans were portrayed as submissive recipients of the support which they received from China.[137][138] During the CCTV New Year's Gala in 2021, Chinese actors again put on blackface; the Chinese Foreign minister denied that the performance was racist.[139]

The number of reported acts of racism against Africans and against black foreigners of African descent[140][141] both increased in China during the COVID-19 pandemic in mainland China.[142][143][144][145][146][147] Black foreigners not from Africa have also faced racism and discrimination in China.[148][149] In response to criticism over COVID-19 related racism and discrimination against Africans in China, Chinese authorities set up a hotline for foreign nationals and laid out measures discouraging businesses and rental houses in Guangzhou from refusing people based on race or nationality.[150][151] Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian claimed that the country has "zero tolerance" for discrimination.[133] CNN stated that this claim ignored the decades' long history of racism and discrimination against Africans in China which predated the COVID-19 pandemic.[152]

According to BBC News, in 2020, many people in China have expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.[153] The George Floyd protests have reportedly sparked conversations about race that would have not otherwise occurred in the country,[154] including treatment of China's own ethnic minorities.[155] During the 2022 Shanghai lockdown, viral locally produced videos of Africans shouting scripted, positive wishes to the Chinese audience have been criticized as stereotypical and even dehumanizing.[156]

Since 2008, it has been reported that many Africans have experienced racism in Hong Kong, such as being subjected to humiliating police searches on the streets, being avoided on public transports, and being barred from bars and clubs.[157][158]

In August 2023, Human Rights Watch reported that racist content against Black people is widespread on the internet in China.[159][160][161] According to academic Kun Huang, each time a mixed-race Chinese-African person has gone viral on social media, a nationalist backlash has ensued.[162]

Discrimination against South and Southeast Asians

See also: Foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong

There have been reports of widespread discrimination in Hong Kong against South Asian minorities regarding housing, employment, public services, and checks by the police.[163] A 2001 survey found that 82% of ethnic minority respondents said they had suffered discrimination from shops, markets, and restaurants in Hong Kong.[164] A 2020 survey found that more than 90% of ethnic minority respondents experienced some form of housing discrimination.[165] Foreign domestic workers, mostly South Asians, have been at risk of forced labor, subpar accommodation, and verbal, physical, or sexual abuse by employers.[166] A 2016 survey from Justice Centre Hong Kong suggested that 17% of migrant domestic workers were engaged in forced labor, while 94.6% showed signs of exploitation.[167]

Filipina women in Hong Kong are often reportedly stereotyped as promiscuous, disrespectful, and lacking self-control.[168] Reports of racist abuse from Hong Kong fans towards their Filipino counterparts at a 2013 football game came to light, after an increased negative image of the Philippines from the 2010 Manila hostage crisis.[169] In 2014, an insurance ad, as well as a school textbook, drew some controversy for alleged racial stereotyping of Filipina maids.[170]

Some Pakistanis in 2013 reported of banks barring them from opening accounts because they came from a 'terrorist country', as well as locals next to them covering their mouths thinking they smell, finding their beard ugly, or stereotyping them as claiming welfare benefits fraudulently.[171] A 2014 survey of Pakistani and Nepalese construction workers in Hong Kong found that discrimination and harassment from local colleagues led to perceived mental stress, physical ill health, and reduced productivity.[172][173]

South Asian minorities in Hong Kong faced increased xenophobia during the COVID-19 pandemic, with media narratives blaming them as more likely to spread the virus.[174]

In 2023, a video shared by a Douyin account of the Ministry of Public Security of actors in brownface singing an Indian song received widespread criticism.[175] The video was deleted soon after.[176]

Discrimination against Jews

Antisemitism in the People's Republic of China is a mostly 21st century phenomenon and is complicated by the fact that there is little ground for antisemitism in China in historical sources.[177][178][179] In the 2020s, antisemitic conspiracy theories in China began to spread and intensify.[180][181][182] Some Chinese people believe in antisemitic tropes that Jews secretly rule the world and are business-minded.[183]

Discrimination against and biases in favor of European and European-descended people

Discrimination

Russians form one of China's 56 officially recognized ethnic groups. Many Chinese citizens of Russian descent were subject to discrimination due to their perceived differences from the majority Han Chinese population and accusations of being "Soviet spies" during the 20th century.[184]

In the late 2010s, Dong Desheng, a Chinese citizen of Russian descent who was born in Heilongjiang province, become a "social media sensation" in China after posting videos of himself and his daily life under the screen name "Uncle Petrov".[185] Some Chinese internet users were "confused" by Desheng's appearance, asking him if he wore "colored contact lenses" as they could not believe that a Chinese citizen could have naturally blue eyes. As he gained more popularity online, Desheng raised discussions about what it means to be "Chinese", as the term is largely synonymous with people of Han Chinese ethnicity and stereotypical appearance.[185] In a 2022 interview, Desheng discussed how Russians and many other minorities in China have attempted to assimilate into the majority Han Chinese culture; forgoing their ancestral culture in fear of being discriminated against.[186]

Biases

See also: White monkey

The Los Angeles Times and Vice Media alleged that a hiring preference for white English teachers over members of other groups is common in China.[187][188] In 2014, a Media Diversified article by a former English teacher in Ningbo alleged that the English teaching industry was responsible for "painting the image of ‘good English’ as a domain reserved for white people" and it also highlighted the need for a more diverse staff in the industry.[189]

International responses

In terms of international responses to China's policies towards Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Xinjiang, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region respectively, many people outside Mongolia know about the Chinese government's human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and the Tibetans, but few of them know about the plight of the Mongols. An international petition which is titled "Save Education in Inner Mongolia" has currently received less than 21,000 signatures.[190] Former U.S. President Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 into law, and the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 has passed the House of Representatives.[190] The Southern Mongolian Congress, an Inner Mongolian activist group based out of Japan, has since written an open letter asking the U.S. Congress to do the same for the Mongols.[190]

Much of the world has condemned the Chinese government's detention of Uyghurs.[191] In January 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that China is committing crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs, making the U.S. the first country to apply those terms to the Chinese government's human rights abuses.[192] While he was campaigning, the current U.S. President Joe Biden used the term genocide in reference to the Chinese government's human rights abuses, and his secretary of state, namely Antony Blinken, affirmed Pompeo's declaration.[192]

Japan did not join the U.S. and several other nations in March 2021 in imposing sanctions on China over its repression of its mostly Muslim Uyghur majority.[193] However, in April 2021, during a 90-minute phone conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi called on his Chinese counterpart to take action to improve human-rights conditions for Uyghurs.[193] This message from Tokyo came shortly before Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga traveled to the U.S. for a summit with President Biden on April 16.[193] South Korea has remained quiet about Xinjiang.[194]

Ethnic slurs

Main article: Anti-Western sentiment in China

According to historian Frank Dikötter,

A common historical response to serious threats directed towards a symbolic universe is "nihilation", or the conceptual liquidation of everything inconsistent with official doctrine. Foreigners were labelled "barbarians" or "devils", to be conceptually eliminated. The official rhetoric reduced the Westerner to a devil, a ghost, an evil and unreal goblin hovering on the border of humanity. Many texts of the first half of the nineteenth century referred to the English as "foreign devils" (yangguizi), "devil slaves" (guinu), "barbarian devils" (fangui), "island barbarians" (daoyi), "blue-eyed barbarian slaves" (biyan yinu), or "red-haired barbarians" (hongmaofan).[195]

Graphic pejoratives about race and ethnicity

Main article: Graphic pejoratives in written Chinese

Chinese orthography provides opportunities to write ethnic insults logographically; this is known as "graphic pejoratives". This originated in the fact that Chinese characters used to transcribe the names of non-Chinese peoples were graphically pejorative ethnic slurs, where the insult was not the Chinese word but the character used to write it. The sinologist Endymion Wilkinson says,

At the same time as finding characters to fit the sounds of a foreign word or name it is also possible to choose ones with a particular meaning, in the case of non-Han peoples and foreigners, usually a pejorative meaning. It was the practice, for example, to choose characters with an animal or reptile signific for southern non-Han peoples, and many northern peoples were given characters for their names with the dog or leather hides signific. In origin this practice may have derived from the animal totems or tribal emblems typical of these peoples. This is not to deny that in later Chinese history such graphic pejoratives fitted neatly with Han convictions of the superiority of their own culture as compared to the uncultivated, hence animal-like, savages and barbarians.[196]

List of ethnic slurs in Chinese

Notes

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References

Further reading