To understand China you need to understand whiteness, yet it’s missing from the conversation

0
0
Our target is to take our local communities to the worldwide audience. Submit your story and we will help you to build your audience. Thank you Roots News Team

It is not possible to understand China without understanding race and racism. Specifically, without understanding whiteness.

Yet far too often the conversation around the rise of this new superpower is in predominantly geo-political terms, about authoritarianism versus democracy, about human rights — or whether we will go to war.

But race sits at the heart of it all.

We were reminded this week when China described the AUKUS agreement — between Australia, the UK and the US – as a race-based military bloc of white countries.

China’s Ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, says that’s how it appears to people in other countries. What he means are non-white countries.

A man wearing a suit and tie.
China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, characterised the AUKUS agreement as a race-based military bloc of white countries.(ABC New: Ian Cutmore)

A history of humiliation 

The Chinese Communist Party has a deep racial consciousness. It is there in the reminder to its people never to forget the hundred years of humiliation at the hands of foreign powers — of white powers.

Yes, that humiliation was at the hands of the Japanese, too, but the Japanese themselves cannot be separated from the project of whiteness.

In his book, Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking, scholar Michael Keevak traces how the Chinese stopped being white.

He says in early interaction between Europeans and Asians, the Chinese were actually described as white.

Members of the Chinese Communist Party stand in a hall with red carpet.
A deep racial consciousness runs through the Chinese Communist Party. (AP: Ng Han Guan)

This was before racialised thinking was popularised in the 18th century.

It was then that scientists started to divide the world up into groupings of colour. Colour denoted civilisation. At the top were white Europeans, at the bottom black people and all others, graded on a sliding scale.

Keevak says Asians — including the Chinese and Japanese — began to “darken”.

They lost their whiteness, he says, “when it became clear they would remain unwilling to participate in European systems of trade, religion and international relations”.

The fall of the Qing Empire in the 19th century hastened a racial reckoning for the Chinese.

This was a dark night of the soul; it would tip China into a century of upheaval, revolution, and violence on an industrial scale.

And it also brought China face-to-face with white power. The Qing Empire was humbled by Britain, a tiny island that now occupied Chinese territory.



Source by [author_name]

Our target is to take our local communities to the worldwide audience. Submit your story and we will help you to build your audience. Thank you Roots News Team

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

fifteen − eleven =