Douglas Todd: China’s thrashing of ‘racist’ West disguises its own sins

Of note:

A UBC professor recently told me that when his family members flew back to work in China after the Christmas holidays they had to get a PCR test to prove to border officials that they did not have COVID.

He was taken aback, because he follows multiple Canadian and international media sources. The reports he had seen had tended to sympathize with Chinese officials who claimed Western nations that instituted test requirements for incoming Chinese citizens were “discriminating”.

The professor hadn’t realized Communist Party officials were simply displaying chutzpah, if not hypocrisy. It was not adequately reported that China, which has experienced an outbreak of COVID after lifting restrictions recently, demands anyone entering the country of 1.4 billion people provide a negative COVID test taken 48 hours before arrival.

Much media coverage had either totally failed to report China’s test requirement, or hardly noted it. Instead, many journalists behaved as if China had an important moral complaint: Western politicians were displaying anti-Chinese prejudice.

It’s a small example of a phenomenon common in the West. Many Canadian politicians, media outlets and activists often fall for China’s strategy of putting the West on the defensive with accusations of anti-Chinese racism. Among other things, it covers up China’s own disturbing reality.

While polls suggest about three in 10 Chinese-Canadians experienced insults during the first year of the pandemic (largely because of reports that the coronavirus began in Wuhan), there are countless examples of Canadians going along with China’s political tactic of amplifying and exaggerating incidents in the West, to avoid criticism of themselves.

One example is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Repeating a theme, Trudeau tried to shut down Opposition complaints about how he covered up Ottawa’s engagement with China’s military at an infectious-disease laboratory in Winnipeg, where two scientists were arrested. Trudeau claimed Conservatives feared Asians, accusing party supporters of “intolerance toward Canadians of diverse origins.”

Liberal cabinet minister Patty Hajdu and Sen. Yuen Pau Woo also stand out as Beijing sycophants — for the way they have repeatedly charged Canadians who want to know more about the origins of COVID, and China’s infiltration into Canadian politics, of resorting to nasty “witchhunts” and “conspiracy theories” against people of Chinese background.

In B.C., the list of examples is long. It includes former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu (Richmond-Steveston East), who lost re-election after a torrent of abusive claims of being anti-Chinese after calling for a foreign-influence registry; Richmond lawyer Hong Guo, who has advised China’s state bodies, charging the B.C. Law Society with being anti-Chinese for disciplining her; B.C. scholars enduring the racist label for researching foreign investment in Vancouver housing; Chinese-language media branding former Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart a divisive ideologue for saying Canada’s spy agency is monitoring foreign political intrusion; and scores of Chinese-Canadian advocates for democracy in Hong Kong and Tibet routinely being cited for hating people from China.

China’s authoritarian leaders especially pull out the race card to crush people who point to the incarceration, mass surveillance and draconian clampdown on China’s 10 million Muslim Uyghurs.

The Chinese state-controlled Global Times has tried to stop Canadian criticism of the treatment of Uyghurs by pointing fingers at this country’s residential school system for Indigenous children.

This is not to overlook how accusations of anti-China prejudice are among the milder things thrown at Chinese-Canadians and others who fight for the rights of Uyghurs, Tibetans or Falun Gong members. China also intimidates through threats to health and livelihoods, including of family members in the motherland.

If anyone should doubt that race-baiting is a concerted strategy of China’s (as it is in Russia), check out last year’s statement from China’s embassy in the U.S. in response to the Democrat’s outlining their position on China. In a lengthy diatribe, the embassy accused Americans of white supremacy, flagrant hatred toward Asian-Americans, modern-day slavery, torturing immigrants, bullying and despising Muslims, forced labour, and slaughtering Indigenous people.

Bill Chu, a Vancouver anti-racism advocate, worries many in the West are being fooled by the propaganda spread in Chinese-language media and through pro-Beijing organizations that anti-Chinese hatred is widespread.

“A favourite PRC tactic is to use the terms ‘China,’ ‘Chinese’ and ‘Chinese Communist Party’ interchangeably. The PRC has mixed them all up so often and for so long that criticism of the CCP is now interpreted by China as a criticism of the people, and thus a racist act. The purpose of labelling such criticism as racism is to silence Western critics and politicians,” said Chu, who has been honoured for his work in Indigenous reconciliation.

“Canadians are so used to political pluralism that many assume Chinese citizens in the People’s Republic of China are enjoying the same,” Chu said. But while critics of the West have freedom of expression, the one-party dictatorship practices draconian censorship, lacks the West’s ethnic diversity, and allows almost no permanent immigration.

China’s record is shocking on racism, even while the Communist Party’s goal is to portray it as largely a Western phenomenon. In addition to brutal treatment of Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists, many reports have monitored abuse of Black people. In largely homogeneous China, where citizens are 90 per cent of Han ethnicity, Filipinos also complain of brazen discrimination.

While repressive China denies its own racist reality, Chu reminds North Americans to go in the opposite direction: “To be fair and acknowledge mistakes by the West.”

How are Chinese-Canadians responding? It’s tricky to capture the views of the 1.7 million people of Chinese origin in Canada, of which 831,000 were born in China, 487,000 in Canada, 228,000 in Hong Kong, and 72,000 in Taiwan.

An Angus Reid Institute poll of Canadians during the pandemic suggested about one-third of residents born in China “feel like an outsider in Canada,” a higher rate than for other ethnic Chinese.

However, a hefty 88 per cent of all Chinese-Canadians also said “I love Canada and what it stands for.” That was virtually the same proportion who agreed, “I feel a strong sense of belonging to Canada.” StatsCan reports many are doing well in education and careers.

Combining such polling results with recent reports about how Chinese nationals’ interest in emigrating to Canada had spiked 28-fold during the country’s lockdown, it would seem not many are truly buying Communist leaders’ accusations this country is a vipers’ pit of hate.

Source: Douglas Todd: China’s thrashing of ‘racist’ West disguises its own sins

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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