Franka Lu is a Chinese journalist and entrepreneur. you
works in China and Germany. In this TIME ONLINE series
she reports critically about life, culture and everyday life in China. To her
protect their professional and private environment, she writes
On June 20, 2017, actress Yao Chen, a Chinese movie and TV star whose 80 million followers on the Weibo social media platform had awarded her the title of "Queen of Weibo," entered the biggest crisis of her career to date.
In 2013, Yao is the High Commissioner for Refugees United Nations appointed as the first Chinese UNHCR ambassador. On the occasion of World Refugee Day 2017 on June 20, she wrote in a Weibo post how touched she was by the young participants in a UNHCR ceremony. The next morning, her Weibo profile was full of filthy insults and nasty attacks that spread to all other social media.
In the days that followed, Yao had to publicly declare that she had never called for China to accommodate refugees (say, from the Middle East), only to other forms of support. But the attacks continued and became so fierce that she secretly had to ask some media to delete certain reports or posts. After a few weeks, the hate slowly faded, but until today Yao hang the swear words given online Sheng Mu Biao (lying slave goddess) and Bai Zuo (white do-gooder). Both are intended to scorn "hypocritical" or "naïve" people who show sympathy for refugees. Since then, it dares to China Hardly anyone, publicly even considering the possibility of China could accommodate refugees.
This hatred of refugees (Nan Min) in the Chinese public is a relatively new phenomenon, and the causes are as much in the past as in the presence of culture, politics and ideology in China. These causes lie before us like parts of a fragmented mirror, scattered desolately, sometimes overlying each other, sometimes far apart – but all the shards reflect the dreams of the Chinese government of today, the Chinese people, and the overseas Chinese. And they make little hope for a better world.
The first Spiegelscherbe shows us an inconvenient truth: the open, but rarely openly named racism in China.
Two types of racism
There are few scientific studies on racism in Chinese history and society. The ancestor cult that has survived in Chinese culture to date makes it difficult to critically analyze pre-modern notions of Chinese heritage. At the strictly controlled universities, Chinese scientists are not allowed to do research in this direction.
And the few international scientists who have ventured into this area are exposed to criticism from China and even from Western colleagues. After all, racism is a term developed from Western colonial history. In conjunction with some sinologists, the Chinese government has developed a kind of "Chinese exceptionalism". There is a claim that everything that looks racist in China is something completely different from the "true racism" of the West, a tradition rooted in history and culture.
However, scientists such as Frank Dikötter and Yinghong Cheng, who are among the few who research on this topic, have shown that racism is widespread not only in China, but also in the communities of ethnic Chinese origin overseas. Chinese historiography has maintained an ethnocentric image of superiority that is experiencing a new heyday today.