February 11, 2022
Center for American Values
BREWER And YATES: Putting America First Requires Resisting China’s Systemic Racism
February 11, 2022
By Jack Brewer and Steve Yates in the Daily Caller
While many Americans often hear about China’s storied culture and history dating back thousands of years, that is not the China we are dealing with today under Communist Party leadership. As Americans celebrate Black History Month and root for Team USA at the Olympics, we think this is an important time to take a closer look at the intersection of China, sports and race.
Our approach at the America First Policy Institute’s China Policy Initiative begins with helping Americans better understand and respond to hard truths about Communist China and its influence on our culture. A cornerstone of that corrosive influence lies in Communist China’s deep-seated legacy of racism – one that runs counter to who we are as Americans.
The “People’s Republic” was established in a revolution that rejected China’s cultural and historical experience, imposed the failed European model of Marxism-Leninism, and launched a racialized domestic and international political campaign based on Han nationalism. The Han are China’s dominant ethnic group, to which all others are considered secondary or worse.
The modern manifestation of this ethno-nationalist campaign is housed in the United Front Work Department, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organization responsible for building support for the Party and neutralizing political enemies, foreign and domestic.
A defining characteristic of this organization’s operation is the use of ethnicity as a sword and a shield, demanding all ethnically Chinese people place loyalty first to the party, before God and certainly before any country in which they may have citizenship.
This racialized approach to politics (aka “systemic racism”) combined with the militant propaganda pushed out by the Communist Party results in many not-so-subtle attacks on minorities.
Among the more outrageous examples was the April 2020 posting of a sign stating, “From now on black people are no longer allowed to enter the restaurant,” at a McDonald’s in one of China’s most populous cities.
Why this kind of sign at that time? One part systemic racism and another part disinformation campaign deflecting responsibility for the spread of COVID away from China and from the Chinese people.
In fact, the McDonald’s sign expresses a pattern of behavior from the Chinese government towards racial minorities in different parts of society that has been documented repeatedly over the last several years – from television programs with “blackface” to landlords evicting Africans and accusing them of not paying taxes to China’s official messaging app, WeChat, creating an algorithm for racial slurs.
We have experienced for ourselves elements of Communist Chinese prejudice and outright racism against “black people” (per the Guangzhou McDonald’s sign). When Jack visited China on a football exchange, hundreds of Chinese people would line up and touch his skin and take photos of him, presumably because many had never before seen someone with his skin color. Far more sinister was the blatant racism he witnessed, much like in Guangzhou, of locations outright banning individuals who are black with signs resembling the American South in the 1940s.
Similarly, when Steve’s professional counterparts from Communist China learned about his family, occasionally they would say out loud what they were thinking, “given your study of Chinese language and culture, why did you adopt black children instead of Chinese?” Subsequent conversations would make clear this was not a question based on cultural curiosity or common language, but instead driven by a noxious presumption that children of a particular ethnicity would have a higher chance of developmental success.
Perhaps more troubling than the sad realities of race relations inside today’s China is the government’s highly manipulative use of radical “woke” rhetoric to deflect scrutiny away from its very real sins and amplify the charge of “systemic racism” against America. In a public meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, in March 2021, a Chinese official berated Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan for twenty minutes, saying that America’s own human rights challenges “did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter.”
American leaders must avoid condoning or even indulging the Chinese Communist Party’s dangerous use of racism. The CCP does not represent all Chinese people and must be held accountable. China is a country, not an ethnicity, and criticism of its government is not racism.
But engaging in genocide against a religious and ethnic minority within China most certainly is systemic racism, and leaders who are silent about this ugly reality in China while sowing racial strife in America must bear the weight of hypocrisy and the sin of turning away.
Jack Brewer serves as Chair, Center for Opportunity Now and Vice Chair of the Center for 1776 for the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) and Steve Yates serves as Senior Fellow and Chair, China Policy Initiative for the America First Policy Institute (AFPI).