Mainstream media outlets associated with neo-liberal parties in Europe have for years, attempted to tar Palestine supporters on the left as being antisemitic. This slander is based on a calculated attempt to blur the lines between the geopolitical issue of Palestinian statehood, the post-war growth of American style free speech as a legal reality in Europe and campaigns of hatred against those who practice the Jewish faith and/or have ancestors who practised the Jewish faith.
In 2018, this campaign by the neo-liberal mainstream media has been most apparent in its attempts to tar Britain’s leftist opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn as antisemitic due to his historic support for Palestine’s geopolitical rights. Such neo-liberal mainstream media organisations however, casually overlook Corbyn’s equally public history of supporting the civil rights of all peoples in Europe, including Jews. But while both the right wing and left wing media busy themselves in debates over Corbyn and his fellow European leftists, an elephant in the room is being ignored – that of Sinophobia.
For obvious enough reasons, left wing European campaigns against various forms of hatred against minorities or that which is deemed to be ‘foreign’, have traditionally focused on those who could not defend themselves. In 1930s Europe, Jews were uniquely defenceless against fascist persecution, while in 2018, it is Palestinians who are uniquely persecuted in their own land as well as being uniquely discriminated against as refugees whether in Jordan, Lebanon, France or Britain.
China as a nation remains highly ‘foreign’ to most Europeans. While China is obviously not a European culture, nor is Palestine. Yet many on the European left go out of their way to defend Palestine from defamation because of its categorically defenceless position, yet when China and Chinese are attacked with campaigns of defamation, not only are many on the left unconcerned, but many on the left are indeed guilty of perpetuating slander about China and the global community of Han Chinese.
Unlike Palestine today, or European Jewry in the 1930s, China as a state is not only strong, but it is about to become the leading economy of the world. In many sectors it has already been on top for many years. This however, has not yet been able to shelter the Chinese state from campaigns of hatred, nor has China’s soft-power developed sufficiently to protect overseas Chinese from discrimination.
According to their own narratives, the left ought to rush to the defence of the Chinese state and Chinese people against discrimination, but they do not. Instead, it is frequently leftists themselves who attempt to paint China and its system of Socialism With Chinese Characterises for a New Era as aggressive, heartless and most perversely, non-socialist.
When it comes to Chinese people, many in Europe are enraged by the fact that even in societies where Chinese are a minority, they historically excel as scientists, engineers, small business owners and a variety of other universally respected fields. The idea of a minority people excelling in social valued fields is not a new concept. Indeed, this is something which in the 1930s was used as a means to promulgate anti-Jewish laws throughout many fascist regimes. Thus, one sees that even when a minority is not a socio-economic underdog in the traditional sense, one can be subjected to campaigns of hatred which in 1930s Europe, led to the genocide of European Jewry. While nearly all Europeans will be aware of Hitler’s genocidal policies of the 1930s and 1940s, fewer will be aware of the genocide against Chinese committed by Japanese imperialists at the same time. How many in Europe are aware that in a few weeks, during the Nanjing Massacre, Japanese imperialists slaughtered 300,000 innocent Chinese? Those who do not know this have clearly been failed by both their local schools and their local media.
While I’m not suggesting that Europe is about to slaughter its Chinese minority in the 21st century, the hatred voiced on a daily basis about the People’s Republic of China and overseas Chinese is a vocal problem that is being totally ignored by the otherwise socially conscientious left. In European societies where general unemployment is high, youth unemployment is very high, wages are stagnant and the price of goods continues to rise, many look to the successes of the Chinese state where none of these issues exist and also look to Chinese in Europe who continue to thrive in spite of poor socio-economic conditions and instead of feeling happy for them, they feel resentful.
While most parties on the European left want to solve issues of unemployment, stagnant wages and a lack of opportunities, many point to Chinese and defame them under the sometimes thinly veiled and at other times overt insults the likes of “Chinese work too hard and we cannot compete”. This is not the first time racist stereotypes have been used to try and discriminate against a Chinese minority.
In 1970, Malaysia enshrined into law the New Economic Policy which was designed to improve the socio-economic conditions of ethnic Malays (Bumiputra) by discriminating against a historically socio-economically successful Chinese minority community. Anti-Chinese affirmative action policies which formed a central part of Malaysian Premier Tunku Abdul Rahman’s platform even before the invention of the New Economic Policy, led to Singapore’s exit from Malaysia in 1965, as the People’s Action Party of modern Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew favoured a policy of complete racial equality and a harsh clampdown on all forms of discrimination and inter-communal agitation.
It was only under the Premiership of Mahathir Mohamad that the New Economic Policy was relaxed and eventually replaced. It is not a coincidence that Malaysia’s strong economic growth coincided with Mahathir Mohamad’s policies.
Whether tying one proverbial hand of a socio-economically successful minority behind its back as in mid-20th century Malaysia or slaughtering a socio-economically successful minority as was done in fascist Europe in the 1930s, such methods do not provide solutions to the alleged problems they are trying to solve.
If a Chinese family in modern Europe can find socio-economic success in spite of clear discrimination from many indigenous Europeans, the shame should be felt among the European majority who fall behind in terms of education and business success in their own country, when compared with a hard working minority who have to overcome the same socio-economic conditions with the added drawback of racial discrimination, in order to achieve success.
Yet from the European left, one sees nothing but insults about China ranging from lies about poor working conditions in Chinese factories to so-called animal rights campaigns which defame Chinese as barbarians. One quick look at any China-centred so-called animal rights campaign on Twitter or Facebook and one will see Europeans of the centre-left crying for animals while also shrieking about ‘Chinese barbarism’. The clear racist implication is that Chinese are lower than animals, aka subhuman.
One of the reasons that the European left has electorally fallen behind in recent decades is because they failed to catch up with the times. They were always fighting yesterday’s battles on yesterday’s terms. The reality is that the vast majority of party loyalists at a Jeremy Corbyn rally do not harbour an ounce of ill will towards Jewish people. Indeed, some party loyalists at a Jeremy Corbyn rally may be Jewish themselves.
One could not stand before a platform at a leftist European meeting and disparage Africans, Jews, Palestinians, Muslims or South Asians – such things in Europe are contained on the far-right of political discourse. But one could easily disparage China on such a leftist platform and only a few voices would be raised in opposition to such racism.
Ultimately, the People’s Republic of China will not suffer because of the Sinophobia on the European left, but some Chinese living in Europe could suffer because of a culture of hatred directed to Beijing, even if the individual targets of discrimination were born in Europe and have never set foot in the People’s Republic of China.
Of course, one can criticise the People’s Republic of China without being Sinophobic – just ask the “President of Taiwan”. But while in Europe, everyone but the mainstream media knows the difference between Zionism, Palestine and Europeans of Jewish background, nothing is being done or said to even define the problem of Sinophobia in Europe.
If the European left truly care about the rights of minorities, they should start talking about China and Chinese. If they do not, the neo-liberals who are happy to make money from China, while still thinking, talking and acting like white supremacists, will once again seize the initiative and use the Sinophobia issue to discredit the left in the most insincere way possible, just as they are attempting to do in respect of Palestine and antisemitism. The average European can now see through the neo-liberal lies which defame the European left as antisemitic. Yet at the same time, many on the the European left have become intoxicated by Sinophobia, in spite of expressing these views on phones and computers that are in most cases, made partly or completely in China.