Zhao Yuezhi: Canada should reflect on its struggle with racism (29.7.2021)

Translator’s Comment: I have included below – two versions of the same article penned by my colleague – Prof Zhao Yuezhi – which were published in the Chinese and English languages through the China Daily website. Having read both versions, (the latter of which is read widely in the West) I noticed that each version differs slightly in content – with the English version (which turns-out to be the ‘original’ version according to Prof Zhao) containing slightly more detail. Furthermore, the accompanying picture for this excellent anti-imperialist (and anti-racist) article is different (although related). Wikipedia, of course, masquerades as a ‘People’s Encyclopaedia’ but is in fact run by the US and used as a mouthpiece that only expresses the views of US foreign policy – past and present. Its basis is ‘anti-intellectual’ in nature, and is unreliable as a general encyclopaedia. The Wikipedia entry for ‘Yuezhi Zhao’ states she made comments about the Uyghur and that Simon Fraser University supported her on the grounds that she is expressing ‘academic freedom.’ The Wikipedia implication is that Prof Zhao ‘equates’ the treatment of the Uyghur (in Xinjiang) with the treatment of ‘Aboriginals’ in Canada – but this is obviously a ‘straw dog’ fallacy. This added line in Wikipedia. although ‘anti-intellectual’, is designed to cause the greatest damage with the least number of words. It implicitly supports the US disinformation which states that China ‘invaded’ Tibet and Xinjiang post-1949 – when these areas have been part of sovereign China for hundreds and thousands of years! In-short, China has not ‘invaded’ its own territory – hence the US ‘anti-intellectualism’ I discussed above. Wikipedia finally suggests that ‘Simon Fraser’ supports this false argument. Prof Zhao never said or implied that the Chinese State had ‘invaded’ either Tibet or Xinjiang – but simply made the statement that whilst the Canadian government bleats-on whilst mindlessly following US ‘anti-intellectual’ (and obviously ‘false’) dictates about China – the ‘real-world’ reality is that the White (European) settlement of Canada was premised upon racism and that these ‘racist’ policies have caused – and are still causing – endless suffering amongst the non-White populations of Canada! All this is going on, as Prof Zhao expertly points-out, whilst the Canadian government continues to ‘fabricate’ ahistorical dogma about China! This is the ‘academic freedom’ Simon Fraser is supporting. I present the first article below (which is the original ‘English’ version) whilst the second version is my English translation of the Chinese version. This is followed by the Chinese text (making ‘three’ expressions of the two versions)! ACW (22.2.2022)

English Version (Linked Under Above Photograph)

More than halfway through the year, 2021 has truly provoked me to think about history and what it means to be a Chinese Canadian, especially the settler-colonial nature of the Canadian state and the moral high ground that Canadian politicians have assumed in critiquing the Chinese state.

It is said that history is the best schoolbook. Perhaps it is in that context that we can appreciate the Communist Party of China’s ongoing campaign to study Party history as the centrepiece of its activities celebrating the 100th anniversary of the CPC’s founding.

The CPC, despite all the trials and tribulations, even grave mistakes, is in a position to tell the proud history of national liberation, a history in which the Chinese nation overthrew the “three mountains” of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism.

On the Canadian side, however, history has brought up disturbing skeletons in 2021, so much so that Canadian flags were flying at half-staff on Canada Day.

Surely enough, mainstream Canadian society has expressed disbelief and shock at the mistreatment of aboriginal children in the residential school system.

However, we must not forget two crucial points: First, the genocide of the aboriginal population has been at the very core of the founding of Canada as a settler-colonial state from the very beginning; second, that genocidal history has been a lived reality for generations of Canada’s First Nations population, as its indigenous people are known.

What must be brought into sharp focus is not just Canada’s residential school system and its genocidal crimes but the entire colonial project of the West, with its crimes against humanity all over the world for more than 500 years.

While the oppressive forms that colonialism has taken might have been different-from the genocide of the aboriginal populations in the Americas to the enslavement of Africans, and the imposition of the Opium Wars against the Chinese-the logic has always been the same: the exploitation of the world’s lands, peoples of color and resources for imperial gain and relentless capitalistic accumulation, the cultivation of whiteness as a dominating ideology, and the suppression of the world’s diverse cultural systems in favor of the monoculture of Christianity.

Even today, after centuries of decolonization struggles by the world’s oppressed peoples and after an interstate system has long been established in the aftermath of two bloody wars in the first half of the 20th century, white supremacy and colonial mentality are still deeply ingrained in mainstream Western culture.

What must be emphasized is this: Racism is not just a subjective state of mind, but a deeply ingrained institution and an exploitative power structure through which the privileged social, economic and cultural positions of the colonial settlers and their descendants are reproduced.

However, this is not to say that all white people are by definition racist. In the case of the Canadian residential school system, as revealed by the fate of “The Bryce Report “more than a century ago, it was Peter Henderson Bryce, a nonindigenous public health physician and social reformer, who had long documented the “national crime” in the residential school system.

That Bryce’s voice was marginalized and not heeded was a powerful indictment of the systematic nature of institutionalized racism and mainstream Canadian society’s genocidal treatment of the First Nations.

Today, despite the sustained struggles of racial minorities, racism remains a major problem in Canadian society. Among other developments, the Canadian state’s dependence on the United States in its foreign policies toward China and the Canadian establishment’s self-righteous position vis-a-vis China on human rights issues have fueled anti-Asian hatred. This has been verified by increased incidents of racially motivated attacks against Asian Canadians.

China is not a colonial nation; nor is it a settler state. On the contrary, as a nation that was once subjugated by imperialism and colonialism, the Chinese people have powerful collective memories of the crimes of imperialism and colonialism.

Furthermore, the idea that one should “not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. As China gains more economic power and assumes a greater role in global affairs, Western politicians and pundits of all academic stripes have been highly consistent in claiming that China will emerge as a “traditional imperial hegemon”.

In my view, that deterministic view reflects more the deeply entrenched paradigm of Western imperialism than a sound prediction of China’s developmental path.

Similarly, while the Chinese nation is constituted of multiple ethnicities, the Chinese mode of transcultural national integration has not been forged around the colonial mode of assimilation.

Contrary to the genocidal decline of the aboriginal population in North America over the past 500 years, minority populations such as Tibetans and Uygurs have grown significantly, and that has especially been the case since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

When Canadian politicians, media outlets and scholars attack China for alleged human rights abuses, especially when they accuse China of genocidal treatment of the Uygurs in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, we are witnessing the same unreflective application to China of a home-based paradigm based on the genocidal assimilation of aboriginal people.

Apart from sustaining its dependency status on the US in its foreign policy, such an anti-China discourse also contributes to racism in Canadian society. It is high time that Canada focuses on its own unfinished struggle against racism and overcomes its settler-colonialist legacy.

The author is a professor and Canada Research Chair in political economy of global communication at the School of Communication of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

Translated Chinese Language Version (Click Under Below Photograph for Original Article)

Canada should reflect on the dark chapter of its ‘genocide’ history

Author: Zhao Yuezhi (赵月枝)

2021 is halfway through. This year has made me really think about history and what it means to be a Chinese-Canadian, especially the colonial nature of Canada and the so-called “moral high ground” that Canadian politicians occupy when criticizing China.

It is said that history is the best textbook.

In 2021, however, Canada is “unearthing” a dark and little-known history, so much so that the flag will have to be flown at half-mast on Canada Day.

Yes, mainstream Canadian society expresses suspicion and shock at the abuse of Aboriginal children in boarding schools.

However, we must not forget two key issues: first, that the genocide of Aboriginal peoples was at the heart of Canada’s founding as a colonial nation from the very beginning; reality.

We must focus not only on the Canadian boarding school system and its genocide, but also on the crimes against humanity committed by the West around the world for more than 500 years, but also on the colonial programme of the West as a whole.

Although colonialism took different forms of oppression—whether it was the genocide of Native Americans or the enslavement of Africans, and the launch of the Opium War against China, the logic behind it was the same: for imperial interests and capital accumulation, The ruthless exploitation of global lands, people of colour, and resources, the ideological nurture of white dominance, and the suppression of the world’s multicultural system in favour of a Christian monoculture.

Even today, after centuries of anti-colonial struggles by oppressed peoples all over the world, after two bloody wars in the first half of the 20th century, and the establishment of the current international system, white supremacy and colonial mentality are still deeply rooted in the Western mainstream culture.

It must be emphasized that racism is not only a subjective state of mind, but an entrenched institutional and exploitative power structure through which the privileged social, economic and cultural status of colonizers and their descendants thrived.

Of course, this is not to say that all white people are racist. More than a century ago, the fate of the Bryce Report shed light on the state of Canada’s boarding school system. White doctor and social reformer Peter Henderson Bryce has long documented the “crimes of the state” committed by boarding schools.

Yet Bryce’s voice is marginalized and ignored, which in itself is a powerful indictment of systemic and institutionalized racism, as well as mainstream Canadian society’s genocidal attitudes toward Indigenous peoples. Today, racism remains a major problem in Canadian society, despite ongoing minority resistance.

Canada’s reliance on the United States for its foreign policy toward China, and the Canadian government’s self-righteous stance toward China on human rights issues has fueled anti-Asian hatred. This is confirmed by the rise in racial assaults on Asian Canadians.

China was never a colonial power. On the contrary, as a nation once persecuted by imperialism and colonialism, the Chinese people have a strong collective memory of the crimes of imperialism and colonialism.

“Do not do to others what you do not want to do to yourself” is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. As China’s economic power grows and it takes on a more important role in global affairs, Western politicians and various academic authorities have declared with high degree of unanimity that China will emerge as a “traditional imperial hegemony”.

In my opinion, this deterministic view reflects more of the entrenched Western imperialist paradigm than a reasonable prediction of China’s development path.

The colonial mentality of white supremacy is still ingrained in mainstream Western culture today and is at the root of today’s rampant racism. Canada should now focus on its unfinished fight against racism and an early resolution of its colonial legacy.

About the author: Professor Zhao Yuezhi, a member of the Royal Society of Canada and a famous communication scholar.

Original Chinese Language Text:


作者: 赵月枝 来源:中国日报

2021-07-30 16:39 




然而, 2021年加拿大正在“出土”一段黑暗而鲜为人知的历史,以至于加拿大国庆日那天不得不降半旗致哀。







当然,这并不是说所有的白人都是种族主义者。一个多世纪前,《布莱斯报告》( Bryce Report)的命运揭示了加拿大寄宿学校制度的情况。长期以来,白人医生和社会改革家彼得•亨德森•布莱斯一直在记录寄宿学校所犯的“国家罪行”。








Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s