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:

加拿大应反思实施“种族灭绝”的历史黑暗一页

作者: 赵月枝 来源:中国日报

2021-07-30 16:39 

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2021年已经过去了一半。今年让我真正思考历史,思考作为一名加拿大华人意味着什么,尤其是加拿大的殖民性质,以及加拿大政客在批评中国时所占据的所谓“道德高地”。

据说,历史是最好的教科书。

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。

没错,加拿大主流社会对原住民儿童在寄宿学校受到的虐待表示了怀疑和震惊。

然而,我们绝不能忘记两个关键问题:第一,对原住民的种族灭绝从一开始就是加拿大作为殖民主义国家建国的核心;第二,种族灭绝的历史对几代加拿大原住民来说是活生生的现实。

我们必须重点关注的不仅是加拿大寄宿学校制度及其种族灭绝罪行,还有西方世界500多年来在世界各地犯下的反人类罪行,更要关注的是整个西方的殖民计划。

尽管殖民主义采取的压迫形式有所不同——无论是对美洲土著居民的种族灭绝还是对非洲人的奴役,以及发动对中国的鸦片战争,其背后逻辑相通:为了帝国的利益和资本积累,对全球土地、有色人种和资源的无情剥削,对白人作为主导的意识形态培育,以及为了支持基督教的单一文化而压制世界多元文化体系。

即使在今天,经过全世界被压迫人民数个世纪的反殖民斗争,20世纪上半叶两次血腥战争后,人类建立了现在的国际体系,白人至上主义和殖民心态仍然深深植根于西方主流文化。

必须强调的是:种族主义不仅是一种主观心态,更是一种根深蒂固的制度和剥削的权力结构,通过这种结构,殖民者及其后代享有特权的社会、经济和文化地位得以繁衍。

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”。

然而,布莱斯的声音却被边缘化和忽视,这本身就有力地控诉了系统性制度化的种族主义,以及加拿大主流社会对原住民的种族灭绝态度。今天,尽管少数族裔的反抗仍在持续,种族主义仍然是加拿大社会的一个主要问题。

加拿大对华外交政策依赖美国,加拿大政府在人权问题上对中国自以为是的立场,都助长了反亚裔的仇恨。对亚裔加拿大人的种族攻击事件增加证实了这一点。

中国从来不是殖民国家。相反,作为一个曾经遭受帝国主义和殖民主义迫害的民族,中国人民对帝国主义和殖民主义的罪行有着强烈的集体记忆。

“己所不欲,勿施于人”的思想在中国文化中根深蒂固。随着中国经济实力的增强,并在全球事务中扮演更重要的角色,西方政客和各类学术权威高度一致地宣称,中国将崛起为一个“传统帝国霸权”。

在我看来,这种决定论的观点更多地反映了根深蒂固的西方帝国主义范式,而不是对中国发展道路的合理预测。

白人至上的殖民心态至今仍在西方主流文化中根深蒂固,并成为当今种族主义泛滥的根源。加拿大现在应该集中精力进行尚未完成的反对种族主义的斗争,早日解决其殖民主义留下的遗产。

关于作者:加拿大皇家学会院士,著名传播学者赵月枝教授。

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