What Chinese College Students Think About Race
As an English teacher at a Chinese university, I spend a lot of time with young people. As a result of friendships I’ve developed, I have learned a lot about what they think about race and ethnicity.I’m particularly well positioned because my university has an especially large number of students from Pakistan and sub-Saharan Africa. Most identitarians believe the Chinese are traditional and realistic in their attitudes towards race. For now, this is true, but the Western mentality is rapidly infiltrating Chinese society and corrupting the minds of young people. The old ethnonationalism that protected Chinese identity is evaporating under the pervasive forces of globalization and liberalism.
The girls’ disgust is often combined with fear, and they associate blacks with crime. This gut attitude from Chinese girls can be perplexing because it arises from those who have often never met a black person, or have seen them only in passing. It seems to me this association of black people with danger and violence is almost innate for Chinese people, especially women. I’ve also noticed that black African young men have absolutely no luck trying to date Chinese girls, who see them as weird, ugly, and aggressive.
This contrasts sharply with Chinese girls’ typical reaction to whites. From my own observation, and from what I hear from others, they practically throw themselves at white guys. In our class introductions at the beginning of the semester, I usually have at least four or five ask if I will date them—they flirt with me right in front of the class. Many more make advances privately. The Pakistani boys have mixed results. Some of them are successful, but if they are too traditional in their Islamic behavior, the Chinese girls reject them.
My male students mainly see blacks as basketball players and hip-hop rap artists, and they often describe them as “cool,” “fashionable,” and “strong.” Many of them idolize black people. However, Chinese boys are not attracted to black women and would never think of marrying one. I was once in a group discussion in which it was jokingly suggested China should invade Africa to acquire women to fill the sex gap plaguing China (thirty million Chinese boys have no girl to marry). One of the Chinese men in the group looked perplexed, and said: “But there are no women in Africa for us to marry; there are only dark-skinned people there.”
Although there is basic agreement that blacks are not attractive, I am still amazed by how differently Chinese boys and girls think of blacks, especially of black men. In part, this may be because Chinese young people are more segregated by sex than American young people, so they may have different ideas about other things as well. Many boys are afraid to talk to the girls, which keeps them even further apart.
What I’ve described is the Chinese “gut reaction” to black people, but the issue is becoming more complex as the Chinese government “opens up,” as my students call it. As a foreigner, I don’t see everything that goes on within the Chinese education system, but I gather from my students that the government’s approach is a contradictory combination of an enthusiastic embrace of globalism with a form of nationalism that protects the government. The results can be surprising.
Despite their obviously low opinion of blacks, when I ask my students whether blacks are as intelligent as whites and Asians, they almost universally reply, “Yes.” This is because of their schooling. Almost all of them cite the phrase “all men are created equal,” even though many of them don’t know where it comes from. They tell me their teachers taught them racial equality when they were in school. When I ask them why they believe this, they cite the line from the Declaration of Independence as if were scientific proof of equality.
I often get interesting reactions when I explain the actual IQ scores for each race. My students’ first reaction is laughingly to celebrate the Asian results: “Ha! We’re smarter than white people!” After we joke about this, I ask them what they think about blacks being so far below whites and Asians. Almost without exception, they cite the arguments made by the American Left: “It’s because of white racism,” “It’s because of European colonialism,” “It’s because they have bad nutrition,” or “It’s because they don’t have proper education.”
I was initially shocked by this. I couldn’t imagine how they’d been trained to say these things when they spent their whole lives in Chinese schools. Many of them say their teachers taught them Africa was poor because white people stole all the natural resources. It seems that racial egalitarianism has spread farther and deeper than most of us would have imagined.
Part of this can be blamed on Chinese government media (which is almost all media). In an effort to delegitimize American society and inspire nationalism, the authorities portray the United States in a bad light. This includes reporting on gun violence, and constant coverage of “police shootings of young black men,” which they portray as evidence of American “racism.” At the same time, Chinese seem to equate globalism with Western culture and, especially, Americanism. All things American are fashionable and cool.
Increasing Chinese globalization will probably accentuate these contradictory trends, and the Chinese government is not consistent on race. It teaches that America is evil because of “racism,” while simultaneously making it impossible for non-Chinese foreigners to get permanent residency. Allegedly, there is a way to get it, but no one, to my knowledge, has ever successfully done so. The government condemns Europe for not taking in more refugees while enforcing some of the strictest border controls and visa restrictions in the world. To us foreign residents, this is highly hypocritical.
My students sometimes claim America and Europe are “racist” for not allowing mass immigration, or they suggest I must be “prejudiced” against Mr. Obama because he’s black. When I ask them if they want the Chinese president to be black, or China to invite millions of Japanese immigrants, they react with horror and bewilderment. Their common response is something timid and confused, such as, “That’s just not the Chinese way.”
This deligitimizing of America is coupled with officially encouraged hatred of the Japanese. The Japanese are denigrated every year on the annual Anti-Japanese Day—yes, it’s really called that—which was created to memorialize the Nanking Massacre. My students often say shocking things, such as, “Why didn’t America kill all the Japanese people in WWII?” or “Please nuke the Japanese again,” within the same conversation in which they criticize American “racism.” I’ve heard this same, inconsistent attitude echoed by senior university officials.
My race-realist perspective is almost always vindicated when my students travel to America with foreign work programs. One of my students worked in Ohio over the summer. When he returned, I met him in a tea shop and asked him what he thought of America. The first thing out of his mouth was: “The black people . . . they’re so . . . dangerous.” I got a similar unprovoked reaction while I was sitting at a gate in the Shanghai airport. A complete stranger was returning from Massachusetts and suddenly delivered a rant about how blacks were brutish and weird.
When African students began arriving at my university in higher numbers last year, the Pakistani and Chinese students were initially excited about getting to know them. I watched the excitement turn to confusion and disgust.
A Pakistani friend decided to have an African as his roommate. I warned him against it, but he went ahead with his plan. For the next six months, he enlivened our conversation with horror stories about the absurd and outrageous incompetence of his apartment mate.
Unfortunately, academics will probably grow to adopt the liberal American perspective on racial equality and compatibility, but actual exposure to diversity is usually a cure. There are ways to speed up the process. One of my Chinese friends couldn’t believe there was evidence for blacks having lower IQs and higher crime rates than whites and Asians. I pulled up Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance video “Race Differences in Intelligence” on YouTube and let her watch. I then showed her videos of the Ferguson riots, flash mobs carried out by “youths,” and videos of the knockout game. Her perspective changed in a single evening. She was shocked, and told me her whole perception of America and race relations had changed. She’s been “red-pilled” ever since.
Egalitarian illusions are taking root in China, but they are not as firmly implanted as in the United States. Direct experience or a dose of countervailing evidence is often an effective cure. But the cultural influence goes only one way: Illusions flow from the West to China. It is impossible to know how badly they may eventually poison the minds of young Chinese.
As in the West, older Chinese seem to have a stronger instinctive dislike for blacks than young people. I’ve been told by friends that African students have trouble renting apartments from older and middle-aged Chinese landlords. Personally, I have very limited interaction with older people, so my impressions are mainly second hand.
Young Chinese who do not attend college have more traditional racial views than the more educated, but they are still influenced to a great degree by American pop culture, and are instructed in primary school by teachers who have been influenced to some extent by American thinking. Their beliefs are still moving towards egalitarianism, though more slowly.
The long-term solution, of course, is to eradicate the illusions at their source, which is the United States. I have come to realize the importance of this effort, not just for whites but for the entire world.