Sometimes what is overwhelmingly obvious cannot be seen by people whose history and culture and whose basic instincts have trained them not to see. With a few unfortunate exceptions, America’s ruling elites, be they Democrat or Republican, today no doubt would swear that they harbor no racial animosity towards Chinese people. The growing American hostility to China is based on America’s self-interest and a fear of a communist China. Not race. Or so they would argue. I would argue that the old prejudices still lurk beneath the surface and influence current decisions. History just doesn’t disappear.
Investors who want to participate in the growing Chinese economy have to keep this in mind. They have economic rationality on their side but with the political process economic rationality does not always prevail. While Wall Street may think otherwise, Americans in general do not like China and support measures to slow China’s rise. Investors in China have to keep in mind that unreasonable measures that might harm their investments could come out of Washington at any time. These measures would be supported by the majority of Americans. Trump’s economic Rasputin Peter Navarro argued in one of his books that the US should endeavor to keep China poor. Nobody ever questioned the morality of that statement.
In my opinion, human beings in their hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have inherited a fear and dislike of strangers—people that look and act differently from themselves. It is a survival strategy, one that worked in the past. However, it’s not one that is useful in a globalized twenty first century world.
East Asian immigrants looked and acted differently than European immigrants. For European immigrants America was a paradise, a land of opportunity. For the different people—Asians, Africans and Native Americans—to put it gently America was not a paradise.
In an earlier blog I documented America’s ongoing hostile treatment of Asian immigrants starting with the Naturalization Act of 1790 which only allowed Caucasian immigrants to become naturalized citizens. In 2021 America has seen a tsunami of random attacks, sometimes fatal, against East Asians. Another blog reviewed America’s record of one genocidal war after the other in Asia, notably Vietnam and Korea.
Americans might be surprised to know that their country’s disgraceful record o was duplicated in Canada and Australia. Restrictive immigration laws just like those in the United States were passed to keep out undesirable Chinese and Japanese immigrants. And Canada and Australia were no slouch when it came to internment camps for their Japanese citizens during World War II. The US interned some 120,000 Japanese, many of whom were citizens. The respective Canadian and Australian numbers were 22,000 and 4000. Allowing for much smaller populations, these are significant numbers.
Australia is of particular interest since geographically it is practically in Asia. But Australia had basically a White Australia immigration policy from the country’s beginning right up to 1973. I would argue that it was acting out its fear and dislike of strangers evolutionary impulse. One Australian politician in the late 1940s even coined an expression “two Wongs don’t make a White.” Think about this when you read about the current China/Australia dispute.
China has 1.4 billion people who on average are good at math and science, work hard, are infatuated with technology and have a four thousand year tradition of top down rule. The Chinese think that now is the time for them to become rich and realize their full potential.
When Wall Street looks at this, it sees opportunity. Economists appreciate the rationality of globalization. But for many Americans, all this makes China their worst nightmare.
But Isn’t China a Dangerous Communist Country?
American political elites must be politically correct and can no longer admit to racist tendencies. The fact that China is nominally a communist country is the canard that the China hating elites invoke. A leading exponent of this point of view was Mike Pompeo, Trump’s Secretary of State. If you read some of Pompeo’s statements, you would think all of China is seething with rebellion against the tyrannical Communist party.
This would be news to the majority of Chinese who are experiencing the highest standard of living in their country’s four thousand year history. Chinese reportedly look with astonishment at the disorder that characterized the recent American elections and the assaults on fellow Chinese in America. They appreciate the stability that China’s current political system delivers, especially when compared with China’s recent turbulent past.
The Chinese IPOs, on US and Chinese exchanges, just keep coming. If this is communism, the world needs more of it! Noted futurist George Gilder thinks China is more capitalist than the US. Another respected commentator and former Singaporean Ambassador to the UN, Kishore Mahbubani, thinks China should change the name of the Chinese Communist Party to the Chinese Civilization Party.
Donald Trump, the man who more than anyone unleashed the current anti-China feeling in the US, earlier in his life ranted about the evil Japanese who were taking advantage of America. Same arguments as he later used against China. Except Japan wasn’t communist. But the Japanese did look different, worked really hard and no doubt were good at math. Is the current China hatred déjà vu all over again?
A Note on Covid Reparations
Some American politicians want China to pay reparations for covid on the yet unproven assumption that the virus was created in and escaped from the Wuhan Virology Institute. But hold on! The illustrious Dr. Tony Fauci just admitted that the US, through a byzantine layer of government agencies, funded the research at the Wuhan Virology Institute. He implied that the virus experiments were too dangerous to be conducted in the US. So they were offshored to China!
Therefore I ask should America pay the reparations? And while America is in a reparations mode, how about payments for the millions left dead at the hands of the American military in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. And how about the 40,000 or so killed or wounded in Vietnam by unexploded American ordnance (UXOs) left behind? And what about the Vietnamese victims of American chemical warfare (Agent Orange)?