Although the US is considered a “country of immigrants,” xenophobia and racism are historically inherent in American society. One clear indication of this is that, until recently, only white Anglo-Saxon and Protestant residents, who were the majority of the US population, considered themselves “100 percent Americans”.
Therefore, it is not surprising that racism against black people has been and remains a very significant factor in the domestic political environment in the United States. The recent race riots sweeping across America clearly show that because of US government policies, racial hatred remains a major tool of Washington’s influence on American society. And this is recognized both by the Americans themselves, and even by The Guardian, a British newspaper “friendly” to the current authorities in Washington.
However, African Americans are not the only people who are subjected to racism in the United States. As a result of the White House-initiated conflict with China, first trade and then “coronavirus” conflicts, official White House accusations against Beijing for the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already killed over 500,000 Americans, the United States saw a resurgence in Sinophobia. Continuing Donald Trump’s anti-Chinese attacks, the Biden administration, like its predecessors, seeks blame for its miscalculations and domestic policy failures outside the country. This is a favorite move of American politicians, a familiar and, most importantly, simple and quick way to hide their own incompetence, and to shift responsibility to others.
In the heat of the recent Russophobic policy of the White House, built largely on fake information (as demonstrated, in particular, by the failure of Russiagate), the US propaganda machine has now chosen China as the new bogeyman to scare the population with. The concept of the “Chinese threat” has become mainstream in the current US government. Sinophobia (that is, fear and hatred of China) has become as much a systemic factor in the foreign policy of the United States and its allies as many other phobias of Western civilization, which prompted them to act very decisively in their time. With the help of Washington, a lot of information is being spread about the PRC in America and Europe today, as if to suggest that China is about to break. But US citizens are increasingly aware of the fact that it is impossible to predict the outcome of the confrontation with Beijing, including of that in space and IT. And this has only encouraged Sinophobia even more.
Under the influence of such a policy of the official US authorities, the attitude of ordinary Americans toward China and its citizens has recently deteriorated sharply. According to Gallup, a record number of Americans now perceive China as the main enemy of the United States. A prime example of this is, in particular, the class action civil suit against the Chinese government for the effects of the coronavirus, demanding $20 trillion in compensation from a Washington-based action group and a Texas-based company.
In the early months of the pandemic, Asians in the United States actively purchased weapons and ammunition in the hope that the weapons would help them defend their lives if necessary and fight back against angry fellow citizens who believed that the Chinese were the main spreaders of the coronavirus.
Today, Blinken and Austin continue to “drive” allies into the alliance against China, actively pushing their Asian partners to create a new “Asian NATO” based on the Quad.
Washington’s political course in the Asia-Pacific region is “permeated with Sinophobia,” Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the US, said in an interview to the Japanese newspaper Nikkei.
Washington regularly states that the PRC poses a threat to American security, which cannot but affect public opinion. As a result of increased anti-Chinese rhetoric on the part of the authorities, the United States has been experiencing a sharp increase in attacks on people of Asian appearance over the past year. In mid-March, America was shocked by media reports from the state of Georgia, where a young man went on a shooting spree at several spas against persons of Asian appearance.
The events in Georgia have also prompted critical comments from Asian countries. For example, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called the violence against people of Asian descent in the United States “heinous and disturbing” and “of deep concern” for Beijing; the United States should take “practical steps to deal with racism and racial discrimination in its own country,” the diplomat stressed. The tragic events in Georgia have brought even more public, political, and media attention to the issue of attacks on Asian Americans and people of Asian descent in general. Not a day goes by in the US in recent months without reports of these kinds of incidents, ranging from verbal abuse to physical attacks that sometimes end in the deaths of victims.
Statistics on the topic were analyzed by the Center for the Study of Hate Crimes and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. In the past year, according to Stop AAPI Hate, there have been about 3,800 instances of hate speech in 16 major cities across the US against Asian Americans. This includes both verbal and physical abuse. Women of Asian descent are affected almost twice as often as men. Compared to the previous year, the number of such attacks increased by 150%, while the number of hate crimes in the United States as a whole decreased by 7% during the same period. In fact, there may be many more cases of violent attacks against Asians than the statistics indicate. The problem is that many victims are simply afraid to report the incident to the police. The main reasons for this are fear for their lives and the language barrier, explain Stop AAPI Hate.
In recent days a wave of demonstrations against Sinophobia has already swept across the United States, demanding that the country’s political authorities combat xenophobia and racism not in word but in deed.
The current political establishment must make the necessary adjustments to its policies toward China and prevent a return of the mass atrocities against ethnic Chinese, similar to what already took place 135 years ago in the “bulwark of tolerance” – the United States. At that time, in 1882, the federal government passed the so-called Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited both the migration of Chinese to the United States and the naturalization of those who had already arrived. With various amendments, this discriminatory law remained in effect until 1965. And in early September 1885, there was a massacre in the northern United States known as the Rock Springs Massacre.
Many important lessons should be learned from history by today’s American politicians. They should also consider that, even though Asian Americans are a relatively small group in terms of numbers, they are the fastest-growing community and, going forward, their electoral leanings will play a very important role in this country.
Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.