(Something asks) Are Chinese Americans always "foreigners" in the United States?

  China News Service, Beijing, March 26th, title: Are Chinese Americans always "foreigners" in the United States?

——Interview with Zhou Min, President of the North American Chinese Sociological Society

  China News Agency reporter Shi Yuanfeng

  As the new crown pneumonia epidemic continues to spread in the United States, incidents of violence and hatred against Asian Americans have surged across the United States.

On March 16, the United States "Stop Hate Asia-Pacific Americans" issued a report showing that from March 19 last year to February 28 this year, a total of 3,795 incidents of racial discrimination against Asians had been received, including Personal attacks, verbal attacks, etc., among which ethnic Chinese are the most attacked ethnic group.

  In this regard, a reporter from China News Agency interviewed Zhou Min, professor of sociology and Asian American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Zhou Min.

Photo courtesy of me

  "The Chinese have settled down and taken root and integrated into the local society attentively. They are not'foreign sojourners', let alone'permanent foreigners' status." Zhou Min said that for nearly half a century, Chinese Americans seem to have successfully integrated into the United States. Mainstream society, but in fact it is still labeled as "foreign sojourner".

Chinese power: an indispensable existence in American history

  Zhou Min, originally from Guangdong, China, obtained a bachelor's degree in English and American Language and Literature from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou in 1982. He studied in the United States in 1984 and has published 17 academic monographs and nearly 200 academic papers in both Chinese and English. He has in-depth knowledge of the history of Chinese in the United States. the study.

She is currently the director of UCLA Asia Pacific Center and professor of sociology, and the first dean of the Asian Studies Department of the school. In 2017, she won the "Outstanding Professional Achievement Award" of the International Immigration Branch of the American Sociological Association.

  Looking at the history of American immigration, Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States more than 170 years ago and were one of the first people of color to enter the United States.

Zhou Min pointed out that Chinese Americans, like other immigrant groups, have made great contributions to the building of the American nation and the shaping of its economy, system, and social structure.

However, Chinese and even Asians have always been marginalized in the United States because of their ethnic identity.

"The current situation is closely connected with history." She said.

Data map: An American audience is watching the "Photographic Exhibition of the History of Chinese Workers in the United States".

Photo by Wang Huan

  In the 1860s, a large number of Chinese laborers participated in the development of the western United States, turning the first page of modern Chinese immigration history.

In 1863, when the Central Pacific Railway Company began to build the western section of the Trans-American Continental Railway, tens of thousands of Chinese workers became the main force.

Leland Stanford, president of Central Pacific Corporation and founder of Stanford University, told the U.S. Congress in 1865, "Without these Chinese workers, it would be impossible to complete the western part of this great national enterprise within the time set by the Congressional Act."

  Zhou Min introduced that in 1966, mainstream American media published two influential articles, one of which was a commentator article in US News and World Report. America's road to success".

The beginning and subsequent series of related articles marked the beginning of a fundamental change in the views and descriptions of Asian immigrants and their descendants in the mass media.

The article highly praised the spirit and actions of Chinese and Japanese Americans for their perseverance and great success in overcoming all kinds of hardships and racial discrimination, and stated that these are incomparable by white people born and raised in the United States.

  At the legal level, the Chinese promoted the promulgation of anti-racial discrimination laws.

In 1894, Jinde, who was born in the United States, visited relatives in China. When he returned to the United States in August the following year, he was rejected by the US Customs under the Chinese Exclusion Act.

In the end, Jinde took the federal government to court, and the Supreme Court accepted the case.

In 1898, the Goldman's case became a milestone in the establishment of "birth citizenship" in the United States.

To this day, the United States still implements the "territorialism principle" in its citizenship.

Zhou Min pointed out, "This right is not only for the Chinese, but also for the entire United States."

  In the early 1940s, after the United States entered World War II, the Chinese in the United States joined the front lines and raised donations for the Red Cross, which played an important role in the United States' victory over Japan.

In modern times, Chinese immigrants have been active in the development of American society, mainly in the fields of education, science and technology.

"The education of the Chinese in the process of their children's growth mostly starts from the professional path, so the Chinese have achieved a lot in professional fields such as the American science and technology community." Zhou Min said.

Racial discrimination: this label is prejudice and arrogance

  Since the outbreak of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the Chinese in North America have been attacked and stigmatized, but the Chinese are still inseparable from various fields in the prevention and control of the local epidemic.

Janelle Wong, a professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of Maryland, once told BBC Chinese. “In the process of organizing assistance to local communities, Chinese Americans have laid the foundation for future participation in civil society, which is expected to increase Social mobilization and attention bring resources."

The Ming State Chinese Physicians Association donated protective materials to local hospitals.

  Zhou Min said that all Americans and Chinese people have been silently dedicated in their own fields, and have no dispute with the world on the legal and social levels.

"Confucian culture emphasizes benevolence, courtesy, and the golden mean. Therefore, Chinese people are influenced by Confucian culture and don't fight against everything. They even have to work twice as hard as others to do their own thing in order to integrate into American culture."

  U.S. Rep. Mike Honda also stated, "Without the contribution of the Chinese, the history of the United States would be completely different. From the arduous construction sites to the interstate railroad connecting our coasts, from philosophy to medical academic contributions, The Chinese have always been an indispensable part of making America great."

  The United States is a country established by immigrants from its origins. In the more than 100 years since Columbus discovered the New World, a large number of Europeans migrated to the Americas.

Since then, the demographic structure of different ethnic groups in American society has gradually formed.

  In 1965, the U.S. Congress passed the "Immigration Law Amendment" (also known as the "Hart Cheler Act"), abolishing the quantitative quota system established by the country of origin of immigrants, setting off a surge of international immigration.

Zhou Min introduced that in the United States, Chinese and Filipino Americans are the two largest groups of Asians, followed by India, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan and more than 20 other Asian origin countries.

  Zhou Min also introduced that since the affirmative movement in the 1960s, ethnic identities proposed by ethnic minority groups, such as "Asian Americans", are very inclusive and have strong political overtones. They are all ethnic groups. The political organization of the group is maintained and respected.

The ethnic identity sign was proposed to deny the term “Oriental” that Westerners impose on Asians with contemptuous connotations.

  "Nowadays, globalization and the rise of Asia have made American society see Asian Americans as immigrants''foreigners'." Zhou Min pointed out that many prejudices and stereotypes of Asians in history are still pervasive in modern American society.

  Zhou Min believes that the unfairness faced by Chinese as one of the Asian ethnic groups stems from ideological challenges at the macro level. This ideological difference has become prominent when China continues to grow stronger and compete with China and the United States.

"American society is more susceptible to the influence of public opinion. This kind of public opinion influence not only comes from the mainstream media, but is also directly influenced by the ideology at the national level."

  On the traditional level, discrimination and misunderstanding of Chinese Americans are also influenced by the historical racial system of the United States.

"The American people's ideology of race is always white supremacy, and they still believe that people of color are always inferior to white people." Zhou Min said that although American society recognizes the outstanding performance of Chinese Americans, Chinese Americans are still considered not strong enough.

"They feel that the excellence of the Chinese is entirely due to hard work and diligence to make up for the weaknesses, not because of racial superiority."

China and the United States should promote non-governmental exchanges. Chinese should "go to the countryside and follow the customs"

  "Now society is gradually opening up. Although legal racial discrimination has been abolished, invisible and structural racial discrimination still exists." Zhou Min said frankly that the system and concept of racial stratification in the United States have been long-standing and it is not easy to change. "Yellow skin" would be considered a "foreigner".

"For the second and third generation of Chinese children born and raised here, it is difficult and unfair to constantly prove that they are American." Zhou Min said.

  Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, once told the BBC Chinese website that the Chinese community has become more cohesive due to the common culture and current racism.

But historically, citizen participation and contribution to society have not reduced the deep-rooted racism against Asian Americans or other minorities.

On February 27, local time, hundreds of people participated in a rally against discrimination against Asians in San Mateo, San Francisco Bay Area.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

  Zhou Min believes that “it takes time to change something deeply ingrained, at least two generations.” She pointed out that nowadays, the Chinese community has developed in American society for a long time. As a native American, and taking the advantage of Chinese culture to participate in society, she pointed out. The second generation of Chinese has risen.

At the same time, American society has made great awakenings and leaps towards racial issues after the affirmative movement in 1960.

  How to solve the problem in the face of discrimination, Zhou Min pointed out that Chinese groups must speak out in unity and promote political participation.

"In American society, the Chinese have to continue to speak up and let the public understand them, and then they will slowly recognize it. The Chinese are a member of the local society and may bring even greater achievements to the development of American society."

  The increased awareness of political participation in the Chinese community will also affect American politics, improve Sino-US relations and enhance the status of Chinese.

Zhou Min said, “It is very necessary to promote the political participation and political awakening of the Chinese people in the United States. Now the Chinese community is awakening and is actively speaking on the political level.”

  Strengthening China-U.S. non-governmental cultural exchanges and two-way exchanges is another effective way.

"The fate of Chinese Americans is closely related to Sino-U.S. relations. If the relationship between the two countries does not improve, the Chinese will be negatively affected at all levels. Whether Chinese immigrants can be treated fairly in the United States is the key. Ideological issues can be set aside between China and the United States. Open the'channel' from the exchange of folk culture and truly understand each other." Zhou Min said.

  "For example, language and cultural institutions like Confucius Institutes have had a very obvious and positive effect on American society’s understanding of Chinese culture. Language and cultural exchanges can play a very important role. Many Americans and even people around the world are interested in Chinese. I am also passionate about Chinese culture.” At the same time, Zhou Min also believes that folk culture and tourism exchanges are very important.

"Many Americans come to China, and 90% of them will deepen their good impression of China by looking at it for themselves."

  From a legal point of view, Chinese Americans, as American citizens, should naturally integrate into American culture and "go to the countryside as they do."

Zhou Min said that in the United States, about 5.3 million people are of Chinese descent, and 75% of them are American citizens.

Because of their Chinese characteristics and cultural background, Chinese Americans integrate into the local mainstream society, which is conducive to creating the integration of the diverse American society.

"Each culture does not have a high or low level, and it must contribute to society."

On February 3, local time, at the entrance of a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, San Francisco, USA.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

  Chinese culture has also enriched the diverse culture of American society. For example, Chinese food has enriched American food culture.

"In a Chinese restaurant, the business philosophy of Chinese and Western fusion will be a successful example." Zhou Min once wrote in an article. In the past 40 years, with the rapid growth of the Chinese American and Chinese immigrant population, the American society has experienced rapid growth. With the changes, the social and economic status of the Chinese continues to improve, and the process of integrating the Chinese into the mainstream society and the process of maintaining ethnic characteristics and cultural traditions are harmonious and not contradictory.

  "The key is to reverse the local society's perception of ethnic Chinese as'foreigners', integration of ethnic Chinese into mainstream society, and separation from minority identity tags," said Zhou Min.