(East Ask) Exclusive | Zhuang Guotu: Chinese Americans, do you need a belated "apology"?

  China News Service, Beijing, April 29. Title: Zhuang Guotu: Chinese Americans, do you need a belated "apology"?

  China News Agency reporter Wan Shuyan

Zhuang Guotu.

Photo courtesy of me

  The phenomenon of racial discrimination in American society is deeply ingrained.

Since 2020, discrimination against Asians in the United States has intensified, and hatred and violence against Asians have erupted in various places.

What are the underlying reasons why the United States discriminates against Asians?

In the face of the stubborn disease of racial discrimination in American society, how should the Chinese ethnic group solve the problem?

Zhuang Guotu, a lecture professor at Huaqiao University and a special-appointed professor at Xiamen University, recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Service on "Questions about East and West" to give an in-depth interpretation.

Data map: On April 4, local time, an anti-hate Asian parade was held in New York.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Liao Pan

Reporter from China News Service: In the "A Brief History of Overseas Chinese in the World" you edited, you said that for a long time, generations of overseas Chinese have created their own business in a difficult environment far away from their homeland. It has also made important contributions to the economic and social development of the country in which it lives.

What stages did the Chinese American community go through?

What is the future direction?

  Zhuang Guotu: The stage of development of the Chinese American community in the United States is obvious. Large-scale immigration to the United States began in the mid-19th century.

Chinese immigration to the United States can be divided into four stages.

  The first stage was from 1848 to 1882, when Chinese American workers gradually changed from being popular to being excluded and expelled.

  In the mid-nineteenth century, the United States discovered gold mines, and the world, including Chinese, poured into the United States to search for gold.

Compared with working in Southeast Asia and other places, the United States has higher wages and a large number of Chinese went to the United States. From 1848 to 1860, there were more than 20,000 Chinese workers in the California gold mines alone.

  In 1863, the United States began to build the Pacific Railway and recruited a large number of Chinese workers to the United States.

In the four years from 1865 to 1869, more than 14,000 Chinese workers went to the United States to build railways, accounting for 90% of the total number of workers.

The Chinese are hard-working, smart and capable, and have made great contributions to the improvement of American transportation and the prosperity of the western American economy.

Data map: Huagong is repairing a railway in the United States.

Screenshot from CCTV News

  In 1868, the Qing government and the United States signed the Pu Anchen Treaty. China and the United States cross-recognized that citizens of the two countries have the right to voluntarily immigrate to each other's country.

The treaty protects the rights and interests of the foreigners of the other side in both directions, so Chinese workers have legal status in the local area during this period.

  But the Chinese workers soon began to be marginalized.

In 1871, there was a tragedy in Los Angeles where 17 Chinese were killed by white gangsters during riots.

At that time, the railway had been repaired, gold mines were beginning to dry up, and job opportunities were becoming fewer and fewer, but the Chinese were very diligent. They either moved to farms, worked in the service industry, opened restaurants, and made a living on their own.

However, the local white immigrants at the bottom believed that the Chinese robbed their jobs. Since 1870, various anti-Chinese incidents began to occur.

  The second stage was the anti-Chinese period from 1882 to 1943.

At that time, the global economy, including the United States, fell into a cyclical recession, and the anti-Chinese sentiment was even higher.

On May 6, 1882, the U.S. government promulgated the Chinese Exclusion Act. This is the first immigration law passed by the United States for specific ethnic groups. The bill stipulates that Chinese laborers employed as miners are prohibited from entering the United States within ten years. Imprisoned or deported.

Since then, the number of Chinese in the United States has begun to decrease.

  The 1906 San Francisco earthquake triggered a fire. The record files of the San Francisco city government were burned. A large number of Chinese people whose files were burnt acquired American citizenship. Not only were they not excluded from the Chinese Exclusion Act, they could also enter and exit freely, and they could also enjoy being born in the United States. Children from abroad have the right to immigrate to the United States, and there is no quota limit. During this period, a group of Chinese entered the United States.

Data map: On May 10, 2019 local time, the "Golden Spike Festival" commemorating the 150th anniversary of the connection of the Pacific Interstate Railroad in the United States was held in Salt Lake City, the United States.

The organizers paid tribute to the Chinese workers who have travelled across oceans and participated in the construction of intercontinental railways in various links.

The picture shows actors dressed as Chinese railway workers performing on stage.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

  The third stage is the period of discrimination from 1943 to 1965.

The Second World War changed the fate of the Chinese in the United States.

During the Second World War, there were about 13,000 Chinese who participated in the war, accounting for 17% of the total number of Chinese in the United States.

The outstanding performance of the Chinese after joining the army has alleviated the long-standing notion of discrimination against Chinese in the US political circles and civilians.

  On December 17, 1943, President Roosevelt signed some important bills, including the abolition of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The first was to abolish the Chinese Exclusion Act. The second was to give China a quota of 105 immigrants each year. The third was to allow legal entry into the United States. Of Chinese became American citizens.

It can be said that the abolition of the "Chinese Exclusion Act" was a bloody struggle for Chinese Americans.

Coupled with the implementation of the 1945 Veterans Spouse Reunion Act (5,000 Chinese wives accompanying the army), the door of the United States was once again opened to the Chinese.

  But before 1965, serious racial discrimination still existed in American society. People of color, including Chinese, as well as non-Anglo-Saxon whites (immigrants from Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, etc.) would also be subject to a certain degree of racial discrimination. Discrimination.

  At that time, the United States was still a racially discriminatory society under a clear legal system. The 1921 Immigration Act and the 1924 Immigration Act passed successively, the core of which was the immigration quota system. Germany, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, which had the highest quotas, received more than 90%. Quotas to maintain the existing ethnicity, religion, and country of origin of the U.S. population.

  The decisive change in the status of Chinese in American society began with the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

This campaign, with opposition to racial discrimination as its core content, received support and response from most white people in the United States, and achieved success.

On July 2, 1964, the U.S. Civil Rights Act was signed into force, stipulating that American companies and schools must not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, etc.

  The fourth stage is from 1965 to the present, entering a period of rapid immigration.

In 1965, the United States passed the "Immigration and Nationality Act" to abolish the immigration quota system and implemented a "first come, first served" policy, stipulating that the total number of immigrants in the Eastern Hemisphere countries each year is 170,000 and each country cannot exceed 20,000.

The 1976 amendment went a step further and eliminated the immigrant differences between the eastern and western hemispheres, and stipulated that each country's annual immigration quota should not exceed 20,000.

As a result, racial discrimination in the U.S. legal system was completely abolished, ushering in the most relaxed period of immigration policy in U.S. history.

  Only then has the Chinese really started the period of large-scale influx into the United States.

Especially after the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States in 1979, the number will double every 10 years. By 2020, there are about 5.5 million overseas Chinese in the United States. They are not only from mainland China, but also from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and other places.

The Chinese can enjoy the same rights as other races in terms of system and law.

  Since 1965, the overseas Chinese who have immigrated to the United States are mainly divided into two categories. One is unskilled laborers. Most of them entered the United States through family reunions and engaged in catering, decoration, groceries and other service industries, but most of their next generations enjoy Higher education; one is study abroad and investment immigration, their education level is very high, a large number of professional and technical talents and business talents have emerged.

  In general, Chinese in the United States bear hardships and stand hard work, are smart and hardworking, earn higher incomes than whites, and have a higher average education level than whites.

However, if the Chinese want to develop into a higher class, they will meet the ceiling in both business and politics. This stems from the hidden racial discrimination in American society and is deeply rooted.

To break through this ceiling, the Chinese must maintain their diligent and thrifty habits and continue to strengthen their economic strength in order to have a say.

Data map: On April 4, local time, an anti-hate Asian parade was held in New York.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Liao Pan

China News Service: The United States is a country of immigrants, but why is racial discrimination so serious?

What are the underlying reasons for discrimination against Asians?

  Zhuang Guotu: The United States has always been a country full of racial discrimination. It has been deeply rooted for more than 200 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China and has never undergone fundamental changes.

  The Protestants of the Anglo-Saxon race landed on the American continent in the 16th century. They not only plundered land and resources, but also massacred the local Indians on a large scale. They regarded Indians as "inferior peoples". This is more than racial discrimination, but genocide. behavior.

Later, American Indians were driven into Indian reservations. Today, Indians only account for about 1% of the total population of the United States.

  The American elite is dominated by whites of the Anglo-Saxon race. They discriminate against all "non-self races". In addition to discriminating against people of color, they also discriminate against whites of non-Anglo-Saxon and non-German races, including the Mediterranean coast, southern Europe, Eastern Europe, White people in Arabia and other regions.

As long as they are different from their religion and race, they are all within the scope of their hostility or discrimination to varying degrees.

  Before 1965, the United States clearly promoted racial discrimination in the form of an explicit organization.

The American Civil Rights Movement allowed this explicit racial discrimination system to be abolished, but the implicit racial discrimination has never been reduced.

  American society believes that Anglo-Saxons are the mainstream nation in the United States. They have an inherent sense of superiority and mission. The freedom, equality, and human rights they talk about are divided into several levels, and only people of their own race can enjoy it. The so-called "American spirit" of full democracy, freedom, and equality, they firmly believe that their beliefs, systems, and logic are correct, and those who are different from them are not correct.

  In the United States, religion has strengthened the color of racial discrimination.

They believe in Protestantism, have a sense of mission, and believe that they have the obligation to recommend their own ideas and beliefs to others. This is a rooted sense of racial discrimination and inequality. They regard themselves as God’s messengers and bear The mission of educating others.

  All fields in the United States are in the hands of the elite. The Federal Reserve report shows that in 2020 the top 1% and 10% of the richest population in the United States will account for 30.5% and 69% of all household wealth, respectively, while the poorest 50% will only account for all. 1.9% of household wealth, and this gap is accelerating.

  The new round of discrimination and persecution of Chinese Americans in the United States is the result of multiple contradictions.

In addition to traditional ethnic conflicts, there are economic and class conflicts.

Chinese are generally considered to have much better economic conditions than blacks, and they are questioned "Why do you live so well in the United States? I came hundreds of years earlier but lived worse than you." In the long run, the conflict between Chinese and blacks cannot be avoided. , Maybe even more important.

  In addition, the United States has ideological prejudices, and all-out Sino-US conflicts will also be projected on the Chinese.

The Trump era provoked trade friction between China and the United States, and the new crown epidemic has aggravated the tension in Sino-US relations and the US society’s antipathy towards the Chinese.

The United States now regards China as its main threat and adversary. Some politicians accuse China of using the "united front" to implement "infiltration." The competition between countries will bring disaster to the people of the two countries.

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

The initiator of the rally, 13-year-old local Chinese junior high school student Su Kaiying expressed the hope that people of all ethnic groups will unite and oppose hate crimes against Asians.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

China News Agency reporter: The US government promulgated the Chinese Exclusion Act at the end of the 19th century, which regarded racial discrimination against Chinese descent as legal.

After nearly 60 years of this bill, it seriously violated the spirit of the U.S. Constitution that defended human rights.

Some people say that this bill is the darkest page in the history of American immigration, and Roosevelt also called it a "historical error."

In 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Chinese Exclusion Act apology case unanimously. How effective do you think the apology is?

Has the living conditions of Chinese Americans improved in the United States?

  Zhuang Guotu: In any case, the US government's public apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act is worthy of recognition, and it has played a positive role in the survival and development of Chinese Americans in the United States.

  But this positive effect is quite limited.

An apology is just a stopgap measure.

Because Obama wanted to fight for re-election at that time, many votes came from ethnic minorities. He valued Chinese votes. Therefore, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Chinese Exclusion Act" apology case. This move also increased the goodwill of black Americans and Mexicans towards Obama, in order to win The ballots have a positive effect.

  In fact, the apology has not fundamentally changed the discrimination against Chinese Americans in the United States, and the sincerity and strength are not enough.

An apology should be linked with compensation. The United States has long had a precedent for compensation to other minorities. The United States has provided large-scale compensation to black Americans in the form of expensive social programs, such as the "Affirmative Rights Act."

  From 2012 to 2017 before Trump came to power, racial discrimination in the United States was relatively weak during this period, and Sino-U.S. relations developed steadily during the Obama era. Cooperation in various fields between China and the U.S. was in full swing. Chinese Americans played an important role in this and made many achievements. , Chinese Americans are also actively participating in politics and are highly recognized in American society.

The condition of Chinese Americans living in the United States is directly related to Sino-US relations.

Better relations between China and the United States will make life easier for the people of the two countries.

Data map: Congressman Zhao Meixin (fourth from right), who promoted the passage of the "Anti-Chinese Exclusion Law", took a group photo with representatives of various organizations.

(Photo by U.S. "World Journal"/Lin Baoqing)

China News Service: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the combined effects of "black fate" and political power changes in the United States have led to a surge in hatred of Asian Americans in the United States.

Do you think that Chinese Americans still need an "apology case"?

  Zhuang Guotu: Fortunately, on April 22, local time, the U.S. Senate passed a 94-1 overwhelming vote and passed a bill aimed at addressing Asian hate crimes-the "New Crown Hate Crimes Act."

Significant progress has been made in the legislative action against Asians in hatred.

  However, the phenomenon of discrimination against Asians has not stopped there, and discrimination is difficult to dissipate in the short term.

The U.S. government regards China as its main strategic competitor, which has led to a growing dislike of Chinese Americans in American society in recent years, but Chinese Americans still have to strive for their rights.

China News Agency reporter: In the face of the persistent racial discrimination in American society, how do you think the Chinese ethnic group should solve the problem?

  Zhuang Guotu: For a long time, ethnic Chinese have been more vulnerable to harm than other ethnic minorities, and this is also due to the Chinese themselves.

Chinese Americans are very hardworking, have a higher income, and live a happy life, but they are always low-key and unwilling to make trouble.

In addition, they also paid little attention to legal weapons.

  In the face of an attack, what should the Chinese do?

The most important thing is that the Chinese must find ways to protect their rights.

First, you must resort to the law to protect yourself.

What is worthy of recognition is that in recent years, the Chinese have gradually begun to seek anti-discrimination and anti-attack through legal channels, and to generate deterrence through laws.

  Secondly, the Chinese community must be bloody, daring to rise up, and resolutely safeguard the safety of themselves, their families, and communities by all means permitted by law.

You can learn how other ethnic minorities defend their rights, such as Koreans. When they defend their rights, whether individuals or groups, they appear very firm and bloody.

Chinese Americans must also be determined to protect their own safety and the safety of the community.

  Chinese Americans must coordinate and unite to establish a community joint defense mechanism and an early warning mechanism.

If everyone only swept the snow in front of their own door, then the deterrence would not be great.

The Chinese should establish an early warning mechanism to promote the linkage effect between families and communities. If a Chinese is attacked, the mechanism can be used to mobilize other compatriots to jointly defend.

  Chinese embassies and consulates abroad should step up efforts to protect overseas compatriots. They can guide compatriots to establish joint defense mechanisms in communities where Chinese gather, and urge the local police system to take effective measures to protect Chinese.

You can refer to the Chinese police-civilian cooperation center established in South Africa. The police-civilian joint defense mechanism can help protect the rights and interests of the Chinese.


  Zhuang Guotu, Chair Professor of Huaqiao University, Distinguished Professor of Xiamen University.

He also served as the president of the China Southeast Asian Association and the vice president of the Chinese Overseas Chinese Studies Association. His research interests include overseas Chinese, Southeast Asia, international relations, and ocean development.

Since 2001, he has published nearly 80 Chinese, English, and Japanese papers in important academic journals at home and abroad, published 5 monographs, and won 16 national, provincial and ministerial awards, including 4 first prizes.

It has undertaken 16 key research projects above the provincial and ministerial level, including the National Social Key Fund Projects, the Major Commissioned Projects of the Ministry of Education, and 16 international academic funds.