On Combating Sinophobia While Maintaining An Anti-Revisionist Line
Sinophobia, or fear of China and things coming from China, has been a problem since Chinese immigrants started coming to the United States in the mid 19th century. European settlers saw the Chinese as competition for “their” jobs (in industries built by Chinese workers!), and organized themselves to indulge in brutal violence and massacres. This was the activity of many of the earliest unions in the United States. In cities and mining camps across the stolen West, settlers drove away Chinese immigrants (or massacred them) to steal their mining claims and expropriate their property. Eventually a bill was passed forbidding further Chinese immigration (backed by the Knights of Labor). Theoretician J. Sakai writes in Settlers:
The passage of the 1882 Act was taken as a “green-light”, a “go-ahead” signal of approval to immigrant European labor from Congress, the White House and the majority of Euro-Amerikans. It was taken as a license to kill, a declaration of open looting season on Chinese. Terrance Powderly, head of the Knights of Labor (which boasted that it had recruited Afrikan workers to help European labor) praised the victory of the Exclusion Act by saying that now the task for trade unionists was to finish the job — by eliminating all Chinese left in the U.S within the year!(36)
The settler propaganda kept emphasizing how pure, honest Europeans had no choice but “defend” themselves against the dark plots of the Chinese. Wanting to seize (“annex”) Chinese jobs and small businesses, European immigrants kept shouting that they were only “defending” themselves against the vicious Chinese who were trying to steal the white man’s jobs! And in case any European worker had second thoughts about the coming lynch mob, a constant ideological bombardment surrounded him by trade union and “socialist” leaders, bourgeois journalists, university professors and religious figures, politicians of all parties, and so on. Having decided to “annex” the fruits of the Chinese development of the Northwest, the usual settler propaganda about “defending” themselves was put forth.
In the 20th Century, the “yellow peril” myth was used to expropriate Japanese farmers from their lands in California and Hawaii, using the fact that the United States was at war with the Japanese Empire. Of course, the fact that many of these Japanese were second/third generation was ignored by land-hungry settlers. Chinese in the US were forced to wear placards and buttons stating that they were not Japanese to avoid violence and abuse from settlers. After WWII, the liberation of the Chinese mainland by the Chinese people led by their Communist Party resurrected the fear in the minds of settler Americans and Chinese people once again fell under harassment and suspicion as being Communists. Travel to China was forbidden and those who supported the Chinese Revolution and New China in any form were forced before Congressional committees, blacklisted from jobs, booted from academic positions, and generally tormented. William Hinton, author of Fanshen, The Great Reversal, and other good primary sources stemming from his years of work alongside the Chinese people as they made revolution and built socialism, had his papers seized upon his return to the United States. In essence, most of the modern day fear of China and Chinese people stems from the fact that they were a massive thorn in the side of Yankee, Japanese, and European imperialism, and served as a beacon of light for the world’s people.
Fast forward to 2021. China is no longer a socialist country, it is a social imperialist superpower that suppresses the masses within the PRC while eagerly trapping countries in the Third World with debt and eating up the land of neighboring countries. Revisionists are cynically tying the inter-imperialist conflict between the United States and China to the upsurge in chauvinist attacks on Chinese people within the United States, most egregiously displayed in the massacre of 8 women, 6 of whom were Asian, on Tuesday in Atlanta. The murderer, Robert Long, expressed violent anti-Asian sentiment which culminated in the attack. The bourgeois media wasted no time talking about the killer “having a bad day” and talking about issues in his personal life. Bourgeois media purposefully hides the class and national implications and causes of acts, and seeks to break Europeans down to “troubled individuals” while tarring Asian, Black, Latinx and other people with a wide and dirty brush. The revisionists, who still promote the myth of “Socialism With Chinese Characteristics” and absurdly claim that all Chinese people are representatives and supporters of the revisionist CCP, claim that the root cause of these attacks is the inter-imperialist saber-rattling.
The saber-rattling, ramped up under Trump with his racist provocations around the COVID-19 pandemic and continued by Biden with fresh sanctions, undoubtedly plays a role, but it is not the root cause of this upsurge in violence. It’s already been shown how anti-Chinese and anti-Asian violence in general has existed in the United States since the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from Asia in the 19th century. The revisionists use these attacks and xenophobia as a cudgel against Maoists claiming that we are somehow responsible for the xenophobic attacks by correctly critiquing China as a social-imperialist country (ignoring that the theory of social-imperialism was worked out first by Lenin and then applied by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party to criticize the USSR during the socialist period!) and have blood on our hands.
This is absurd. The Maoist position on these attacks is that they are the continued expression of all-American xenophobia and hatred of non-white people. This is the same country that lynched New Afrikan people, committed acts of genocide against Indigenous people, and spread war all over the world to seize markets and land. It is essential that Communists go among the people not to drum up support for the social-imperialist PRC but to organize self-defense collectives to combat racist attacks and harassment. The Maoist prescription for xenophobic violence is to arm and train the people, not to engage in revisionist geopolitics. It is essential that we do not abandon our principles or fail to correctly sum up phenomena. We must combat sinophobia by exposing the sources of hatred of Chinese and Asian people. This can be done without being agents of PRC social imperialism. The revisionist CCP is not representative of the millions of Chinese people who are oppressed and exploited by billionaires that have leadership in the CCP. Furthermore, Lenin and Mao taught us that we Communists do not have to take sides in inter-imperialist spats. There is no risk of war danger between the United States and China, just as there was no war danger between the USSR and the US. The theory of “peaceful coexistence” is shared by revisionists nationally and internationally. Furthermore, imperialists, social and otherwise, have too much capital tied up in each other to engage in open wars. The US invests in China, and China invests in the US. The masses continue to be exploited, beaten, and abused all over the world. Revolution must continue to be on the agenda and actively struggled towards by all Communists.