Sinophobia in the Rise of China  - Session 2

  • 2022-11-16
  • Cindy

Event Title: Sinophobia in the Rise of China 
Session two - Transcending Cultural and National Hegemonies from East to Southeast Asia


時間 Time:9:00-18:00

地點 Venue:陽明交通大學人社三館 R103 室 R103 HA Building 3, NYCU, 1001 University Road, Hsinchu, Taiwan 300 (線上 zoom meeting 與現場同步進行)




活動鏈接LinkInternational Center for Cultural Studies - 文化研究國際中心 (nycu.edu.tw)

Author: Monika Verma (Ph.D. candidate, NYCU, Taiwan; contact: moniletit@gmail.com) 

Table of Content 


Yoshihisa Amae, Waseda University (Japan), Center for International Reconciliation Studies

         The Evolution of Chinese Racism in Japan: From Yellow Peril to Kenchū (嫌中) 

Kevin Carrico, Monash University (Australia), Chinese Studies Research Unit

         Sinophobia -phobia: How a Readymade Critique of the Risks of Hong Kong Nationalism Overlooks its Insights into the Risks of Chinese Nationalism 

Filip Kraus, Palacky University (Czech Republic), Sinophone Borderlands Project

     Sinophobia, National Sentiment and Politics in Vietnam  



To put it simply, it could be said that a negative attitude toward China, Chinese people, or Chinese culture can be categorized as 'anti-Chinese sentiment,' known as 'Sinophobia.' There is no doubt that Sinophobia isn't a new phenomenon; it has a long history, is constructed discursively from time to time, and can be observed globally, such as United States, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Countries are more serious about China's policies on human rights, military power, economic competition with China, and China's involvement in domestic politics in their own country. The talks,  presented at a workshop held  at  HA Building 3, NYCU, and chaired by Prof. Joyce C. H. Liu, engaged in a  discussion about Sinophobia from East to Southeast Asia by taking the examples of Japan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam as case studies by scholars. These three cases are the follow-up of the discussion of session one, which was opened by Prof. Alain Brossat and Prof. Allen Chun, where they discussed what is in and behind the concept of Sinophobia and its politics.  


Yoshihisa Amae, Waseda University (Japan), Center for International Reconciliation Studies

The Evolution of Chinese Racism in Japan: From Yellow Peril to Kenchū (嫌中)

Yoshihisa Amae started the workshop's second session with a fundamental question: what is Sinophobia from the Japanese perspective? And what is the translation of Sinophobia? According to him, "Sinophobia" in Japan is "a fairly new construct as a result of the end of Cold War" and has been translated as Kenchū (嫌中). There is a global Sinophobia or 'fear' of China. Due to the continuities and discontinuities in Japan-China relations, there has been seen as a 'dislike' or 'apathy,' which can be referred to as Kenchū, towards China by the Japanese Government as in Japanese civil society. He stressed that a large proportion of the Japanese population had developed an unfavorable view of China over the past few years, with the number increasing from 42% to 87% from 2002 to 2022, with the peak being seen in 2013-14. China's rising military power and the dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China sea, which intensified in 2012-2013 due to the nationalization of control over its Islands, are one of the severe problems of contemporary Japan.

While discussing the rising anti-Chinese sentiments in Japan, he also raised several questions, such as Can 'yellow peril' discourse exist in 'yellow' Japan? What are the continuity and discontinuity in the Sinophobia discourse? What are the links between the Japanese version of 'yellow peril' and today's Sinophobia? He tried to be critical in his answers to these questions. From Meiji's restoration, an important factor in Japan's modernization, to imperial japan, the Japanese felt a 'sense of superiority' or 'japan sense of being superior,' which is very much related to the notion of Sinophobia. Amae highlights Allen Chun's argument from session one, where Allen argued, "Sinophobia perhaps revealing more themselves than an actual existential threat." Comparing this notion with the case of Japan, Amae stressed that japan was always perceived to be stronger economically and politically. The rise of china as the second most robust economy in the world is perhaps perceived as 'the hidden injuries' or 'internal anxieties' (in Allen's words) by the Japanese, which is seen in the form of Sinophobia. There was a yellow peril kind of racist oriental discourse in Japan regarding naming Chinese pigs and making fun of them, especially after the Sino-Japanese war. Now it's become more latent. Latent publically, especially in online spaces. If you go on the web, there are a lot of hate speeches and discriminatory comments that can be found. Racism, implicitly or explicitly, is there on the web.   

Yoshihisa Amae argued that the present-day Kenchu (dislike or apathy')/Hanchu (anti-Chinese) is racism which shares the features of 'Yellow Peril' and 'Sinophobia' is a reflection of Japan's anxiety which can be seen in its precarious position in Asia and doubt in its relationship with the US, lackluster politics, and shrinking economy in the face of the existential threat of China. There have been continuations in Japanese yellow peril in today's Sinophobia. He forwarded the discussion by saying there is a sense of 'insecurity' among the Japanese that cannot measure economically. 

As he pointed out several reasons for Sinophobia or fear of China as discussed above, in his concluding remark, he stated that Taiwan's various bold arguments about China warn Japan, in some sense, to be prepared for it. And there are also several Chinese writers in japan feeding that fear of china. These factors, such as a sense of triumph over long competition, resentment, anxiety, hostility, and fear, describe the rise of Sinophobia in Japan. It's not just competition and resentment but also complex.




Kevin Carrico, Monash University (Australia), Chinese Studies Research Unit 

Sinophobia-phobia: How a Readymade Critique of the Risks of Hong Kong Nationalism Overlooks its Insights into the Risks of Chinese Nationalism   

Hong Kong has gone through a period when Sinophobia (anti-Chinese sentiment) has been normalized and has increasingly been accepted as a social norm. The notion of "Sinophobia in Hong Kong," brought up in Carrico's talk, appeals to him in an alluring and sometimes tempting way, not about real practitioners of Sinophobia but its analyst and its critics. His use of the word temptation can be interpreted as either a reference to the sentiments of local Hongkongese or a discussion on who is a citizen and who should be able to receive social security, welfare, or services in light of the pioneering national issues and the openly "othering" aesthetics of Sinophobic narratives in Hong Kong. Carrico wondered about the true intentions behind the Sinophobic sentiments in Hong Kong. What are the real motivations?

A broader understanding of the notion of Sinophobia, he believes, must be dissected within the context of the State's reality and its politics, which is much more complicated than simply the idea of "the rise of China." Several events, such as the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests, show that Hong Kong people generally do not have a great deal of affection for China in general. This dislike or apathy, which is somehow also related to the sense of superiority over China (which can also be seen in Yoshihisa Amae's talks in the case of Japan), is intended by the observers of the sentiments to be categorized as "Sinophobia."  

During Kevin Carrico's talk, he questioned why Hong Kong is used as elevated over China. According to him, the answer to this question is well explained by the structural imaginary of regional hierarchy based on historical incidents. Hong Kong is one of the Asian tigers and is economically developed. There is no doubt that this historical framework continues to shape Hongkongese understating's and narratives about perceived Sinophobia on the territory today. There was also a shift in the conversation from discussing Hong Kong's Sinophobia to criticizing Sinophobia narratives during the discussion. He contended that Sinophobia means "fear china." The reality of Hong Kong's relationship with China is that China remains very much in the dominant position in the region when dealing with colonial rule and illegitimate forms of oppression. Looking at the current reality of whole dynamics, we should acknowledge that this isn't just about Sinophobe, but also about people who have been subjected to unjustifiable forms of oppression.

In his concluding remarks, he mentions that the condemnatory levels of Sinophobia remain challenging thinking of Hong Kong's reality. It is important to note that we need to reflect on how exactly Hong Kong is constructed as Chinese making this Sinophobia "Chinese." He argued the traces of this construction lie in the racialized construction of "Chineseness." As tensions between the political entity of china and the democratic world continue to rise, this racialized construction of Han Chineseness presents a real challenge for people of Chinese descent. Furthermore, he emphasized that rather than focusing on Sinophobia alone, we need to think beyond Sinophobia, which has significant ramifications for understanding phobias within the discussion of Sinophobia. It requires a better theorization of the phobia within the discussion.


Filip Kraus, Palacky University (Czech Republic), Sinophone Borderlands Project

Sinophobia, National Sentiment and Politics in Vietnam

After Japan and Hong Kong, Philip Kraus presents the case of Vietnam in a continuing discussion on 'Sinophobia' as a follow-up to the cases of Japan and Hong Kong. Filip Kraus believes that Sinophobia is always linked in a significant way to politics, which, as we know, comes from national sentiments. Apparently, in the general sense, the elites are perceived to be pro-Chinese in Vietnam. At the same time, ordinary people are viewed as anti-Chinese in their national identity and political identification. He stated that it had led some scholars to call Vietnam a country with "a kind of dissociative national identity disorder." 

What needs to be understood in the case of Vietnam is when the anti-Chinese rhetoric started to emerge among the Vietnamese, and as a result, the Chinese were perceived as 'others.' It can be seen from the history that the Nationally relevant historiography was constructed against Chinese invasions, which were reinforced by the Third Indochina War and the South China Sea dispute. Many cases of anti-Chinese sentiments are expressed at various levels throughout Vietnam. It is always a matter of riots/conflict when the Chinese or the PRC disrupt Vietnam's social and economic life, such as in the Haiyang Shiyou 981 incident (2014) and the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel incident (2016). As Kraus mentioned, in the Haiyang Shiyou 981 incident (2014), the Anti-China protests started in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Can Tho, which quickly spread into Binh Suong and Dong Nai where 16 people were killed, over 100 were injured, and 25 enterprises been seriously damaged and closed. And in the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel incident (2016), 1,000 Vietnamese workers and locals stormed the steel mill, lit fires in several buildings, and hunted down the Chinese workers, where one Chinese was killed, and 90 were injured. Can all incidents be symptoms of Sinophobia? Yes, it is, he answered.  

Towards the end of his presentation, Kraus stated that he agreed with Allen Chun when he said that Sinophobia does not represent a spectacle of prevalent racism but rather indicates a situation where tensions have increased to an extreme level. Kraus argued that Sinophobia is not only a symptom of the imaginative threats but also an indication of existing tensions stemming from various problems with the political economy of Vietnam.   



During the discussion at the end of the workshop, Edward Vickers opened the room while discussing how 'mainstream' western scholarship on contemporary Chinese politics persistently neglected Hong Kong and Taiwan and dismissed the protest movement in Hong Kong. In addition, a lot of work by western sinologists, he contented, implicitly seems to toe the CCP line that contemporary Hong Kong and Taiwan are somehow deviant Chinese societies, with authentic Chineseness only to be found on the communist mainland. 

As part of the discussion, Hanh Nguyen also presented several questions concerning the case of Vietnam that contributed to the discussion. In this context, it is of significant concern to the Vietnamese Government that it faces difficulties in dealing with the CPC when China has always played an essential role in Vietnamese foreign policy. Throughout its history, China has sometimes been an ally. Still, sometimes it has also been a bully toward Vietnam, and now it is even more powerful both regionally and globally thanks to its growing economic power. Considering all of these factors, how do you think these factors affect the Vietnamese Government's position/stance in dealing with China in any way? As a response, Filip Kraus commented that the influence of the CPC in Vietnam has dramatically increased over the past few years, so many Vietnamese politicians today are expressing pro-Chinese ethnocratic tendencies. Further, as stated earlier, though the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Chinese Communist Party are intimate allies, it can also be seen that the Government has a degree of support towards the opinion of the public in Vietnam. So as a consequence, they have to make some consensus on such matters.

As it is explicitly clear that there has been a series of questions posed and raised regarding Sinophobic complexity in all presentations and discussions, there is a need to transcend beyond the complex clusters of phobia discourse, attitude, mentality, rhetoric, and border politics.