Racism in local education and media

I read this quote from wolf_reinhold:

“Foreigners are just not as smart as we Chinese People.”
Yen Ta-jen
Kinmen deputy county commissioner
Quoted in the Taipei Times, June 27, 2001

It got me thinking of something very disturbing that came up between me and my girlfriend a while back. She made some comment about my relatively small head, abundant body-hair and tendency to sweat being simian characteristics. I can’t remember her exact words, but when I questioned her on this, she came out with something like, “Well, you know that you Westerners aren’t as evolved as Asian people.”

Obviously, this set me off. Call me naive, but I was taken aback, and I laid into her with the full barage of propaganda I was instilled with in college, about there being absolutely no difference between one race and another genetically and that all so-called racial differences are cultural, etc.

She, however, insisted that it was a proven fact that Asians are genetically superior. I told her that obviously it was an Asian scientist who had ‘proven’ that fact, to which she retorted that although she saw it on local news, the cited source was CNN! At that point I walked out on her.

Later, she apologized, but told me that she has been taught this kind of stuff her whole life, both in school and by the media, and that it’s a generally-accepted ‘fact’ in Taiwan. I’ve mentioned it to other Taiwanese and have had her statement confirmed by some, denied by others.

What gives? Is it true that such idiotic notions are perpetuated in the Taiwanese media and schools? If so, I rather regret the fact of the US having protected this island for so long from Mainland Chinese invasion. That’s an inflammatory statement, I know, but I’m torqued.

Yes, it is true, and it is everywhere. I was shocked when I first saw it on a little girl’s school bag. It said, “I love Chinese.” Unfortunately, people don’t realize that when you start to “love” one race over another, you forget to love others equally.

Surprisingly, the same goes with many, many ABCs who have claimed to be victims of white prejudice over the years in their stays abroad. They can get as bad as the locals, or even worse since one would think they should know better.

Racism is a kind of deficiency that has affected the human condition for God knows how long. It’s a factor we all have to deal with and when a person is taken out of the majority culture and set in the minority, this fact becomes apparent.

Chinese chauvanism is rampant and very annoying. I once saw a Chinese sports poster of an American football player crouched over on the defense. His Darwinian “evolution” was into an upright soccer player and was facilitated by a series of hunched-over apes. “The Evolution of Football”?

Being the Ugly American is sometimes warranted to face these insulting antics of Ugly Chinese.

Originally posted by Vay: Is it true that such idiotic notions are perpetuated in the Taiwanese media and schools? If so, I rather regret the fact of the US having protected this island for so long from Mainland Chinese invasion...

China is much, much worse than Taiwan in this respect. They mask a cultural/national inferiority complex with a national culture of victimization and call it patriotism. To hear the Chinese tell it, you’d think the whole world had it in for them.

Pro-football anti-Soccer fan: I’ve seen the Football evolution T-shirt. I loved it. I think it had it’s origins in the states, not here. Had an ex girlfriend that wore it to tease me. Her credibility was lost as she only like soccer cuz the guys wear shorts and have long wavy hair.

Not sure about indoctrinated Chinese superiority here. Most of the scuffles I’ve had on this subject have lead me to believe that some Chinese have a major sense of inferiority and this manifests itself in attacks against other races.

Why would people feel superior? This is a third world country don’t forget, and fifty years ago people were mostly farmers right? Or am I wrong about this?

You can change the appearance of people in Taiwan and China but it takes much, much longer to change the character.

Get real folks.

fresh and free:

Actually, Taiwan is not a third-world country. I think we’d all agree that Taiwan is very much developed.

An interesting point is that 80 years ago all of my grandparents were farmers. So was my mother. I really don’t think that has as much to do with it as the following:

I’m of the opinion that the whole superiority/inferiority idea comes about when people live in a relatively homogenous or closed society.
Japan, for instance, is an extremely racist country (from what I read and hear from friends). It’s not out of malice (usually) but rather from a lack of exposure to other races/cultures. For hundreds of years Japan was culturally isolated from the rest of the world, so there’s been no one to oppose the idea that they’re different from the other “races”. People that appear strange and unfamiliar on the surface are thought to be different on the inside as well, usually because they haven’t had time to recognize the similarities.

In many countries throughout the world there have been clashes of cultures. In the better countries, these clashes over time help enlighten the people involved. I hope that this is what’s happening in the developed Asian countries (including Taiwan).

I hope for a more enlightened Taiwan.

And that the children stop laughing when they see how my knuckles drag on the ground when I walk.

It would be easy to say that Chinese, or at least many of them, are ethnocentric and look down on other peoples and cultures. To some extent I think that this is missing the point, although not by much.
The introduction of the “foreigner” into Chinese society is a relatively new phenomenon. Fifty years ago, few foreigners were in China and those that were, were most likely missionaries. The Chinese do not have a sense of internationalism nor do they have much experience with accepting “deviant” behavior from the Chinese norm such as alien cultures and peoples might introduce.
For this reason, Chinese do not have a sense of competing with other peoples; rather, they feel that other peoples simply don’t matter because they are not Chinese.
How many times have you heard a variation of these? “You don’t understand because you are not Chinese?” “This is the Chinese way of doing things.”
It isn’t necessarily that the foreign way of doing something is wrong or inferior, but it is irrelevant – it has no bearing on established protocol and procedures. It doesn’t matter that a certain situation has been encountered and dealt with in 100 other cultures; for the Chinese it is a unique situation to be dealt with in the Chinese way.
Chinese don’t readily learn from other cultures because they deny that anything other than Chinese is relevant to them.
The effect of this is a projection of cultural superiority. This is what can drive foreign workers mad when they see Chinese management doing what to them are exactly the wrong things. The same Chinese management does not come out and say directly that the foreigners’ ideas are incorrect, they will simply ignore them and do what they think is right for them – even though the situation has been routinely addressed successfully in a Western country many times over, for example.
The Chinese love to try and reinvent the wheel since it wasn’t invented in China and, therefore, the Chinese version of the wheel must be unique from all others in the world. If the wheel has square edges, so be it.

I’ve always found it interesting watching white folks from America coming to Taiwan and becoming a minority. They get a real feel for what it’s like, and many go back being more aware and sensitive of the cultural diversity in their own country. Unfortunately, though, a lot of people are still blind to the racism that still exists in America. I can’t tell you how many white folks have said they look down on Blacks that live together in communities (or ghettos, as they’re often defined as), while they say they think a lot of Blacks that have integrated into “their” society. Folks like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice. What they really mean are Blacks who have integrated into “White” society.

I have the utmost respect for Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, but those black Americans that cling to their roots and cultures are usually generalised as being that “other kind of Black”. The ones that didn’t integrate into “White” culture. That attitude exists far and wide, and Afro-American culture is often regarded as being somehow illigitimate in the context of “American” culture. I’d like to believe that American culture is the ability of people from different cultures, races and backgrounds to be able to unite in an unprecedented way. But many areas of the country still think American culture is “White” culture, though they won’t come right out and say it.

Taiwan is still light years behind, in this sense, but they also didn’t force westerners to live here. It’s usually a choice, and the slow path to internationalization isn’t all that surprising to me. If anything ought to be addressed (and it has to some extent), it would be the treatment of the aboriginal people. Nobody asked the Japanese or Chiang Kai Shek to come and eradicate their way of life. And the Native Americans and Africans didn’t ask the white man to eradicate theirs.

I challenge the perception that black culture in American is considered illegitimate. I do not deny that black culture is largely considered economically illegitimate, and that fuels a good deal of superiority/inferiority sentiment.

So is that the case in Taiwan? Are whites held in scorn here because the most of us don’t have a tenth the wealth of the average fruit peddler?

PlacardJoe, you can’t possibly be serious about the post you just made. How can black culture not be considered economically legitimate, and yet still be considered generally legitimate? Isn’t that some kind of paradox? I agree with Mo Joe. The reason that racial tension exists in America is because blacks are expected to conform to mainstream society. That just won’t happen, and until black culture is recognized and respected, there will be no solution to that problem.

Taiwan’s race issues are a lot different, as far as Chinese vs. Westerner goes. For one, the Chinese didn’t import Westerners as slaves, and westerners haven’t ever been forced to live in Taiwan or China. Most Westerners live here of their own free will, and in most cases are here to seek a better personal economic situation. They can go back to their own countries whenever they want to. They’re not Chinese. Blacks in America, on the other hand, are Americans. Why, then, should they be regarded as foreingers? Who defines what American culture and society is? Right now, that job falls to a vast dominance of white men. You can challenge that idea all you want, but those who ignore the fact that black culture is not considered “mainstream”, or at least accepted as legitimate “American” culture, are doing nothing to help the problem.

I certainly don’t mean to discount the situations in which westerners are married to Taiwanese nationals. I, for one, really appreciate what Richard Hartzell is doing to fight for human rights, and believe those rights will end up extending to most foreigners in Taiwan. But I don’t think the Chinese attitude against foreigners (I don’t believe it’s “hate”) is something that’s going to change quickly. The foreign population is still far too small to affect the way people think. But I haven’t found it to be all that bad. I have several really good Chinese friends, and I can assure you they don’t look down on westerners. Just choose who you hang out with carefully, just like anywhere you live.

I am not sure that Chinese on Taiwan can be generally assumed to hate Westerners. I do feel, however, that most Chinese find Westerners curiosity items. I also think that Chinese do not generally respect the ideas and knowledge of foreigners. I have seen time and again Chinese in the workplace treating foreigners as little more than necessary evils whose attitudes are at variance with the “harmony” that the Chinese preach. Do you think, for example, that the Chinese would hire a foreigner to teach English if they didn’t have to? Would they hire foreign translators if they could do the job as well themselves? Engineers? Ad men? Editors?
The Chinese are very tolerant and part of the harmony aspect is looking the other way and turning the other cheek. They may not come right out and say it, but their actions have shown me over the years that foreigners are part chattel, part amusement and part petting zoo animal.

Colin Powell is black? Are you sure?

One thing I must say in defense of North America and perhaps the West in general…its education system produces people like Mo’Joe (may I presume?) by giving them the intellectual razor of criticism and them holding up our own society as the target for this criticism - while at the same time teaching them to be tolerant and open-minded towards other societies and cultures. I’m proud of this because I can’t think of any other culture on earth which attempts to teach its citizens to think this way…

I know for a fact that at least some kids here are taught at home that other “races” are inferior. Some kids will actually make a face, say “eeeewwww”, and express disgust when they see a picture of a black person. Nowadays this is usually accompanied by them saying “Bin Laden” over and over. Unbelievable. Sad. Ridiculous.

Most people would agree that racism results from(among other things) insecurity.

My absurdly simple theory on the case in point:

In Chinese men, insecurity stems from the small ***** complex (for which there is definitely a basis).

Women here may be racist, but it’s rare to find one that will actually speak up and express her views one way or another. Most women prefer to just reflect the opinions/attitudes of the men they are around. If anything, their racism is passive.

The paradox is that Western culture (as developed by such inferior people)is something that so many Chinese aspire to.

From my expriences as a tutor teaching to 1st generation abc’s I have experienced many of the things mentioned about above. Most Chinese families that I tutored for would not allow me to teach math, I figured it was that just so the students could concentrate on English skills. Yet, I was to discover that it said by Chinese that Americans don’t know math and prefer to hire Chinese/Asian tutors. Wether this is racism or a generalization I don’t know but I take offence to this when I had 750 math score on my SAT’s. Later I was to hear other remarks that belittle American/western culture. Yet I noticed that it varies from individual to individual.
But to be fair, things that caucasians say about Asians/Chineses seem to stem from the same sources. I noticed that both cultures tend to have a hierarchy of races which are superior. For example I noticed that Caucasians and Asian both looked down Blacks, Hispanics and others. Yet curiously enough the trend in the U.S. is to think as all whites whether Irish, Russian or Jewish as the same, while a Chinese person would think a Korean or Japanese person as completely different race. Perhaps I am somewhat immune because I do not think of myself as of any race.

Just some observations


Correct me if I am wrong here but I believe that according to the study of ETHNOLOGY, the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Mongolians, etc. are all part of an Oriental race. In other words, they are all the same race.

Also, from the point of view of medicine, there are only four blood types: A, B, AB, O.

However, if you tell a Chinese or Taiwanese person that he is the same race (and same blood type) as a Japanese or Korean, he/she would probably attack you with a club. At the least it would be an argument that could last for weeks.

As to why a citizen here in the ROC takes exception to your remarks, as one of the previous visitors to this thread stated: “It is what they have been taught since childhood.”

Truth is stranger than fiction, ladies and gentlemen. Also, I would point out (and I am 100% serious) my son is 12 years old and is residing in Taiwan on a USA passport, and has no Taiwanese passport or Taiwanese ID number. He is registered in elementary school, with the National Health Insurance program, and on Taiwanese census records as a USA citizen. My wife and I received a notice from the court today informing us that he is Taiwanese!!!

And there is no documentation to prove that whatsoever!!! So, in terms of evolution, and what person is what race, or what nationality, I also agree that the ROC government and citizenry has some very peculiar notions!!

(Are we going to appeal? Yes, definitely.)

There is no such thing as an ‘oriental race’. Scientists used to classify ‘races’ into 5 or so major groups like oriental, caucasian, negroid etc, but these theories and indeed the concept of ‘race’ itself has long since been thouroughly discredited by scientists.


I just read some stuff about comparative education tests. I’m really curious how Taiwan would fit in. It wasn’t included in this test:
Neither was Hong Kong or Singapore. But of the four top performing countries in math and science two (Japan and Korea) were Asian. The others were New Zealand and Finland.

That’s not completely true. Race is defined as “posessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type”. This is a quote from Merriam Webster’s dictionary, but it’s cited in the American Medical Associuation Manual of Style. The AMA manual goes on to say that while race and ethnicity are cultural constructs, they can have biological implications. This is of particluar importance in medicine. For example, people of African descent are more prone to certain diseases such as sickle-cell anemia. people of Chinese or japanese ancestry are more prone to lactose intolerance. The manual mentions that these terms should be avoided: Caucasian (white is preferred, because Caucasian refers specifically to people from the Caucasus region of Europe) and Oriental (Asian is preferred).

Here is what the US census has to say on the issue (census.gov/population/www/so … actcb.html):
“The minimum categories for race are now: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and White. Instead of allowing a multiracial category as was originally suggested in public and congressional hearings, the OMB adopted the Interagency Committee’s recommendation to allow respondents to select one or more races when they self-identify. With the OMB’s approval, the Census 2000 questionnaires also include a sixth racial category: Some Other Race. There are also two minimum categories for ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. Hispanics and Latinos may be of any race.”