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Kaiser interviews Gordon Chang!

No, not that Gordon Chang. The other one: the good one. Gordon H. Chang is a professor of American history at Stanford University, where he is also the Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities and the senior associate vice provost for undergraduate education. In this prelapsarian podcast, taped on December 19, Gordon chats with Kaiser about the rising tide of Sinophobia — presaging things to come once Trump really started fanning the flames during the present pandemic. 

12:15: American perceptions of China and Chinese people

20:54: A legacy of discrimination against Chinese scientists in the U.S.

31:43: The role of universities in pushing back against xenophobia

35:47: Espionage fears and restrictions against Chinese researchers

Recommendations:

Gordon: The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for Our Future, by Matt Sheehan. 

Kaiser: The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage, by Mara Hvistendahl.

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Kaiser Kuo

Kaiser Kuo is co-founder of the Sinica Podcast and editor-at-large of SupChina.

4 Comments

  1. Brittany Reply

    Shortly after I returned to Chicago, my hometown, from Beijing in January 2020, I accompanied my parents to the Social Security Administration office. It was in a very shoddy area. I politely held the door for several incoming people, mainly Black Americans, who then thanked me.

    After that, this one supposed veteran went PTSD and started cursing Japanese and Koreans. I wasn’t sure if our Asian faces (I’m Chinese-American) triggered him, but he was one of the people whom I had held the door for. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I wasn’t one to care unless personally attacked. He later cursed at a Hispanic couple who were just doing their own thing.

    I was just thinking, “Oh great. I can’t believe that I have to see this crap. At least I’m going back to China soon. Good riddance.”

    1. Jason Reply

      Revealing comment in that you don’t address any particular idea from the podcast. Even by your own account what you experienced was simply racism (and possibly a bit of mental illness), but not particularly sinophobia.

      Stories like yours are exactly why we need to keep speaking out against this sort of treatment, regardless of racial/ethnic background. But at least we’re talking about it…

      Curious why you would say “at least I’m going back to China soon”…. I assume you prefer systematic state-sponsored racism to the more dynamic homegrown type.

  2. Jason Gill Reply

    I really appreciate this examination of sinophobia in the US, and I think that a tough introspective look at America is absolutely the most effective way for us to get better. That being said, the menacing influence of CCP state-sponsored racism is completely neglected here. Chinese government policies are not an excuse for racism, but we need to acknowledge this as a challenge that we must overcome.

    It is important to remember that much of the sinophobia discussed here does not merely arise from home-grown racism or socio-economic stress factors – over the last decade the CCP has also ramped up its weaponization of race and this has further incited distrust of ethnic Chinese (and Asians more generally as many people can’t or don’t care to differentiate). The CCP claims authority over ethnic Chinese regardless of nationality and demands loyalty to the party while refuting all other identities (nationality, religion, etc) that may compete with this single-minded loyalty. The statements we judge as “racist” by the US government are often insufficiently nuanced (especially if you don’t understand the context), but are actually grounded in fact. The CCP uses culture, society, and ethnicity as a political tool and we need to be AWARE of this in order to guard against it. The CCP also specifically targets ethnic Chinese to infiltrate organizations around the globe – their vulnerability arises not from their ethnicity, but from the CCP’s weaponization of that ethnicity (unfortunately the headlines don’t always make this clear).

    Being aware of this however, we need to avoid sinking to a similar level of racism as that sponsored by the CCP. The belief that all humans are equal is fundamental to democracy and, more importantly, to our basic respect for others.

  3. Kaiser Reply

    Kinda like we need to have discussions of black-on-white violence in any conversation about police killings of black people in America because all lives matter, Jason?

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