The dangerous upsurge in Sinophobia since the start of the coronavirus crisis is a present day reflection of the anti-China xenophobia which has always been deliberately fanned by reactionary forces, starting from the earliest days of European colonisation on the west coast. The Communist Party of Canada calls upon the labour and people’s movements, and all progressive organizations in Canada, to speak out against the latest wave of extremely divisive hatred directed against China and people of Chinese backgrounds.
The corporate media’s attempt to lay the blame against China for the coronavirus crisis ignores the facts, which are that the leadership and health professionals of the People’s Republic of China have acted swiftly and comprehensively to block the spread of the disease and to find scientific and medical solutions. Irresponsible social media sources have also spread misinformation and panic, encouraging expressions of bigotry and hatred rather than promoting efforts to build international cooperation to overcome this crisis. It is not unexpected to see this divisive approach by the media and right-wing forces, but progressives and anti-racists have a serious responsibility to help overcome the wave of Sinophobia and racism. This is particularly true because of the historical record of anti-Chinese racism in this country, a tragic story which includes the deaths of hundreds of Chinese labourers during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway; the early 20th century “yellow peril” campaigns, including by some trade unions, to blame Chinese-born workers (rather than employers) for wage cuts; the anti-Asian riot of 1907 in Vancouver; the Chinese Exclusion Act and the head tax policies to prevent relatives of Chinese-born workers from emigrating to Canada; and the ban against voting rights by Chinese-Canadians until 1947. This period was followed by a new wave of Cold War anti-China and anti-Communist hatred after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, and later examples such as the bigoted attempts to blame Chinese immigrants and investors for the high cost of housing in British Columbia.
The persistent thread of anti-Chinese racism and Sinophobia continues to this day, as seen by the federal government’s collusion with the U.S. demand to extradite Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou to stand trial for “trading with Iran,” which is not a crime in Canada, as well as the open encouragement by politicians of the Hong Kong protesters who have brazenly called for U.S. intervention to divide China. We also note that some environmental groups constantly seek to inflame anti-China sentiments by focusing their public campaigns mainly against resource industry investments by China-based companies, while studiously avoiding criticism of U.S.-owned corporations.
Seen from this perspective, the shameful campaign to blame China for the coronavirus crisis and other problems completely plays into the hands of U.S. and Canadian imperialism. The U.S. in particular is determined to find every possible way to encircle, undermine and weaken the PRC, which it considers a threat to its military and economic domination of the Pacific region and beyond. We urge all progressive forces – especially the organized labour movement – to condemn anti-Chinese racism, and to extend the hand of solidarity and friendship with China at this difficult time.
Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Feb 9, 2020