Apr 232021

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, April 23, 2021

The Communist Party of Canada speaks out strongly against the growth of anti-Asian racism, including the escalation of hate crime attacks against people from the Chinese-Canadian community. We extend our full solidarity to all those who face the worsening impact of racism during the health crisis over the last year, and we condemn attempts to take advantage of this tragic situation to inflame anti-communist and anti-China sentiments.

The rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, across Canada and beyond, reflects the constant use of racist statements by politicians like the former US president. But we also know that anti-Asian racism has a long and sordid history in North America, going back to the 1800s. In Canada, this record includes the 1907 white supremacist riots in Vancouver, the exclusion of the Komagata Maru in 1914, the Chinese head tax laws, exclusion from voting rights, the internment of Japanese-Canadians during WW2, the racist attacks against Muslims and others after Sept. 11, 2001, the mass murders at a Quebec City mosque, and many other examples.

The focus and nature of these racist crimes shifts with the political winds, driven by those who aim to divide the working class and weaken resistance against right-wing policies. In the current international situation, this reflects the drive by US imperialism to defend its military and economic global domination, which is being challenged by China’s rapid economic growth and political influence. This is the real reason for the sharpening vilification of China by US politicians, a campaign backed by most Canadian politicians and by CSIS, and increasingly driven by the corporate mass media.

This is the context for the current wave of physical assaults, social media intimidation and McCarthyite threats against people from the Chinese-Canadian community. This shameful campaign has been pushed by far-right forces, but it is deeply worrying that some who call themselves progressives have piled on as well. The recent Parliamentary motion initiated by the Conservative Party (which has a long history of racism) to condemn China for its alleged “genocide” against the Uyghur population has added fuel to the racist fire. Shockingly, all parties in Parliament supported this motion. Members of these parties are among those urging a boycott of anti-racism rallies in a number of Canadian cities, and to pull out of the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.

These forces have even called for shunning and silencing of leaders and activists within the Chinese-Canadian community who refuse to join the chorus of condemnation against China. For example, we note with dismay the demands to expel Bill Yee from the Board of the Chinese Canadian Museum, and from a committee of volunteers (since disbanded) to advise BC Premier John Horgan on initiatives of interest and concern to the Chinese-Canadian community. Among his other accomplishments, Mr. Yee is a retired judge and a former president of the Chinese Benevolent Association, but he is under fire for correctly stating that the Parliamentary motion was based on lies, and for refusing to condemn the government of the People’s Republic of China.

Joining in the anti-China campaign and the attacks against people such as Bill Yee will not counter the growth of anti-Asian racism. The opposite is true – these actions only play into the historic right-wing racist narrative of Canada as a so-called “white man’s country.” Members of the Chinese-Canadian community, like all people who live in this country, have the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to state views which run counter to the ideology of US imperialist domination. Many Chinese-Canadians are rightfully proud of the accomplishments of China, and reject the false “genocide” accusations. The demands to silence such voices echo the long and bitter history of Canada’s racist “othering” of the Chinese-Canadian community, which includes over a century of de facto exclusion from the media and the realm of political leadership.

The struggle against anti-Asian and anti-Chinese racism in Canada today calls for genuine solidarity with all those who have the courage to speak out against racism. Those who claim that only people who support the attacks against China have the “right” to be heard are making a huge mistake.