David Ownby, Université de Montréal Chinese Culture and the Chinese Diaspora: The Challenge of the West Presentation at the CÉRIUM’s Summer School China Risen How it changes and changes us
Chinese Culture and the Chinese Diaspora: The Challenge of the West David Ownby CERIUM Summer School July 4, 2006
Chinese Identity in the Twenty-First Century What cultural identity will an « awakened China » have? Will China « awake » to a Western form of modernity? Or will we see a renaissance of « traditional » Chinese culture?
Points to ponder • The challenge of the West is not new, but has been a part of China’s experience for 150 years now. The communist revolution, inspired by Marxism, was a response to the West, inspired by the West…… • Traditional Chinese culture has been under attack, within China, at the hands of Chinese, since the beginning of the twentieth century. It is not easy to act as if nothing has happened and promote a « return to tradition »…… • China’s current involvement in the world is real and varied; we must examine economics, diplomacy, and human capital, hence the importance accorded to the Chinese diaspora…
The People’s Republic of China and…Confucius (??!!) • The « sale » of Confucius and Confucianism in today’s China • Beijing Forum • ..\Beijing Forum Page.htm • ..\PKU NEWS Compilation and Study of The Complete Literature on Confucianism.htm • « Asian Values » • Popular reaction to top-down Confucianism
Chinese Diasporas • The first Chinese communities in North America, 1860-1960 • Gold mines, railroads, launderies, restaurants • Discrimination and exclusion • The opening of China, Tian’anmen Square, and the arrival of a second wave of immigrants
The Second Wave of Chinese Immigration • In the 1960s, Canadian and American laws which had severely limited Chinese immigration were repealed, thus permitting renewed Chinese immigration (in fact, Asian immigration) to North America. However, these changes hardly affected mainland Chinese, since it was in 1966 that Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution and largely cut off ties with the rest of the world. It was in the early 1980s, under the new regime of Deng Xiaoping, that the possibility of immigration became a reality for part of the Chinese population of the PRC. The suppression of the student demonstrations in Tian’anmen in 1989 was an important moment in this history.
Chinese Immigration to the United States • 1951-60 9,657 • 1961-70 34,764 • 1971-80 124,326 • 1981-90 346,747 • 1991-2000 419,799 • 1998 41,034 • 1999 29,579 • 2000 41,801 • 2001 50,821 • 2002 55,974 • Total Chinese-American population in 2000: 2,879,000 = 1.02% of the US population
1971 47 1972 25 1973 60 1974 379 1975 903 1976 833 1977 798 1978 644 1979 2058 1980 4936 1981 6551 1982 6295 1983 2217 1984 2214 1985 1883 1986 1902 1987 2625 1988 2778 1989 4,430 1990 7,989 1991 13,915 1992 10,429 1993 9,466 1994 12,486 1995 13,291 1996 17,516 1997 18,520 1998 19,764 1999 29,095 2000 36,716 2001 40,315 2002 33,231 Total Chinese-Canadian population in 2001, 1,029,000 =3.4% of the Canadian population Chinese Immigration to Canada
Percentage of Canadian Immigrants Born in Europe and in Asia, by Period of Immigration
Characteristics of the New (Legal) Chinese Immigrants • Well-educated • Mastery of English, and/or French • Well-integrated into the 21st century economy (computers, accounting, business, science) • Remain linked to China, through new communication technologies • Return to China often
A Sub-Group of Immigrants: Chinese Students • According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, more than 700,000 Chinese students studied abroad between 1978 and 2003, of which 173,000 (25%) returned to China, while the rest (527,000) chose to immigrate. The competition between the US, Great Britain, Canada and Australia to attract these Chinese students is intense, particularly as Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have also entered the race. In 2003, Japan was the most popular destination, attracting some 70,814 Chinese students. The US was the 2nd most popular, having drawn 64,757.
Chinese Students in the US • More than 60,000 in 2003-04 • 20,000 each year • 11% of the total number of foreign students
Case Study #1 The Falun Gong
(Liangshou Jieyin) faire le noeud du Mudra avec les deux mains. Levez les deux mains et tournez les paumes vers le ciel. Les pouces joints légèrement et les quatre autres doigts liés ensemble et les mains posées l'une sur l'autre, la main gauche est posée dessus pour l'homme, la main droite est posée dessus pour la femme, les mains prennent une forme ovale et se posent à la hauteur du bas-ventre. Les deux hauts du bras et les deux coudes un peu avancés pour vider les aisselles.(Fig. 1-1)
Case Study #1: The Falun Gong • Without the new Chinese diaspora, there would have been no « Falun Gong affair » • History of the emergence of the Falun Gong • The invention and development of qigong (« discipline of the breath ») • The « qigong boom » in post-Mao China • Li Hongzhi and the creation of the Falun Gong
Case Study #1: The Falun Gong • The beginning of the end: Li Hongzhi leaves China for the US in 1995 • Implications of Li’s departure for the Falun Gong in China • The Falun Gong in the Chinese diaspora • The Falun Gong demonstration of April 29, 1999 the suppression of the movement by Chinese authorities
Case Study #1: The Falun Gong • The role of diaspora practitioners in the reaction to the campaign of suppression • Political activities—lobbying Western governments • Surveying and correcting media reports • Direct actions: returning to China to demonstrate • « Cyber »-activities • « Guérilla » activities
Case Study #1: The Falun Gong • The importance of the diaspora • Had China not been open and had the diaspora not existed, the suppression campaign would have succeeded without difficulty • The US served as a safe haven where Li Hongzhi could take refuge • New Chinese immigrants became Falun Gong practitioners in regions where the Chinese state did not have the right to intervene • Ideas drawn for Enlightenment discourse were added to the religious base of Falun Gong doctrine
Case Study #2: « Visualizing Cultures » at MIT • A story of surprising chauvinism among China’s best and brightest • The origins of the story • site du MIT • « Visualizing Cultures »
The « offensive image » « Illustration of the decapitation of violent Chinese soldiers »
The author’s description/interpretation of the image • Dower’s text describes one such print, entitled “Illustration of the Decapitation of Violent Chinese Soldiers,” which depicted Japanese soldiers executing helpless Chinese prisoners of war, as “an unusually frightful scene.” He continues, “Even today, over a century later, this contempt remains shocking. Simply as racial stereotyping alone, it was as disdainful of the Chinese as anything that can be found in anti-“Oriental” racism in the United States and Europe at the time – as if the process of “Westernization” had entailed, for Japanese, adopting the white man’s imagery while excluding themselves from it. This poisonous seed, already planted in violence in 1894-95, would burst into full atrocious flower four decades later, when the emperor’s soldiers and sailors once again launched war against China.”
Demands of Chinese students at MIT • Nonetheless, certain Chinese students saw the web site and the images as an affirmation or even a celebration—by the authors of the web site—of Japanese racism and imperialism. These students sent the image—without the author`s description—to 100s if not 1000s of apparently like-minded Chinese, directly accusing the professors and the university of insensitivity and racism.
Demands of Chinese students at MIT • The Japanese professor received more than 2000 abusive messages (« hatemail »), including death threats. The police were asked to intervene.