Sinophobia More Likely to Hurt America Than China in the Long Run

Sinophobia is not a new story in the US. It has existed ever since the 19th century when Chinese immigrants first turned up in the United States. Its origins can be traced to the American merchants, missionaries, and diplomats who dispatched from China ” negative” reports of the people they met there

Washington’s most recent antagonistic anti-Chinese sentiment step focuses on kicking Confucius Institutes out of the US. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that “The Confucius Centers are a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party… they are not cultural centers.” Well, What about the British councils and American Houses in every single country on earth? I attended a few political gatherings at the American House in Kyiv, Ukraine, and every single meeting centered around Russophobia, Sinophobia, and the so-called American dream.

McCarthyism, which is a practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, and accusations especially of pro-Communist in order to restrict dissent or political criticism, still haunt the US. Pompeo has also warned that: “If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party, whose actions are the primary challenge today in the free world,” he said. “The free world must triumph over this new tyranny.”

As China is gradually taking over in terms of financial rivalry, technology, and expansionism, the issue of China thereat is deliberately exaggerated by the American politicians and especially by Trump who never hesitates to puke his hatred against China. It is therefore no surprise to see that Confucius Institutes become their latest target.

The establishment of Confucius Institutes in the US is the consequence of bilateral choices. This cooperation has paved the way for the tutelage of Putonghua, the standard Chinese. And this has been assessed and approved by the American universities. There is a massive growth in the numbers of non-Chinese heritage people who learn Chinese, nevertheless, Westerners commenced to learn Chinese during the 16th century. In 2010, almost a million people from around the world took the Official Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK). Mark Zuckerberg and U.S. President Obama’s daughter, Malia Obama are among those who take Chinese as their second language.

It looks like, the current US government has made up its mind about closing down all Confucius Institutes in the US. Will this bring any benefit to both sides? “Chinese isn’t the new French, it’s the new English,” says Robert Davis, director of the Chinese-language program in Chicago’s public school system, which has 8,000 students studying Mandarin.

Confucius Institutes have bettered Americans’ perception of China, which has recently gained significance all over the world. What is more, thanks to these institutes, American students expanded their horizons and embraced better employment opportunities. The Confucius Institutes should be considered not only in terms of linguistic centers but also cultural ones that could melt the ice in between two opposing powers. Yet now the Trump government has lashed out at the institutes.

Closing Confucius Institutes in the US will be highly detrimental to the improvement of cultural exchanges. With regard to national interest and easing the tensions, It is exorbitantly impolitic to shut down all Confucius Institutes in the US.

Upon China’s reformations and opening-up, many Americans arrived in the Chinese mainland to learn Chinese. Confucius Institutes have provided a gateway to the fundamentals of Chinese culture with outstanding accomplishments. Yet, lately, members of the US Congress, the director of the FBI, and academic advisory groups have gone so far as to blame the Confucius Institute for being a “subversive” mechanism under the entire control of Beijing in a bid to gradually indoctrinate US universities with a pro-Beijing narrative.

Texas A&M, the second-largest university system by enrolment in the US, has publicly stated that it was suspending ties with the Confucius Institute following a statement issued by two Republican Congressmen expressing deep concern over “Chinese government influence spreading throughout educational institutions in Texas.”

Most American politicians are of the opinion that Confucius Institutes are a part of China’s cultural “soft power” strategy, which it has been pursuing since 2007. The growing number of Confucius Institutes globally is therefore perceived as a ‘yellow peril’ by McCarthyist politicians in the US

The American elections are nearing and the good news seems not to be on the horizon for Trump. Just like Russophobia, the US has been in pursuit of creating an evil at whose gate it can put all the blame. For essentially political purposes, projecting the blame for US domestic problems to China is the hopeless strategy of Trump’s reelection hopes. The entire closure of Confucius Institutes is sadly an inevitable part of this stigmatization, however, it will undoubtedly harm US more than it does China in the long run

About the Author
Serkan is lecturer and an independent journalist. He has a masters and Phd from Leeds University and publishes articles regularly in numerous media outlets.
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