West and China: (I) contempt, fear and envy | Vladimir Acosta

The West, which essentially has been and is Europe, the same that in its arrogance describes itself as the sole owner of science and rational thought, has never known how to see China except through feelings such as contempt, fear and recently the envy, all opposed to science and rational thought.

At first, when it was not yet Europe, the West ignored China. The Greeks, thanks to travelers like Ctesias and Megastenes, came to have a fanciful idea of ​​India, but none of China. The Romans were the only ones to have it, but reduced, seen through trade. They knew silk, which came from China, and for it they called the Chinese beings, a name that was preserved in the European Middle Ages. When in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, medieval Christian Europe, already beginning its expansion towards the East, sought agreements with the Mongols to confront Islam, several European travelers, merchants or monks discovered China, and its size, wealth and exceptional culture struck . This is the case of Marco Polo and monks like Odorico de Pordenone and Jourdain de Severac.

But that is marginal and of little consequence, as it happens with European travelers of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. China is still distant, poorly known, always strange and curious. Europeans are unaware that centuries before they had any idea of ​​this, China had invented, among many other things, paper, printing, the compass and gunpowder.

Europe begins to approach China in the 1900th century. Discover its tea and its porcelain. The real rapprochement begins in the middle of the XNUMXth century. In their colonial expansion, the English and then the French discovered a China as great as it was weak and began to try to dominate it. In the name of free trade, England forces it to consume opium, which was brought from its Indian colony. And as the Chinese government rejects opium and burns it, it invades the country, defeats its troops and takes over Hong Kong. Another Opium War follows and this time the English and French plunder China and impose their colonial rule on it. And behind come the others: Germans, Japanese and Americans, each in search of pieces of that China which they then all invade and plunder together again in XNUMX.

It is the time of contempt.

Many Chinese emigrate from their ruined country. They go to the West: to the United States and Latin America. They are despised as poor and different. There is racism and humiliation against them. But they are stubborn and they stay. In Cuba, where they call them narras, it is sung: Chiang Li po vino de China/ y en La Habana se quedó. In Venezuela, already old, Antonio Leocadio Guzmán is dedicated to the ugly business of importing Chinese servants, but Guzmán Blanco, his son and president, does not want them. They wash and iron clothes. They abound in Peru where they also wash, iron, and create cheap feeders that Peruvians call chifas. In the United States there are many, although there is an attempt to stop emigration. They abound in California and New York. They are servants, mine workers and the continental railroad. Everywhere they are mistreated and often beaten or massacred by white racists. In short, exploitation, hatred and contempt.

Follow the time of fear.

Beginning of the XNUMXth century. Germany alerts the world to the Yellow hazard. China is not the danger, but it is beginning to wake up. In 1911 the rotten Ching dynasty fell and with it the empire. Sun-Yat sen proclaims the Republic, although the country soon falls into chaos. The Kuomintang is a progressive force. The Russian Revolution, which triumphed in 1917, arrived in China in 1921. The Communist Party was created in Shanghai. Decades of struggle continue. With Chiang-Kai shek the KMT is sold to the West, but the CCP grows and fights.

And the West creates the one who will be the greatest literary symbol of the Yellow hazard. The Chinese Fu-Manchu, sinister doctor, evil genius, unscrupulous criminal willing to take over the world, is created in London in 1912-13 by the British author Sax Rohmer. He will be the protagonist of 13 novels, 11 between 1913 and 1948, with devastating success, and two more between 1957 and 1959. They were read by millions of people and generated a long sequence of films and suspense series, British and American, that filled theaters in America and Europe. In the 30s, the followers of Fu Manchu numbered over 100 million worldwide.

Fear did not exclude contempt. In radio and cinema, both were combined, accentuating the feeling of rejection. The Shanghai Express (1932)Sternberg's American film oozes fear and racist contempt. The protagonist, a British official, talks with the head of the military group that has robbed the train. He has a Chinese father and a European mother and doubts his identity. The British man tells him to choose to be European, and as the military man hesitates, he adds: -¿Would you rather be Chinese? I will tell you what it is to be Chinese: you are born, you eat some rice and then you die. But the contemptuous racist phrase of the European does not convince the military man, who is still Chinese, and for him everything ends in disaster.

Fear has another racist trait in the West. The Americans are suspicious of the Chinese for their customs and say that hidden in the Chinatowns, urban spaces in which they live, there are mafias, triads, kidnappings, murders and human sacrifices. That fear and contempt against them mattered little. China continued its long march struggling to shake off the dominance of the West. And in 1936, Edgard Snow discovers Mao-Tse tung.

And the time of envy arrives

It took time, but it has arrived. And everything indicates that it is here to stay. After a long and successful guerrilla, popular, peasant and working class struggle, the Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Tse tung came to power in 1949. And since then China, finally converted into a sovereign country and master of its destiny, undertakes a new route. Many things happen that the West sees from afar, but in which the United States, its new leader, begins to meddle. Chinese communism begins to build a new country. The West stops seeing the Chinese as a despicable and dangerous yellow mass of servants, who cook, wash and iron clothes. They are now seen as full human beings and the names of their leaders are beginning to be known and respected: Mao Tse tung, Chou En lai, Liu Xao chi, Peng Teh huai, to which others such as Lin Piao and Deng Xiao ping is added later.

The path of the Revolution is not easy. There are successes and failures: Land reform, Leap forward, changes in the government, conflict with the Soviet Union, internal struggles, Cultural Revolution, Red Brigades, purge of leaders and absolute imposition of Mao's power. His death marks the end of that Cultural Revolution, a fierce struggle for power in which Mao defeated at a high price, leaving China on the brink of disaster. A change of route is urgent, but not of objectives. It is Deng Xiao ping's turn, who promotes growth, opens the doors of China to international capitalism and foreign investment, but with the Communist Party in command, controlling the key guidelines of the enormous economic growth that this opening generates and that in a matter of three decades overcome poverty and make China a real power. Today China is overtaking the United States. Unstoppable economic growth, ever-increasing scientific, technological and military advancements, growing dignity, sovereignty, power and prestige, and astonishing social achievements. All this while Europe, from the former mistress of the world, becomes a servile gringo protectorate. Xi Jinping declares that in two decades China lifted 800 million Chinese out of poverty while poverty grows in the West. How can Europe not envy that worthy China that progresses without pause, that seeks the friendship of other countries through agreements and does not threaten or invade anyone, as does its decadent master, the United States?

 

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