美国道歉《排华法案》与广州黑人抗议事件 – American apologies for the “Chinese Exclusion Act” and the black protests in Guangzhou

最近美国国会众议院全票通过了一项为一百三十年前的《排华法案》道歉的议案,而在此之前,参议院已经于去年通过了同样的议案。对这一议案的通过,中 美两国的主要媒体都予以了显著位置的报道。国内的社会舆论如何,可想而知,自然不在话下。在美国这边,如果对于美国的社会民情稍有了解,也会明白,这种议 案的通过只是时间的问题,毕竟美国社会在经历了六十年代的民权运动之后,在这种人权、种族问题上,已经发生了巨大的改变。不同种族、文化之间的平等,早已 成为社会意识的主流。这一道歉议案的主要发起人之一加州众议员赵美心在议案通过后表示,“我们必须要明白,这些丑陋的法律与美国的建国原则不相容。…我们 的社会不能容忍歧视”。

 

简单而言,美国国会于1882年5月6日通过了美国历史上第一部,也是唯一的一部, 针对特定种族的议案,即《排华法案》,基本上禁止了中国人移民美国,同时也严重限制了已经进入美国的中国人的政治经济权利。当时的总统亚瑟签署了这个议 案,使之成为法律。在十年届满之后,又被延长了十年,并在1902年被确定为永久性法律。在第二次世界大战中,在美国卷入战争之后,由于中美成为战时同盟 国,到1943年这部法律才被做了一些修改。最后一直到1965年,美国出台了新的《移民法》,才彻底取消了以原始国籍划分移民配额的原则,从而为包括中 国人在内的亚洲移民打开了门户。

 

关于这些上面事情的详情,任何有兴趣的人大可上网搜索资料,并非本文的重 点。这几天真正引起了我的兴趣的,是美国《时代》杂志的一篇文章。在这篇题为“一个尼日利亚人死于中国:种族关系开始紧张”的文章中,作者首先提到了中国 媒体对于西方世界民主制度的一贯批判手法:即种族关系问题。同时作者也顺理成章地注意到,自然而然的,在这一大背景之下,在美国国会就历史上“令人感到羞 耻”的《排华法案》一事道歉之后,中国国内的媒体都在首要版面予以了报道。然后该文作者笔锋一转,接着就指出了中国这种民族主义自豪情节的另一个方面,即 媒体往往回避国内自身的种族关系问题。“就在众议院致歉的同一天,在广州,一名尼日利亚人在被警察拘留后死亡。但是新闻报道对于非洲人的抗议行为,只提供 了有限的描述。…警方更是仅仅说明‘有人造成了严重的交通堵塞’”。

 

对于这件事我并没有刻意去观察网路上的 反应,但根据从一些朋友那里得到的信息,正如上面这篇《时代》杂志文章所描述的,“虽然中国一直自诩是一个没有种族歧视的国家,而且常常念念不忘以往亚非 拉第三世界国家民族大团结的时代”,但在这一事件中,社交媒体上表现出了“令人震惊的排外情绪”。进一步而言,据我后来所知,从一些网路上具体的言论看 来,这一事件所激发的,绝不仅仅类同于前不久针对某些西方人劣行的“仇外、排外”的心态,而是更有一种针对特定人群的强烈种族自我优越感渗透在其中。事情 到了这一步的时候,就已经耐人寻味,并具有了高度的讽刺意味:就在同一时间里,当很多中国人为了美国为历史上排华道歉而倍感欣慰的时候,一些中国人已经开 始高喊要把“非洲黑鬼”统统赶出中国去了。

 

我看过一些西方左派后殖民主义学者的著作,其基本的论点,就是对 于殖民地历史予以全面的否定,支持少数民族、被压迫民族的解放运动,批判西方帝国主义的统治与压迫,重新解读南北半球、东西方的关系。仅从个人感觉而言, 谁也无法否认,西方几百年的殖民历史是罪恶累累,对于今天第三世界的贫困与动乱,要负很大的责任。但是我认为西方左派学术与实践中最大的问题,在于没有找 到合适的理论出路。也就是说,在一方面,他们推崇落后国家民族的自我觉醒和对西方的反抗,但是在另一方面,他们又无力解释一些独立后民族国家政权的倒行逆 施,只能采取回避的态度,从而使得其理论缺乏说服力,自身的影响力也日渐衰微。今天中国的一些左派人士其实也面临着同样的理论困境。在一些左派的宣传中, 都喜欢提及毛时代的一句口号,“哪里有压迫,哪里就有反抗”。听起来似乎很有道理,但我的疑问是,没有经过思想意识的革命,就不会有所谓的解放,反抗之后 建立起来的,人民大众面对的,很可能是更深重的压迫和新一轮的暴政。

 

顺着这个思路,回到美国道歉和有人要把 “非洲黑鬼”赶出中国这件事情上来,如果把二者放在一起,我们可以很清楚地看到,这里面折射出的含义是很清楚的:中国历史上百多年的被压迫被侵略历史,塑 造了反抗的正义感与合法性,但并没有在人文意识的进步上产生多少推动作用,从而使得无论1949年国家政权的更迭,还是1978年的经济改革,都只具有物 质层面上的相对积极意义。在国内,六十年来户籍制度的存在,就是这一论断最大的证据。一个国家的大多数人口,在为经济起飞做出了巨大贡献的情况下,至今仍 然被合理合法地排斥在经济繁荣之外,而城市社会大众也对此保持了沉默。进一步看来,这个社会不但漠视、容忍了世界上最大的身份歧视制度,今天还有人要开始 走西方种族主义的老路,要把某个外来种族赶出去。

 

在这个时候,无需多言,我相信很多人都会明白,除了经济繁 荣,中国社会更需要的会是什么。前面提到的那篇《时代》杂志文章作者在最后说,“为了那个死去的尼日利亚人,一个来自中国官方的道歉或者一个完整的解释, 可能会是一段漫长的等待”。如果将来结果真的是这样,那么那个来自美国的道歉,大概在若干年后,只能使我们的后人为今天感到羞愧,而不是民族崛起的骄傲。

 

Source: 1510, June 24 2012 – http://www.my1510.cn/article.php?id=79545

Recently, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously for a motion to issue an apology for the “Chinese Exclusion Act” passed 130 years ago. Prior to this, one year ago the Senate voted a similar motion. Chinese and American media both gave reports on the vote of this motion a prominent position. For Chinese public opinion, as one can imagine, it is natural to emphasize it. On the American side, if you have some understanding of US society, you can understand that the adoption of this motion was just a question of time. After all, since the Human Rights movements of the sixties, American society has gone through great changes in the area of Human Rights and racial issues. Equality between different ethnicities and cultures has become a mainstream social conviction. After the motion was passed, one of the main supporters of this apology, Maxim Zhao, Congressman for California, said: “We have to understand that these ugly laws are incompatible with the founding principles of the United States…. Our society cannot tolerate discrimination.”

In simple terms, on the 6th of May 1882, the American Congress adopted the first and only motion in the history of the United States directed against a specific ethnicity; that is, the “Chinese Exclusion Act” basically forbid Chinese immigrants from entering the United States, and also severely limited the economic and political rights of Chinese people already residing in the United States. The then president McArthur signed this motion, making it into law. When it expired after ten years, it was extended for another ten years, and in 1902, it became a permanent law. In 1943, in the middle of World War II, after the US entered the war, because the US and China were allies, some changes were made to the law. Finally in 1965, the US introduced a new “Migration Act”, where the principle of immigration quotas based on nationality was abolished, opening the door for Asian migrants, including migrants from China.

For further details on the aforementioned, those interested can look for information on the NPC’s website; however that is not the focus of this article. What has really caught my interest lately is an article in the American “Time” magazine. In this article entitled, “A Nigerian dies in China: tension in ethnic relations”, the writer first mentions that the Chinese media have always been critical of one thing in the Western World’s democracies: the issue of ethnic relations. At the same time, the author also notes that, naturally, in this context, the Chinese domestic media were the primary forum for reporting on the apology from the US Congress for the “Chinese Exclusion Act” which “made people ashamed” of history. But then, the author of this article accurately points out another aspect of this Chinese nationalistic pride, namely that the media tends to avoid the issues concerning ethnic relations in China. “On the same day that Congress voted in favour of issuing an apology, in Guangzhou, a Nigerian man died whilst in police custody. But the news reports on the African demonstrations were limited in their descriptions… the police explanation was that ‘some people were causing serious traffic jams'”.

On this matter, I did not bother looking at reactions on the internet, but according to some information I received from friends, as described in the aforementioned ‘Time’ magazine article, “Although China has always prided itself on being a country free of ethnic discrimination, and is often fixated on a period in the past when there was great unity between the Third World countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.” However, in this case, social media showed “shocking levels of xenophobia”. Furthermore, as I later learnt, judging from a few comments on the web, this incident incited not only “xenophobic and racist” attitudes towards some Westerners, but even more than that, strong feelings of racial superiority towards specific peoples. As things took this turn, one thing is particularly worth noting, as well as highly ironic: at the same time that many Chinese people were very grateful to have received an apology from America for their historical exclusion, some Chinese people had already started declaring that they wanted ‘African niggers’ to get out of China.

I have read the works of a few left-wing post-colonial Western scholars. Their basic argument is a largely negative view of colonial history, support for ethnic minorities and the liberation movements of the oppressed, criticism of the rule and oppression of Western imperialism, and a reinterpretation of the relationship between North and South, East and West. From a personal perspective, no-one can deny that the centuries of Western imperialism were evil, and are largely responsible for poverty and unrest in the Third World today. But I think the biggest problem with the practices of Western left-wing scholars is that they haven’t found an appropriate theoretical solution. In other words, on the one hand, they respect the self-assurance and resistance to the West of backwards nations; but on the other hand, they are unable to explain the depravity of a number of post-independence regimes, they can only adopt an evasive attitude, which makes their theories weak and unconvincing. Some leftists in today’s China are facing the same theoretical dilemma. Some left-wing propaganda quotes slogans from the Mao era such as: “where there is oppression, there will be resistance”. It sounds very reasonable, but my question is, without an ideological revolution, there can be no so-called liberation, and after the revolt is over, what the masses are facing may well be further oppression and a new generation of tyrants.

Following on from this idea, and returning to the matter of the US apology and people shouting “niggers out” in China, if we put the two together, we can see very clearly the meaning of this: the Chinese have experienced a hundred years of oppression and aggression, shaping their sense of justice and the legitimacy of resistance; however, this experience has had no role in promoting the progress of human consciousness. The change of regime in 1949 and the economic reforms of 1978 had a relatively positive influence only on a materialistic level. The persistence of the household registration system for over sixty years is the greatest evidence of this. A majority of the population who made a significant contribution to China’s economic take-off is still legitimately excluded from economic prosperity, but most of urban society remains silent about this point. To take this assertion one step further, Chinese society not only ignores and tolerates the largest scale discrimination in the world, but people today also seem to be taking the road of Western racism, and casting out certain foreigners.

At this time, needless to say, I believe many people understand what Chinese society needs apart from economic prosperity. The author of the “Time” magazine article mentions at the end of his piece: “We may have to wait a long time for either an official Chinese apology, or an explanation, for the death of that Nigerian man.” If that is really how things are, then this apology from the US, after many years, will probably bring our descendants only shame for today’s China, rather than national pride.

Source: 1510, June 24 2012 – http://www.my1510.cn/article.php?id=79545

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August 3, 2018 at 4:06 am

Original translation by Jordan Dreyer

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