Racism not an element in Chinese civilisation

Josh Hong, via the introduction of himself in his writings, stresses his will ' ... to fight against hegemony of all kinds'. His latest article Chinese racism - not quite in nutshell shows without a doubt that he has since found a new form of hegemony to battle against - :the 5,000 year-old Chinese civilisation.

As Dr Catherine Yeoh has rightly pointed out, Hong has made 'many serious but one-sided assertions'. Yeoh has explained the dynamic evolution of the Chinese civilisation which '... has been embracing modern ideas like capitalism, liberalism, socialism and nationalism just like many Japanese and Indians', a fact which Hong chose to ignore and, in some cases, distort.

I would only draw specific attention to Hong's claim on the 'ancient racial classification' of the Chinese civilisation in which he puts racial tags on the four terms Yi, Qiang (or Rong), Di and Man and claims that 'they were all regarded as uncivilised and barbaric by the Han Chinese of the Central Plain'.

The first blunder by Hong is that the Dong Yi (Eastern Yi), Xi Rong (Western Rong), Bei Di (Northern Di) and Nan Man (Southern Man) were all in relation to the Xia or Hua Xia race in the Central Plain - not the Han.

Any person who read Chinese history would know that the term Han race came into being only after the Han Dynasty, which began in 206 BC. The division into Hua Xia, Dong Yi, Xi Rong, Bei Di and Nan Man was at least a millennium earlier, around 1,600 BC, if not even earlier.

Second, Hong seems to be ignorant of the fact that when the term Han appeared, many Yi, Rong, Di and Man had already assimilated themselves with the Central Han race itself. Besides elements of Hua Xia, others also included those of Yi, Rong, Di and Man.

Third, and most importantly, the terms Yi, Rong, Di and Man in their original definitions, as stated in Wang Zhi of Liji (Section on Regulation on Kingship in the Book of Rites), harboured no discriminatory meanings whatsoever.

Readers of ancient Chinese history would find different references to the Xia, Yi, Rong, Di or Man in the earliest model kingdoms, legendary or otherwise. There are records of officials from the Kingdom of Chu addressing themselves as Man, and also of Japanese calling themselves Yi in their early diplomacy with China.

Some scholars suggest that the Xia, Yi, Rong, Di and Man actually originated from the same root, but later moved to different areas.

The fact is, racial relations between the Xia, Yi, Rong, Di and Man in ancient Chinese history are not something you could learn by simply flipping through any book '... on China's historical relations with the neighbouring regions' as Hong would like to imply. Far from that, it remains a topic that attracts only a very few highly qualified scholars, with a sound knowledge of classical Chinese.

Hong's claim that racism had been an element in China's 5,000 years civilisation' is intellectually ignorant and by selling such unfounded statements to the non-Chinese and to Chinese friends who read no classical Chinese, it is dangerous.