Author: wchao37

On the unique Chinese experience of acculturating their conquerors [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2004-3-31 01:07:51 |Display all floors

warped view of the world


as i read it, your post contends that chinese are largely not racist, while "anglo" people are far more so.

i think that idea is racist in itself.  

the majority of chinese people i have met are nice and tolerant of "outsiders," but they are incredibly unwilling to accept ideas and practices from those outsiders ... at least more so than other people.

chinese nationalists such as yourself like to portray china as a welcoming and hospitable nation, while denegrating western countries as racist and bigoted.  i invite you and all who think like you to come live here in the ghettos of los angeles, philadelphia, and washington, dc and see how tolerant and warm-hearted you are then.  

i cringe at imaging the stares a black person would elicit if they walked the streets of a chinese city, not even to mention an inter-racial couple.  imagine the horror it would cause if a chinese married a mexican.  

so please give up the pretension that china is somehow free of bigotry and racism.  it is not.  most cultures, including so-called "anglo" cultures, have to take a long time to come to terms with their own racist attitudes.  i think china has a long way to go in this regard.


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Post time 2004-3-31 08:20:40 |Display all floors

Acculturation in action: Jews in Kaifeng and Arab-Persians in Quanzhou

Jews in Kaifeng used to have quite distinctive physical attributes and they had synagogues for congregational purposes.

I made a point of visiting the city a couple of times after first reading about the lost tribe of the Diapora when I was a teenager.

I found that the so-called 'lost tribe' was actually living quite well in Kaifeng, China.  The only thing is that they had indistinguishably all become Chinese.  They had intermarried with the Chinese over the centuries and when I asked to see someone with Jewish ancestry in that city, I was shown a man by the name of Li with a nose quite different from the norm in the indigenous population.

I am sure this subject matter will become the content of a Ph.D. thesis someday.  Maybe one of the kids reading this post will be the one and I am talking to YOU.

Do a good job in the research with the aim of illustrating the relationship between ancient peoples down the centuries and how acculturation works -- it works only when social equality is real and not feigned.

In fact, I have found that the more you want to acculturate other peoples the more you will fail.  By presupposing that your culture is better and everyone ought to aim at becoming you, the stronger the resistance against such coercion will be.

Coming back to Mr. Li here -- The man worked in a bank and he said his ancestors were Jews but he is no longer practicing the religion.  When I asked him about any memory of the last synagogue in town, he demurred and scratched his head.

Mind you, this is all voluntary -- no one coerced him into forsaking his religion or language.  Having been treated as an equal for centuries in Kaifeng, Jews became Chinese and added vital new blood to the mainstream Chinese nation.

To witness a similar process in action, you need to go to the city of Quanzhou, which was the largest seaport where seamen from all over the world gathered during the Ming Dynasty.  There are descendants from Ceylon, India, Persia, and Arab nations, all of whom have become physically indistinguishable from mainstream 'Han Chinese.'

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Post time 2004-3-31 08:39:40 |Display all floors

Ain't so, ts

<b>the majority of chinese people i have met are nice and tolerant of "outsiders," but they are incredibly unwilling to accept ideas and practices from those outsiders ... at least more so than other people.</b>

Not true at all. The reason why China could survive as a continuous civilization for so long is because the Chinese have absorbed many good points from other nations by making a conscious effort to learn from others.

I can quote endless examples but I feel it is useless to do that here.  The present policy of the Chinese government swapping market for technology is the best example of Chinese willingness to learn from others with market share as leverage.  

Can you show us any evidence of their unwillingness to do so?  They hold on to their traditions after comparing with those of other peoples.  They retain the good points and reject the bad ones.  What's wrong with that?

I don't think you should talk about my 'warped views' when you have nothing substantial to argue against them.

Everyone has a different view and we have gone through this kind of argument before in the definition of what a patriot is in the other article.

Please try not to talk in generalized terms knowing absolutely nothing about the subject matter.


<b>Chinese nationalists such as yourself like to portray china as a welcoming and hospitable nation, while denegrating western countries as racist and bigoted. i invite you and all who think like you to come live here in the ghettos of los angeles, philadelphia, and washington, dc and see how tolerant and warm-hearted you are then. </b>

I speak as a member of the human species, and just happen to be a Chinese by birth.

You speak using terms you don't understand -- like "nationalists" -- the connotation of which is that such a person will defend whatever is against his own nation, even when the nation is wrong.

You should have known I am not such a person if you had read my work assiduously.

I pointed out the problems (like the blind practice of prioritizing the study of English in kids) as well as the good ones (like in the article of whether the Chinese government represent the will of the people).

The rest of your sentence is incomprehensible.

I suggest that you take some formal courses learning about China because your fundamental understanding of Chinese matters seem to be 'warped' -- to use your own word.

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Post time 2004-3-31 19:41:06 |Display all floors

something about the jews in kaifeng

I hope not to bore you too much but I found this in the web page of a chinese-kosher's interesting to read although I had no time to check the facts...wchao sems you are very well informed so maybe you could trhow some light into this matter by saying if the facts here can be correct.

Yes, there are Chinese Jews, and yes they did live in Kaifeng.

In the ninth century, Kaifeng was one of the largest cities in the world. Some 600 kilometres southwest of Beijing in East-Central China, Kaifeng boasted a population of nearly 1 million people.

Located on the silk road, Jewish merchants and their families heading east from Persia arrived and settled finding acceptance of their customs and freedom from persecution. Thus started one of the most remarkable stories of a Jewish community that existed totally isolated from any outside Jewish contact.

Completely unknown to the western world, the Jews of Kaifeng maintained a synagogue, mikvah, kept kasruth and practised the rite of circumcision for nearly 1000 years.

They called to meet the Song Dynasty Emperor Hsiua Tsung and presented him with gifts of fine cloth. The Emperor was delighted and honoured them by letting the Jews use the surnames of Zhao, Li, Ai, Zhang, Gao, Jin and Shi.

The community prospered in Kaifeng but many times their synagogue was damaged or completely destroyed by flooding from the Yellow River. The constant rebuilding may have played an important part in their maintaining their Jewish identity and sense of community, in a country that had freely accepted them and was in danger of assimilating them.

In Marco Polo's travel diary he describes his meeting Jews in China in 1286. He reported that Kublai Khan celebrated Jewish festivals along with Christian and Muslim holidays.

Some 300 years later, in 1605, Ai Tien a senior of the 1000 strong Kaifeng community, decided to travel to Beijing since he had heard of a congregation that prayed to only one God. He was unaware of Christianity and presumed them to be Jews. He presented himself to their leader Father Matteo Ricci as members of the same religion. Ai Tien was thought to be a member of a long lost Christian community until their differences became apparent.

However, Father Matteo wrote to the Vatican with the news of the Jews of Kaifeng. Many missionaries were sent and there were many unsuccessful attempts to convert them. They were also keen to see their Torah. Rome believed that the coming of Jesus had been removed from European Torahs !

Amongst the Jesuit missionaries was Father Jean Domenge, who, in 1722, sent a series of drawings of Jewish life in Kaifeng back to Rome. One of these depicts Jews in front of the Ark, and can be seen in the Kaifeng restaurant in Hendon.

After another flooding the 19th century the synagogue fell into ruin. There were no more Rabbis and the community became more and more assimilated. Today if you ask to meet Jews in Kaifeng, you will meet people who "do not eat pork".

Why ?
Because their families never did.

The proof that they really are descended from the Jews of Kaifeng?
One does not accept the other as truly Jewish.

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Post time 2004-3-31 22:41:21 |Display all floors

actually, i agree with your main point

that china is amazing in its ability to acculturize other people groups.  i don't think that denotes amazing tolerance and lack of prejudice, however.

that china is overwhelmingly one ethnicity.  if you say this is due to acculturation, then fine.  but i'm telling you that homogenity does not equal tolerance.  

i take umbrage at your consistent efforts to depict western society, especially america, as inherently intolerant and racist.  that is not the america i live in today.  

china has had encounters with other asiatics (and small bands of non-asiatics such as your kaifeng jews), but has yet to prove it can tolerate widespread diversity.  sure, china has 50 or so minorities, but those people are becoming more and more han chinese every year.  

remember, china = the c c p = chinese (ethnicity).


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Post time 2004-4-1 09:44:36 |Display all floors

What the Jews have achieved in the religious field the Chinese have done so in t

Jews in Kaifeng became absorbed into Chinese society and their group identity disappeared without a trace because they were treated as equals.

As I have said, European prejudice against Jews can be understood only if you know how Catholicism came into prominence with Roman general Constatine who became Caesar Constantine in the city that came to bear his name until it was renamed Istanbul.  

Remember that Hitler built his party basically in the same way the Vatican built the Catholic order.  There was a speech in which he actually said those words "Die Welt geh鰎t uns"  or "The world belongs to us."  

One only has to look at the Torah or Pentateuch to realize that if people believe that God has spoken to them and them alone, they will feel very special or unique and this feeling is resented by believers of other monotheist faiths or even atheists.

What the Jews have done in the religious field the Chinese have done in the cultural field.  They believe in the intrinsic attractiveness of their culture and that if a person is given free rein he will always choose the more tolerant and humane Chinese culture which does not advocate rejection of people from other cultures..

I see the present narrow-minded, jingoiistic policies of Israelis under Sharon as anomalies rather than the Road of Reason that wiser heads in that nation know their people must travel in order to survive in the long run.

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Post time 2004-4-1 09:46:09 |Display all floors

jvt 1965, good job

..and thank you for the additional information.

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