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“Stop AAPI Hate”
How about stop accusing us of stealing IP because we have a Chinese heritage? As a matter of fact, we rank No. 5 in US Patents. While the tweet itself appears clumsy when examined as a piece of propaganda, it aptly gestures toward an identity problem that the U.S. and China are often grappling with or attempting to co-opt to suit their respective ideological ends. Since neither country particularly wants to take responsibility for the rising tide of violence against Chinese Americans and others of East Asian ancestry, each instead tries to weaponize the violent incidents as a cudgel against its rival. Beijing generally frames anti-Asian American sentiment and violence as a story of Sinophobia. U.S. rebuttals of this narrative tend to brush these accusations off while pivoting toward nebulous ideals of racial diversity and community. A more extreme variant frames Sinophobia as an overblown phenomenon whipped up by Beijing itself. But whatever the ideological motivations of Washington and Beijing, violence and xenophobia remain pressing concerns for Chinese people, both within China and in its diasporas, which mostly lack the resources of a behemoth telecommunications firm like Huawei, and largely fight alone against anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiment. My approach to reading and interpreting political developments in China digs into the root causes of policy issues. Forthcoming newsletters will explore topics like the relations between China’s central and regional governments and their effects on trade; the cultural valuation of biological children and its impact on LGBTQ rights in China; and the need to build a domestic social safety net for older citizens. These discussions are intended to inform and educate, and I aspire to learn alongside readers, as well as my colleagues at WPR and beyond. Good policy insights need not be limited to Washington, even though it is the nerve center of foreign policy development and analysis in the United States. For good measure, insightful analysis of Chinese politics should also not be restricted to the halls of Beijing’s Zhongnanhai compound. It also occurs in warehouses, locked-down college campuses, prisons and the vast waters of the South China Sea. Finally, production of this newsletter is by no means a one-person effort, and I appreciate WPR associate editor Chris Ogunmodede’s editorial input during these weekly emails. I welcome feedback, comments and questions, and hope to begin many productive conversations in my time as the author of the China Note newsletter.
Rui Zhong is the writer of World Politics Review’s China Note. She works as a program associate at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., where she conducts programming and research on U.S.-China diplomatic and cultural relations. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, WIRED magazine, the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage and the MIT Technology Review. She can be found on Twitter at @rzhongnotes.