Letter to the Editor: A View of Ireland’s Yellow Peril from China

DÓD, People’s Republic of China

When I first broached the idea of moving to China with family and friends, I noticed a completely different response to when I’d lived in other countries in Asia or Europe. Though not all cited outlandish claims about organ-harvesting, concentration camps or made reference to George Orwell’s 1984, there was a very clear and present aura of unease about China and its government, and Irish people seemed to me more “informed” about Chinese policy and its system than any other country in the world!

When I arrived early this year the reality was much different to the theme of grey buildings enveloped in barbed wire and angry soldiers shouting at journalists as is generally depicted in reports from the BBC and other mainstream outlets.

I found to the consternation of liberals at home, that Chinese people are not, in fact a brainwashed, unthinking mass who are so indoctrinated that they can’t even comprehend the hellhole they were living in but ordinary people, like you’d find in any country in the world. I’ve had conversations with Chinese people about their system, their government, their revolutionary history and how they see their country progressing in the future. I’ve also had conversations about football, films (Chinese and international), music and everything in between. Some Chinese people love to talk about politics, some hate it. Some don’t care and would rather just get another round in. Some view the post-Deng era positively, some negatively. Either way, like in any country people have a wide-range of different views and are happy to share them with you (once you learn a little Chinese!).

In July, 2021, the Irish ambassador to Ireland posted an article in the Irish Times encouraging bilateral engagement between Ireland and China. The resulting reaction was the usual kneejerk grumblings of the Irish media’s begrudging commentariat.

On the contrary, in fact, some of the most negative, one-dimensional and racist views I’ve come across in China are from entitled Westerners, in particular Americans and British immigrants or as they like to be referred “ex-pats”. Plenty move to China to get easy, well-paid jobs as English teachers in private Kindergartens for wealthy Chinese people where many seem to do everything possible to pretend they aren’t living in China. Many have a complete sense of entitlement, refusing to learn Chinese out of sheer laziness and are happy to tell their Chinese colleagues about how brainwashed they are while they parrot US-state department talking points or debunked conspiracy theories about organ harvesting with zero critical thinking. It’s quite evident to see who the real brainwashed people are in this situation.

It’s not all bad however, since moving to China, I’ve been able to have some decent conversations with people back home, unfortunately it often takes a Westerner to tell the stories of the oft-maligned and ignored Chinese people, about the reality of life in China. It was easy for people to see the benefits of the Chinese system in controlling the pandemic (we haven’t had a case I where I live for weeks), and their heroic efforts at exporting vaccines, in spite of the Western press rallying against them, compared to our inability to eliminate COVID because of the demands of lobbying groups like IBEC.

Going forward I hope that Irish people look to their real enemies rather than looking to the ones created by the same papers that constantly publish pieces about how pandemic payments were bleeding us dry while our politicians gave themselves pay rises. The US, Britain and the EU are not nor have they ever been our friends, we shouldn’t fight their wars for them.

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