15 April 2008

Kristallnacht in Lhasa: A Tale of Two Race Riots

The Western Confucian blogs about race riots in Lhasa, and compares them with similar race riots directed against Chinese and Korean shop-keepers in Los Angeles in 1992.

The Western Confucian: A Tale of Two Race Riots:
I see very little difference between the Lhasa Riots of 2008 and the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Both arose out of real or perceived systemic injustice. Both targeted entrepreneurial peoples known as Han, Chinese (漢) on the one hand and Koreans (韓) on the other. Both left dozens dead. Both the Chinese and American authorities were perhaps not blameless in the attempts to restore order.

But the reactions to both race riots have been quite different. While there were some people who blamed the events of 1992 on American injustice and racism, there was nowhere near the rabid anti-Chinese sentiment one sees on display today. I don't recall any anti-American demonstrations being held in foreign cities or foreign governments censuring the United States.

Another parallel that springs to mind is Kristallnacht that took place in Germany in 1938. The main difference, however, is that Kristallnacht was government sponsored, while those mentioned by the Western Confuctian were not.


Adam Gonnerman said...

The Llasa riots stem from an ethnic group feeling invaded and overwhelmed in their own land by outsiders. It certainly isn't fair to the individual Han people, but the underlying cause is easy to see. Tibetan youth are frequently taken to cities in China for higher education, an education that focuses on all things Chinese, and nothing Tibetan. The territory is completely under Chinese authority and control, and there has been a history of religious persecution. The Chinese government only knows how to make the Dalai Lama out to be a villain. Indeed, if it even showed that it was considering talking with him, the official position would be weakened. It is a nasty situation all around.

Steve Hayes said...


Think of a parallel examples -- the treatment of white farmers in Zimbabwe, or the treatment of Westerners who are beheaded in Iraq -- these too undoubtedly stem from an ethnic group feeling of being overwhelmed in their own land by outsiders, so the underlying cause is easy to see. But it's interesting to see that the Western media find the underlying cause easier to see when the victims are white rather than when they are Chinese.


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