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No offend Chinese women – the origin of the Beijing protest

January 17th, 2006 . by Matt

chinese women
The Beijing protest was also protesting alleged rapes of Chinese girls by African students

In 1989 there was a massive protest of students in Beijing protesting against government policies. The protest was crushed by the government after negotiations broke down. This was not the first protest in China, but was the culmination of a number of protests, the among the largest of which were the anti African protests of Nanjing four months before. In these protests is the genesis of the anti government protests.

From December 1988 to January 1989, students in Nanjing, China waged violent protests against visiting African students. These protests became the precursor to the nationwide pro-democracy movement in the spring of 1989, which resulted in the massacre of Chinese students by armed troops in Tiananmen Square. Displaying an uneven combination of racial tension, nationalism, and reformism, the Nanjing protests fused mass hostility toward visiting African students with official nationalist discourse to create the momentum for a popular movement for political change. At the same time, they marked the denouement of China’s proclaimed leadership of the “Third World” with long-term consequences for Sino-African relations. Yet, these protests were neither isolated events, as the Chinese government claimed, nor simply outbreaks of general xenophobia directed at all foreigners. Frank Dikötter has traced various discourses of race in China from the late nineteenth century based on myths of origins, ideologies of blood, and narratives of biological descent that have been central to the cultural construction of Chinese identity. Barry Sautman attributes the rise of anti-Africanism among the Chinese intelligentsia in the reform era (1978-present) to the return of racial stereotyping and elitist values dating back to Imperial China that link and denigrate those who are dark and those who are poor.

The article continues –

The Chinese government restored the African scholarship program in the mid-1970s and began sending African students to universities outside of Beijing. As China opened itself to the capitalist world market with a series of reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping from 1978, its Third World identity became little more than a propaganda tool. In contrast to official statements supporting revolutionary movements in Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960s, the CCP in the late 1970s and 1980s markedly downplayed Third World themes in the media. In addition, local authorities often excused, and sometimes justified, anti-African prejudice among Chinese students. For example, the Shanghai incident of July 1979 was triggered by complaints of loud music played by African students and culminated in an attack of the foreign student hall in which the African students lived. Although Chinese press commentaries admitted that the Chinese students attacked the African students, they also implied that “drunken and womanizing” Africans were prone to troublemaking. Moreover, contact between African men and Chinese women was the source of numerous clashes between Chinese and African students in the 1980s as well as the grounds for arrests and deportations of Africans.

The Nanjing protests in December 1988 were triggered by a series of confrontations between African and Chinese students at Hehai University. The conflict intensified on December 24 when two African male students who were escorting two Chinese women to a Christmas Eve party on campus were stopped at the front gate and ordered to register their guests. A new university regulation that restricted registration procedures for guests visiting foreign students had been implemented in October of that year to stop African male students from consorting with Chinese women in their dormitories. A quarrel between one of the African students and the Chinese security guard escalated into a brawl between African and Chinese students that lasted until the next morning and resulted in the injury of eleven Chinese and two Africans. On the next day, 300 Chinese students, angered by a rumor that a Chinese man had been killed by an African student the previous evening, stormed the African students’ dormitory chanting, “Kill the Black Devils!” The police arrived to restore order two hours later. Fearing for their safety, over 60 African students left for the railway station to reach their embassies in Beijing. Local authorities prevented them from boarding the trains in order to retain those involved in the Christmas Eve brawl. In response, about 140 foreign students, including other African students in Nanjing and a dozen non-African foreign students, sat-in at the train station to demand that they be allowed to board a train for Beijing.

Meanwhile, Chinese students at Hehai University mobilized students from other universities in Nanjing to protest what was perceived as special treatment for foreigners and to demand justice for the alleged murder of a Chinese man the night before. Approximately 3,000 students marched in the streets, singing the national anthem and chanting, “Down with Black Devils!” On December 26, the student demonstrators from Hehai University marched to the provincial government office to demand that the African students be held responsible for their crimes according to the full force of Chinese law. Holding a banner that read, “Protect Human Rights,” the demonstrators demanded the reform of a corrupt legal system that privileged foreigners at the expense of ordinary Chinese. That evening, a group of more than 3,000 Chinese students marched to the railway station with banners calling for the protection of human rights, political reform, and justice. The African students were immediately sequestered by the police to a military guest house in Yizheng, 60 kilometers northeast of Nanjing. The police declared the student demonstrations illegal and, with the help of riot police from neighboring provinces, quelled the demonstrations in the next few days. By early January 1989, the authorities arrested and deported three African students from Hehai University who were suspected of instigating the Christmas Eve brawl and sent the remaining students back to Nanjing. The African students were instructed to report to their school authorities before leaving their campuses and to not go out at night. Furthermore, the Hehai University president, Liang Ruiji, announced that African students were required to continue registering their guests at the front gate and were restricted to no more than one Chinese girlfriend whose visits would be limited to the lounge area.

Ah, those cheeky Africans and their ‘drunken and womanising’ ways. Which is a far cry from Chinese propaganda posters preaching solidary with minorities.

“Firmly support American Blacks in their righteous struggle!”

There is also an article about this in wikipedia, and an interesting bit of trivia is that actress Mira Sorvino actually did her undergraduate thesis on this.

Seventeen years later and it seems like Black Africans are still up to their old tricks, except this time it is African English teachers.

 本报讯(记者刘英才 郭少峰)前日午夜,中国矿业大学上演“蝙蝠侠”,一名外国黑人小伙子从4楼自己家中爬出,趴在了3楼窗台上。当时几名年轻人正在砸该男子居住的4楼铁门,并对围观群众说他们的两名女同事 被关在里面。








This is beyond my ability to translate line by line, but I will write the gist of it (maybe a Chinese person can translate it line by line for the benefit of the readers, in case I have made a mistake).

An African guy took two Chinese girls to his house (presumably by consent because it doesnt say they were forced). Later, the friends of the two girls appear at the door of the apartment, knocking on the door. The girls friends also try to call the mobile phones of the two girls inside, but they dont answer. The African guy gets scared and climbs out of the window of his apartment and escapes, calling the police. He tells the police that the people at his door want to beat him up. The police come and the situation is defused. The other local residents insist that the African guy apologise, commenting that he brings a lot of different Chinese girls back to his place. The African guy refuses to apologise. The African guy is an English teacher in Beijing.

It seems to me that the African guy is being asked to apologise because he is African – I have been looking hard for another angle on this one, and cant find it. Still, if he really is bringing as many girls back to his apartment as the local residents claim he is, Chinese racism cant be that bad. The African guys reaction seems rather extreme as well – maybe he has been in trouble for dating Chinese girls before, and thus called the police to protect him.

When will human beings get over this hang up about inter racial dating? Just let it be.

14 Responses to “No offend Chinese women – the origin of the Beijing protest”

  1. comment number 1 by: nig

    “When will human beings get over this hang up about inter racial dating? Just let it be.”

    Problems with inter-racial dating stem from race groupings and national generalisations. So I would suggest that first step in improving the situation is for people to take a look at their own racial generalisations and see if they are perhaps borne from prejudice rather than experience.

    Just speaking broadly of course. I am not referring to anyone in particular. I am sure that noone could conclude that I was orientating my comments towards an individual or group in any way in fact. Not at all.

  2. comment number 2 by: BananaBoi

    From my own experience, Koreans are very much against inter-racial dating. Every time I try to converse with a korean girl, I always get blocked by other koreans. This doesn’t happen when I try to chat up with girls from other nationalities.

  3. comment number 3 by: takeshima

    Bananaboi, Coreans men are champion, gold medal winning C 0 CK blockers. They are fearful that given a choice “their” women would never choose them. That sure must sting .. huh nig. Seeing all “your” women with whites, japanese, and blacks, and all you got is your hand. kakakkkakakakkakakakkakakakak…..

    anyway, this article is very interesting. I would not be suprised that coreans do such things, but I assumed china was more civilized. I guess this was 15 years ago.

  4. comment number 4 by: nig


    “Bananaboi, Coreans men are champion, gold medal winning C 0 CK blockers.”

    They would have to find it to block it. I would imagine that could pose a problem in your case Takeshima.

  5. comment number 5 by: tomato

    Maybe Japan should disclose to China the role the Koreans played in the invasion of China during the 15 year-war, so China and Korea may fight each other till the end.

  6. comment number 6 by: nig


    “I guess this was 15 years ago.”

    So you have other problems apart from the obvious ones. Did you skip Maths classes in school or were you just in a “special” class?

  7. comment number 7 by: takeshima

    NIg are you really following my posts around like a puppy dog. Nitpicking on any detail. Kakakakakka…. get a life. I hear vank is looking for some mindless coreans to flood website.

  8. comment number 8 by: nig


    I’m your biggest fan.

  9. comment number 9 by: takeshima

    Nig = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll#Disruptive_trolls

  10. comment number 10 by: nig

    Takeshima = http://notveryimaginativeorintelligent.com

  11. comment number 11 by: kenji808

    Hey Matt,

    I was wondering if maybe it was possible to get a forum going on this site for the issues that you cover. You deal with mostly Asian issues and alot of people here are obviously very passionate and I think if we had a place to talk about anything it might work a little better. Im not saying that your stories are uninteresting, I’m just suggesting that since some people have issues that you don’t cover it would be nice to have a place to talk about misc subjects. You could also be the beastly moderator that gets to strike down the trolls that sometimes roam your site.

  12. comment number 12 by: darintenb

    kenji808 (and anyone else who’s interested):
    I had setup a forum on mine that was to be basically what you just mentioned but never really linked to it or had it running.. if anyone wants to use it, go ahead:
    I have sections for English and Japanese language, but I could also make Chinese/Korea/whatever sections if anyone wants..

  13. comment number 13 by: Redskins84

    “From my own experience, Koreans are very much against inter-racial dating. Every time I try to converse with a korean girl, I always get blocked by other koreans. This doesn’t happen when I try to chat up with girls from other nationalities. ”

    I don’t block people for talking to the girl. Bitch is a bitch.

  14. comment number 14 by: Redskins84

    “From my own experience, Koreans are very much against inter-racial dating. Every time I try to converse with a korean girl, I always get blocked by other koreans. This doesn’t happen when I try to chat up with girls from other nationalities. ” What does korean has to do with this article?