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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Ferguson Sparks China’s Own Racial Conversation

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

Ferguson- It’s one of the hottest topics on the Internet at the moment, with thousands of posts tagged with related hashtags ranging from #fergusondecision to #fergusionriottips on Twitter. Interestingly enough, it’s also one of the hottest topics almost 8,000 miles across the world: in China. One of the hottest topics in the past day on China’s closest Twitter equivalent, Sina Weibo, is related to the Ferguson riots or 弗格森骚乱 as it’s tagged.

As in America, much of the conversation is around race and democracy. It’s not surprising that it’s being discussed in China; it’s being reported around the world. The interesting part, however, is how the discussion has sparked conversation around events that are very personal to China. In addition to sympathy, vaguely racist posts, and the expected comments on American double standards and hypocrisy,

a lot of the conversation has turned to references to the Hong Kong protests, which make sense- there are some obvious parallels there.

Interestingly, a lot of the comments also refer to Guangzhou, a city in southern China.

Though seemingly arbitrary, Guangzhou is a place where issues over race- historically not particularly mainstream in homogenous China- have started to bubble up. Guangzhou, or “Chocolate City” as it’s often colloquially referred to in China, is a thriving port city that, because of the deepening ties between several African countries and China, has seen a large increase in Africans living there. Not too surprisingly, many marry local women and as a result, an unusually diverse and multicultural area has developed, and unfortunately with it, racial tensions. Africans have had a long presence in modern China, but have also had tumultuous relations with the Chinese community, which has surfaced in the wake of newer generations as more foreigners settle in China and marry into the local community. What it means to be Chinese has surfaced recently in cases like whether or not mixed African-Chinese contestant Lou Jing on the Voice of China or similarly biracial volleyball player Ding Hui are considered “Chinese.”

Though the bulk of the conversation is still political, as the US and China both try to find a comfortable place relative to each other and the world, the commentary on Guangzhou is in indication of a new China- a China that, as it asserts itself in the world as a global power, will have to figure out how to adjust to its own growing diversity.

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