“Zero Tolerance Toward Racism Against Foreigners”

The following article was featured by ChinaDaily, the official English State media channel.

WeChat Official Account: ExpatRights

Things have turned ugly for Shandong University’s foreign students’ “buddy program”.

While the university has apologized for the “negative effect” caused by its choice of words such as “making friends with foreigners of the opposite sex” on the application form to hire Chinese students for the program — a universal practice which aims to help a student better adapt to the new environment on a foreign campus — a stream of racist vitriol has continued to ferment online, targeting not only the university but foreigners at large as well. Some have called on the authority to take immediate action to block the entry of “foreign garbage” into the country.

Racist rants against foreigners are not uncommon, usually reviling them for having sex with easily duped innocent young Chinese women, using drugs and spreading AIDS.

The usual racist tropes. Negative news about foreigners, such as the recent incident in which seven foreign teachers and nine foreign students at a language school in Jiangsu province were busted for drugs, only serves to strengthen the ingrained prejudice against what some see as “foreign losers” in China.

To be fair, with Han Chinese accounting for more than 90 per cent of the population, China has never exhibited the extreme racism that is evident in some Western countries.

Nevertheless, there should be zero tolerance toward racism and discrimination in any form, and it should be stamped down on whenever it raises its ugly head, especially with the increasing exchanges between China and the rest of the world.

Rather than shun the topic which has long been a taboo in China, we should tackle racist slurs head-on, using facts to refute rumours related to foreigners and even legal weapons to deter hate speeches and acts. Of the more than 140 million foreigners who entered China last year, the number of those who committed crimes is negligible.

That’s why the country’s immigration department is streamlining procedures to make it easier for foreigners to get long-term visas and even permanent residence permits, so as to attract more foreign talents to the country.

As China opens wider and becomes a more popular destination for foreigners, all Chinese need to be more confident when dealing with foreigners, not looking up to them, nor looking down on them, instead, treating them as equals, no matter where they come from.

Meanwhile, as the heated discussions continue over how Shandong University and other Chinese institutions of higher learning offer preferential treatment, including high scholarships to foreign students — which has understandably sparked resentment among their domestic peers — the education authorities must convincingly justify the practice.

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