Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Minister, calls on Japan and South Korea to Work Together Because They Look Similar.
East Asian countries of China, Japan, and South Korea had a trilateral forum a few days ago where the Chinese foreign minister made a remark that angered so many around the world.
“When Chinese, Japanese or Korean people travel to the US, the Americans can’t even tell us apart,” Wang Yi claimed. “If we go to Europe, the situation will certainly be the same.”
Now, it’s easier to take offence from that, given that a Danish, French, or Dutch in Beijing, Seoul, or Tokyo will equally be hard to distinguish. He went further,
Wang argued that people from the Far East “cannot become” Europeans or Americans, “even if we dye our hair white or have surgery to straighten our noses,”. “We have to know our roots,” he added.
Let’s dig into this, shall we? It is fair to say that the Chinese treat ethnicity and nationality in almost the same way. The West, except for the two North American giants of the US and Canada should be removed from our illustration. Let’s use Western Europe, likely the most tolerant, welcoming, progressive, and developed place on earth, you can beat around the bush all you want, the truth doesn’t care about your feelings. Nowhere on earth is as developed as Europe (especially, western Europe) – period.
Almost every country in western Europe encompasses a homogeneous ethnic group with an overwhelming majority; Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and Belgium have a slight mix up. Switzerland has 63% German, 22% French, and about 9% Italian. Spain has about 16% Catalan, 5% Galician, 1% Basque. Belgium has 59% Flemish and 40% French. Italy has 8% Sicilian or roughly 5 million.
Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Luxemburg, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Greece, Slovenia, Czech Republic, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland (as a single entity), Spain, Portugal, etc. These countries are vastly homogeneous. Now, western Europe has a history of invading and colonising countries, descendants of these colonies poured into western Europe in the early 19th century, so, western Europe has gotten used to diversity, they too, had a time when they’d make statements like the Chinese foreign minister. Actually, some still do, albeit behind closed doors since Europe is unprecedentedly speeding towards the left.
China, South Korea, and Japan are the most homogeneous places on earth, over 90%, 95%, and 98% respectively. They are new to this seeing a black person called Dikembe Mutombo presenting a Norwegian or Austrian passport, it doesn’t make sense to them. Why? Because they use ethnicity and nationality interchangeably.
Nationality in its contemporary usage infers a national of a political entity, whilst ethnicity denotes an ethnic group. The etymology of the word may differ, but its contemporary usage has shifted slightly. You can be ethnically Polish, but a national of England. Your nationality does not erode your ethnicity. I can see why Europeans especially were angered by the statement. This is because Europeans are experienced with multiculturalism, way ahead of others when it comes to the separation of ethnicity and nationality. You can see that in their football national team.
It is normal in China to call a mixed-race person from a black and a Chinese parent foreigner. They are very new to this concept. Wang Yi’s statement borderlines that misconception, this is new to China, and to some extent, the twosome, far-eastern democracies of South Korea and Japan.
Remember when I said except for the North American giants of the US and Canada? Now, let’s get back to them, shall we?
The US and Canada are inorganic states, today’s occupants of these territories moved in there from all over the world, so it is in their DNA to understand and differentiate ethnicity from nationality without qualms. European countries were named after their ethnicities, or, most if not all organic countries are named after their ethnicity.
In the US and Canada, you’d find both nationals clearly stating their ethnicities, which are mostly European in way of pinpointing their origin, this however, does not negate the fact that they are Canadian or American. China is a long shot from this, but they are catching up, if there is one thing that China is good at, it is catching up quickly.
Yes, the statement was unnecessary, but in the context Wang Yi was directing at, it made sense. It was not racist. Japan invaded both China and Korea ravishing through them without care, the scars are left all over these countries. Japan and South Korea are now cosying with the US and the West whose goal is to retain a unipolar world where their dominance prevails forever, China is defying this unipolarity thus putting them at loggerheads with the US and its allies, the latter includes Japan and South Korea.
It was in that context that Wang Yi was driving. He wants them to work together and drop the animosity, you can beat around the bush all you want, but ethnic and cultural similarities make for good bonding – it is that simple. The European’s ethnic and cultural similarities, make for the EU’s founding and continuous success possible. That’s why Turkey (or Türkiye, whatever they now want it called) will never join the EU, but Ukraine, even at its devastated state, will join. See the video below…
Writer: – Ikechukwu Orji –