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5 Jul, 2023 10:54

Don’t try to be like Westerners – China’s top diplomat

Many Americans and Europeans can’t distinguish between people from different Far East nations, Wang Yi told a regional forum
Don’t try to be like Westerners – China’s top diplomat

The Chinese Communist Party’s foreign policy chief has called on East Asians not to mimic Westerners, while making the case for improved regional integration at a three-way forum with Japan and South Korea.

“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.”

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,” according to a video from the event, shared by Chinese media. “We have to know our roots,” he added.

The senior policymaker said China should have closer cooperation with Japan and South Korea – which both have pro-Western governments – arguing that this would “not only meet our common goals and aspirations of our people,” but also benefit the region and the world in general.

The remarks were filmed during a panel discussion at the annual International Forum for Trilateral Cooperation, which took place on Monday in Qingdao, in China’s Shandong Province.

Some Western media outlets, such as CNN, reported on the video, accusing the diplomat of making “racialized comments” but without mentioning that the remarks were a critique of purported Western attitudes and attempts to appease them.

One pundit focused on Wang’s apparent call for ethnic solidarity between East Asians against the West, saying: “Imperial Japan really leaned into that as it expanded, eventually declaring a ‘Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’, with conquest styled as win-win racial liberation.”

The throwback to World War II and Japanese ethnic cleansing in conquered parts of Asia, including China and Korea, came from Joel Atkinson, a professor specializing in Northeast Asian international politics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. He suggested that the atrocities were an attempt “to replace Western influence with a new Japanese hegemony.”

Despite long-standing historical grievances, Japan and South Korea maintain close military ties in their roles as allies of the US, which views China as a strategic rival. Both have been hosting American troops on their soil for decades.