Yellow Peril

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Contemporary portrait of a hard-working Asian-American immigrant ready to defend the honour of his unwell European-descended fellow American from all attackers... I think.

The "Yellow Peril" was a term coined by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II,[1] to express the concern that the "civilized" world (aka the Anglo-Saxon empires) was in danger of being overrun by yellow-skinned (aka. Chinese and Japanese) hordes. Vestiges of it can still be found by turning over one of several rocks.

The core demographic anxiety was elaborated for the masses by claiming that Chinese immigrants underbid the wages of European workers and for elites by claiming that Chinese immigrants were unassimilable and a potential "Fifth Column" for a future resurgent Chinese Empire; so cultural and racial stereotyping for the hoi polloi and unbridgeable culture difference and cultural denigration for their rulers. For the last two centuries, European elites and their immigrant cousins in the Americas and Australia tended to conceive of China as the stagnant and despotic opposite of dynamic and liberal Europe.[2] The stagnant-dynamic part of that complex duality has pretty much shifted toward the Middle-Eastern countries, the new flavor of the generation.

The Chinese in America were the subject of one of the first drug-focused American moral panics. Chinese immigrants were blamed for the popularity of opium consumption among the European descended.[3] Hostility to East Asians in the United States was expressed in a series of Chinese Exclusion ActsWikipedia; similar policies existed in Australia and New Zealand.[4]

The fear was also displayed in the pulp fiction of the early 20th century,[5] best exemplified by Sax Rohmer's "Fu Manchu" (after whom the mustache is named) series. These tend to be slightly difficult to find these days due to their racist nature and unpleasant sexual undertones (Fu frequently offers his Asiatic conspirators white women in exchange for their services).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Barbara Tuchman. 1985. The Zimmermann Telegram. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0345324252.
  2. Alexander Lukin. 2003. The Baer Watches the Dragon: Russia's Perceptions of China and the Evolution of Russian-Chinese Relations Since the Eighteenth century. Armon, NJ: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-765610264.
  3. Mary Ting Yi Lui. 2005. The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-century New York City. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 27-32.
  4. See the Wikipedia article on White Australia policy.
  5. Martin Frost. 2008. Yellow Peril.
  6. Zhao Yongchen's tweet (The coward deleted it after it attracted too many white nationalists.)