汉奸 — notes on China’s gendered racism (and it lives just like gendered racism in the United States)

The bloggers at 乌有之乡 continue to push neo-Maoism to its logical extremes. Today, Feb 21, one of the hotter posts is 今日汉奸知多少. The keyword here is 汉奸, which can be translated as “traitor to one’s country”, but literally refers to “a person who betrays the Han people (背叛汉族的人).” Thus, the article title, which clumsily (albeit patriotically) alludes to Meng Haoran’s poem (春晓), might be literally translated as “Who Knows How Many Are Betraying the Han People Today? as well as figuratively as “Who Knows How Many Are Betraying China Today?”

The slippage between betraying the Han people and betraying the Chinese people is a key difference in contemporary critiques of what’s wrong with Mainland society, reminding us that racism continues to shape these debates. It bears mentioning that 汉奸 debates are eerily similar to White supremacist concerns with race traitors because yes, the talk gets just as ugly just as quickly and yes, the loudest voices in the debates are also men who embody an ideal racial type.

For example, Mu Chuan identifies those who are not only corrupt, but like Guo Jingyi whose corruption leads to the transfer of Chinese resources to foreign multinationals as being Han traitors. This seems rather straightforward enough. However, Mu Chuan also accuses intellectuals like Xiao Han (萧瀚), a lawyer and proponent of making Chinese legal system more democratic as being 汉奸.  Continue reading