Perhaps the most egregious implication made in a recent meeting with (REDACTED), after having time to reflect on what was said, was that my innocuous use of the term “China Virus”, rather than “SARS-CoV-2”, to describe an era was interpreted as insensitive to the school’s Asian community. I would like to provide some information to illuminate why I consider the term “China Virus” innocuous and how there may be a segment of our Asian student population that feel the same.
In 1990, less than a year after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, I lived, traveled, and studied at XXXXX University in Guangdong China. My name during that time was Tse Kai Tze–my son’s middle name incidentally is Kai. My advisor at the time informed me that due to the fact that I would wander from the University and make friends with the Chinese people, I had the unique distinction of attracting extra scrutiny from Chinese government officials. Yet still I wandered, as I had a thirst for knowledge and did not allow language barriers or that extra scrutiny to prevent me from seeking it.
The Chinese people at that time were most inquisitive, at considerable risk to themselves, about what I knew about T’iananmen Square. The people knew their Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government was lying to them. I have official government publications from that time, they are excellent examples of propaganda. My favorite memory is having dinner (twice) in a village farmhouse of a new friend, cooked by the two grandmothers in a two-wok outdoor kitchen. My senior thesis was the relationship between China and Hong Kong after the 1999 turnover.
Due to the friendships I made and kept for quite some time (with most migrating to Hong Kong), and my area of study, I have kept a keen interest in the Pro- Democracy movement of Hong Kong. Thus, I am aware that the Pro-Democracy movement in Hong Kong (ethnically Chinese) purposefully use the term “China Virus” in order to keep attention on the fact that the CCP is not virtuous and is not living up to the 50-year promise. There are many examples of this if one had the curiosity to search out Hong Kong Pro-Democracy forums and other sources, but I will give you one. This article entitled “Why Hong Kong Protestors Insist on Calling it the Chinese Coronavirus”, from the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), which is considered the third most reliable press outlet in Hong Kong:
There is also the view that using the term “China Virus” should be considered racist, as you read in that last article. It would again behoove us all, however, to seek information to determine where this view originates. This article tells us that the view originates from the CCP, which has no problem using geographical terms to describe other diseases (Spanish Flu).
It is quite telling, however, when one discovers that the CCP refers to the Hong Kong Pro-Democracy movement and the Muslim Uyghurs as a “virus”, as can be seen in this May 5, 2020 Radio Free Asia article.
Read that article to the end and you will discover that the same CCP that admonishes the use of the term “China Virus” but uses the term “virus” to describe other Chinese, also defends the internment of up to 1.8 million Uyghurs in “re-education hospitals”. In the words of the Communist Party Youth League of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2017:
“That is why they must be admitted to a re-education hospital in time to treat and cleanse the virus from their brain and restore their normal mind,”
Then there is Taiwan, which today is facing constant threat from CCP China, refers to SARS-CoV-2 as “Wuhan Pneumonia”, the Mandarin version of “China Virus”. Taiwan is where the Chinese Democratic government of Sun Yat-Sen and Chiang Kai-Shek fled after being defeated by the CCP and has always been considered a “renegade territory” by the CCP. We learn from this VOA article that while the Government of Taiwan largely avoids using “Wuhan Pneumonia” out of fear of CCP retaliation, the people of that nation-under-threat do use the term.
Also consider that China is not a free society, one is not free to simply pick up and emigrate. Also please consider that the assumption that Chinese immigrants (even the ones that snuck out) are free from CCP control is false. The CCP will go to great lengths to get relatives of those that have fled to provide personal data, thus extending Chinese governmental influence on overseas Chinese. Take for instance this NYPD officer that worked on behalf of the CCP to control overseas Chinese citizens.
This Department of Justice report would be a good place to start to learn more about the control the CCP and what it may be like to live under CCP rule, and the needs of those that are fortunate enough to escape… some of them may even be in our classrooms.
I hope this information gives you some insight into my Character, and perhaps the curiosity to inquire further– I have not even brought up some of the Historical Asian-Sino relations such as Korea and Japan. The intent was to expose the reality that there may be a group of students of Asian descent (a term which describes a wide variety of cultures, not just Chinese), with a view different than “it is a threatening term to the Asian community”. If I were a student whose family had escaped China, or moved from Taiwan, which view would generate more trust in school officials? Surely not the one espoused by the Government that was threatening my relatives or my former Country?
More importantly, I would like to point out that my views are not based on emotion or ignorance, but on experience, knowledge, and my interpretation of the facts. It is imperative that we strive to seek out the best information available and practice discernment with what we do find; we should strive to ensure we are not repeating someone else’s opinion as fact and not impugn the character of others because they do not share our own view.