Neither new nor original: Draft statue with anti-Chinese stereotypes (1881)
Image: mauritius images / Alamy / History and Art Collection
Danger or redemption? For more than a hundred years, the image that people in the western world of the mighty “Middle Kingdom” has been changing. Why is it when the perspectives keep changing?
W.he doesn’t know the Statue of Liberty, which welcomes visitors to New York from afar? On the other hand, its counterpart in San Francisco on the west coast is hardly known any more: “The statue for our port”. However, it was only available as a sketch: The colored drawing was published in 1881, made by George Keller, an immigrant from Prussia. The statue does not carry the Declaration of Independence, nor does it welcome the newcomers. On the contrary: it shows a Chinese “coolie” with a long plait and torn clothes. At his feet, not the broken chains of oppression, but an army of filthy, contagious rats. The xenophobic slogans that were used to stir up the mood against Chinese immigrants in California at that time always resorted to a vocabulary of bacilli, the transmission of diseases, the spread of epidemics. In Keller’s caricature, too, the torch does not show the way to freedom, but rather heralds disaster: “dirt”, “immorality” and “disease”.
When the American President Donald Trump described the spread of the corona epidemic as the “China Virus” in March 2020, it was neither new nor original. Trump used imagery and chains of associations that go back to the 19th century. Nor was he the only one. In many countries, anti-Chinese stereotypes were called up again and entered the public debate unfiltered. In Germany, the Spiegel brought the resentment with its cover picture – “Corona virus: Made in China” – on the inglorious point.
#China #West #Yellow #Peril