The Roots of the Pandemic’s Racial Narrative

May 5, 2020 Updated: May 5, 2020


Being married to a woman of mainland Chinese descent, I have a somewhat unique perspective on the racial narrative currently surrounding the pandemic.

Through study and osmosis, I have come to understand many distinctions between traditional Chinese culture and the authoritarian nature of the ruling communist regime in Beijing. Having experienced both the freedom of the West and the confines of China, my wife is well aware of the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) control tactics, used not only in her home country but here in Canada as well.

Traditional Chinese culture contains a profound body of wisdom and allure that the West has largely yet to discover. We are raising our two young children with an emphasis on Chinese culture, studying traditional teachings such as the analects of Confucius and Shaolin kung fu. With 5,000 years of recorded history to its credit, China has innumerable anecdotes, stories, legends, and ledgers that detail a splendid civilization steeped in both the mystical and practical, with a knack for combining both with great success. This heritage is and will always be a critical part of our children’s upbringing as a north star for their other endeavours. But we make a clear distinction between the Chinese regime of today and the true inheritance of their ancestry.

My wife and I have closely followed the actions of the CCP over the last 10-plus years and the subsequent impact the regime has had on the people of China. Our relatives and friends have suffered arbitrary arrest and detention for such benign “crimes” as accessing websites that promote democracy and traditional Chinese culture.

We keep ourselves informed of some of the lesser-known news coming out of mainland China and are keenly aware of the predicament of Chinese dissidents who are critical of their government but keep silent, fearing the consequences of speaking out.

Having witnessed the deceptive tactics of the CCP play out in China, it is with increasing alarm that we see their influence growing in Canada, affecting media, government, and public perception. Much of this is carried out through the United Front Work Department, whose task is to advance China’s influence overseas. The CCP is skilled at this deception, having implemented it domestically for decades. In Canada, we have little experience with such duplicitous tactics and are susceptible to being unduly persuaded by them.

The CCP has placed great emphasis on influencing foreign nations through financial and cultural means, using this “soft power” approach to control the China narrative. But we must never forget that this is the same regime that unleashed the Tiananmen Square massacre. The only change is that today they are more cognizant of the potential international fallout from carrying out such brutality in public view. As such, they are adept at thought control and covering up their blunders.

The Racism Lie

Although racism and bigotry exist here, Canada overall is a very tolerant country. Racism is a sensitive issue, and being labelled a racist is a potent way of erasing the validity of someone’s argument. The Chinese regime is well aware of this “weakness” in Canadians and has been actively taking advantage of it in shaping the national discourse around the pandemic. Any discussion around travel bans, the source of the virus, or China’s initial response and coverup are labelled as being xenophobic and prejudiced against the Chinese people.

We have seen this play out in both the media and government, which have each conflated criticism of the Chinese government with criticism of the Chinese people. It is a pernicious abdication of the pursuit of truth that is rooted in either ignorance or malicious intent. Beijing’s influence is such that the regime is capable of coercing all levels of government and the media into supporting its deception. Those who have suffered at the hands of the CCP, whether in the mainland, Hong Kong, or elsewhere are all too aware of the true nature of the party and are rightly disconcerted by the proclivity of democratic nations to accept the regime’s narrative without question.

Chinese Canadians are proud of their culture and justifiably sensitive to criticism that equates that culture with the CCP. In light of that, it is important that the distinction between the people and their government continues to be a front-and-centre part of the conversation. There are large and vocal Canadian communities and groups that have been working tirelessly for years to expose the crimes of the Chinese regime. Whether in support of Tibet, Hong Kong, Falun Gong, or Uighur Muslims, each has legitimate and unresolved grievances with the regime and consider it their duty to hold the CCP accountable. It is a noble and dignified effort that warrants support from our government and media, who are both in a position to support those efforts.

Open, honest, and critical conversations are a requisite if this pandemic is to be understood and the fallout mitigated by a full set of facts. Our path forward out of this mess depends on it. As Beijing attempts to shift blame for the outbreak and capitalize on a weakened global economy, it must be held accountable to the principles of transparency.

And here in the West, far removed from the tyranny of despots, we are in a position to lend support, if only moral, to the plight of the Chinese people. We can be forgiven for not having the capacity to fully understand what it is like to suffer at the hands of a brutal government that has no regard for human rights or even human life. We are blessed in that way.

We are not immune, however, and it is an inherent duty of the free to support the oppressed, if only to keep tyranny from encroaching upon our own shores.

Ryan Moffatt is a journalist based in Vancouver.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.