Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

-Rudyard Kipling, The White Man’s Burden

When a racially aware and defensive non-westernised Chinese invokes the “evils” of Western imperialism, it is not so much that we do not like imperialism, after all, the West in the Opium War attacked an “Emperor”, we are merely annoyed that the West beat us to colonising the world.

Thus, while the West navel-gazes over their “White Guilt” and their imperialistic past, the Chinese are quietly engaging in a commericial imperialism and re-colonisation of Africa. The tragedy perhaps is that compared to the Africa’s Christianised Western masters of old, their new Chinese masters are severe and merciless taskmasters, so severe that even the Africans themselves are longing for their old British masters as the Zambian President then opposition leader Michael Sata puts it:

We want the Chinese to leave and the old colonial rulers to return. They exploited our natural resources too, but at least they took good care of us. They built schools, taught us their language and brought us the British civilisation. At least Western capitalism has a human face; the Chinese are only out to exploit us.

But of course, as long as the West continues to wring their hands over their White Guilt, they would never be able to say anything about it. This point is evident in an incident a few years ago when the Chinese condemned a British subject for drug trafficking and proceeded to have him executed. When the British government protested, the Chinese government bluntly refused and not too politely reminded the British that this was not the Opium War, they don’t get to tell us what to do anymore.

As such, perhaps the last force capable of tempering the world’s emerging new imperialists are the Chinese Christians, just as they did for the Western masters of old, for when an external critique becomes impossible, only an internal sanctification will avail…

One thought on “The New Chinese Imperialism and White Guilt; The Yellow Man’s Burden”
  1. Well, you have to ask yourself “which white man’s imperialism”?

    The legacies of different parts of Europe left different legacies and continue in different interactions with their former colonies. The French still make an effort to run their former colonies, you can look up the legacy of ELF and other shadowy government operatives in the reigns of the petty dictators throughout the west coast of Africa. Even today with French involvement in Mali, which is confusing to say the least. It wasn’t all colonialism with a “human face”.

    There are even counter arguments that colonialism hindered evangelism, and the spread of the gospel across Africa.

    But regardless, I hope Chinese believers don’t make the same mistake the West did. In doing that they’d only end up as the whore of babylon. That’s no sanctification within, but cruelty with a halo.

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