The fear of Chinese culture in known by the Latin term, Sinophobia. The fear of Chinese culture may occur for many reasons. Racism can play a role. As well, the religious beliefs and cultural mores of China may be difficult for some people to understand.
Reason For Sinophobia
The political system at play in China is a trigger for this fear. The lack of a true democracy may make many people wary of Chinese culture. Tibet is currently a subject of fierce debate in world politics, because the Chinese government has ruled Tibet for 40 years and refused to honor their culture. Human rights violations against Tibet by Chinese authorities are the subject of campaigns by Amnesty International and other watchdog organizations.
According to protestors, Chinese police have fired guns at those who stage protests of the Chinese goverment’s treatment of Tibet. They have allegedly killed those who speak up for the rights of Tibet.
The Chinese government is atheist, but most Chinese people practice either Buddhism or Daoism. The right to worship freely in China did not come into being until 1978. Before that time, the Communist regime frowned upon pagodas, temples, and prayers. Prior to 1978, people were forced to practice their religions in secret. This atmosphere of fear can contribute to Sinophobia in some people.
Communism Is A Trigger For The Fear Of Chinese Culture
The Communist Party Of China was created in Shanghai in 1928. Today, the Chinese government is a product of totalitarianism and the remnants of Stalinism. Those who are uneasy with China’s communist regime point to a marked increase in Capitalism in the country, based in its active commerce with Capitalist nations. However, the Communist Party has ruled China with an iron fist for over six decades.
In 2008. an active protest against the Communist regime was staged in an attempt to bring about a boycott of the 2008 Olympics in China. The anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of over 20 years ago was a potent reminder of China’s harsh treatment of those who oppose the restriction of basic rights and freedoms.
Dragons, Lanterns, and Superstitions
Many Chinese people still subscribe to superstitions that have been present in their culture for hundreds of years. For those with the fear of Chinese culture, these superstition seem out of date and they are a symbol of magic and mysticism. The dragons which are animated by people during New Year’s celebrations are a symbol of Imperial power. This makes some opponents of China’s Imperial history uncomfortable.
One common Chinese superstition that may contribute to Sinophobia in the afflicted is: not washing one’s hair on New Year’s Day, because you will be washing away good luck. Not using knives on New Year’s Day is also common, because they will “cut” away luck for the coming year. To people who find such superstitions silly or offensive, fear of Chinese culture may result from knowledge of such rituals.
Some people find the sound of the Chinese language confusing, and this fear of foreign languages may comprise more than just a fear of Chinese words and speech. For those who are only comfortable with their own mother tongue, the sounds of other languages can trigger a sort of racist response. People who frown upon immigration and those who come to their country speaking another language may suffer from Sinophobia around Chinese natives. This is also known as Xenophobia.
The symptoms of Sinophobia are nausea, terror, avoidance, and extreme and persistent anxiety. People with the fear of Chinese culture will take great pains to avoid contact with Chinese people, communities such as local “Chinatowns”, and any Chinese products or symbols. They will shun the whole Chinese culture in order to avoid their symptoms.
Determining the root of this phobia is the first step towards relieving symptoms. Psychotherapy can get at the heart of any racism or underlying elements that trigger the phobia. Education and tolerance can be beneficial to sufferers. A course of anti-depressants may be prescribed to ease anxiety.