Yellow Peril (sometimes Yellow Terror) was a color metaphor for race, namely the theory that Asian peoples are a mortal danger to the rest of the world. In the words of the American historian John W. Dower: "the vision of the menace from the East was always more racial rather than national. It derived not from concern with any one country or people in particular, but from a vague and ominous sense of the vast, faceless, nameless yellow horde: the rising tide, indeed, of color." Dower described "the core imagery of apes, lesser men, primitives, children, madmen, and beings who possessed special powers", which had their origins in the wars between the ancient Greeks and Persians, and which the Yellow Peril theory later associated with East Asians. The Sinologist Leung Wing Fai wrote that: "The phrase yellow peril (sometimes yellow terror or yellow spectre), coined by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, in the 1890s, after a dream in which he saw the Buddha riding a dragon threatening to invade Europe, blends western anxieties about sex, racist fears of the alien other, and the Spenglerian belief that the West will become outnumbered and enslaved by the East". The American historian Gina Marchetti defined the Yellow Peril as being: "Rooted in medieval fears of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian invasions of Europe, the Yellow Peril combines racist terror of alien cultures, sexual anxieties and the belief that the West will be overpowered and enveloped by the irresistible, dark, occult forces of the East".
The term Yellow Peril was coined by German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1895, but the theory that Asian peoples represented a menace to the West originated in the late nineteenth century with Chinese immigrants as coolie slaves or laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States. It was later associated with the Japanese during the mid-20th century, due to Japanese military expansion, and eventually extended to all Asians of East and Southeast Asian descent.
The term refers to perceptions regarding the skin color of East Asians, the fear that the mass immigration of Asians threatened white wages and standards of living, the fear that Asians had some sort of unnatural sexuality that threatened Western women with rape and the fear that they would eventually take over and destroy western civilization, replacing it with their ways of life and values. The term also refers to the fear and or belief that East Asian societies would attack and wage wars with western societies and eventually wipe them out and lead to their total annihilation whether it be their societies, people, ways of life, history, and or cultural values.
- 1 Origins
- 2 The Boxer Rebellion
- 3 Germany & Russia
- 4 Australia
- 5 South Africa
- 6 United Kingdom
- 7 United States of America
- 8 New Zealand
- 9 Canada
- 10 France
- 11 Mexico
- 12 The Eastern Front
- 13 The Pacific War
- 14 The Korean War
- 15 The Historikerstreit
- 16 Sexual fears
- 17 Fiction
- 18 See also
- 19 Notes
- 20 Publications
- 21 External links
In the late 19th century, Chinese immigration to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada sparked a racist backlash against people who were willing to work hard for less than whites, and who were so different in appearance, language and culture from whites. In 1870, the French writer Ernest Renan warned of the danger from the East to the West, through in this case Renan primarily meant Russia. In the 1870s, working-class whites in California demanded that the U.S government stop the immigration of "filthy yellow hordes" from China who were supposedly responsible for the economic depression by taking away jobs from white Amerians. Horace Greeley, the editor of the New-York Tribune newspaper wrote in an editorial in support of Chinese exclusion that: "The Chinese are uncivilized, unclean, and filthy beyond all conception without any of the higher domestic or social relations; lustful and sensual in their dispositions; every female is a prostitute of the basest order.". Widespread dislike of the Chinese led to the Los Angeles pogrom in 1871 where 18 Chinese immigrants were killed by a white mob. Denis Kearney, the leader of the Workingmen's Party of California gained popularity in the 1870s-80s with his slogan: "The Chinese Must Go!". The pressure to ban Chinese immigration led to the U.S. Congress passing the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany coined the phrase "Yellow Peril" (German: gelbe Gefahr) in September 1895. The Kaiser, under the influence of the anti-Asian diplomat Max von Brandt had come to seen China as a rightful area for Germany to colonize and Japan, which had just defeated China in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), and had made major gains at the expense of China as a serious rival for dividing up the spoils of China. In the Triple Intervention of April 1895, Germany together with France and Russia had presented a diplomatic note to Japan forcing the Japanese to give up most of their gains in China. To justify the intervention, Wilhelm was from April 1895 onwards talking obsessively of the dangers posed the "yellow race" to the peoples of Europe.
In coining the phrase Yellow Peril, Wilhelm had formalized a term for racist fears about Asians that had common in the West since the mid-19th century, especially from 1870 or onwards. The Kaiser had an illustration of this title — depicting the Archangel Michael as an allegorical Germany leading the European powers against an "Asiatic threat" represented by a golden Buddha — hung in all ships of the Hamburg America Line. It was ostensibly designed by the Kaiser himself. The British historian John Röhl described Wilhelm's sketch which inspired the Yellow Peril painting as portraying European nations as "...prehistoric warrior-goddesses being led by the Archangel Michael against the "yellow peril" (represented by a Buddha) from the East". The painting was inspired by a dream that Wilhelm had, which Wilhelm took to be a prophecy of the coming, apocalyptic great "race war" between Europe and Asia which would decide the future of the 20th century. Wilhelm was a fanatical white supremacist who loathed Asian peoples, believed that it only a time before a "race war" began, and being an extremely egoistical man saw himself as the natural leader of the "white race" in the coming war against the "yellow peril". The Reich's claim for leadership in the coming "race war" was emphasized by portraying Germany as the Archangel Michael, whom the Book of Revelation prophesised would lead the armies of God into battle against the armies of the Anti-Christ at the battle of Armageddon. The fact that the other European nations were portrayed as women together with the caption calling on Europeans to defend their "dearest goods" was an elaborate sexual pun on the part of the Kaiser; in 19th Germany, the phrase "dearest goods" was slang for the female sexual organs. The painting's message was an extremely crude call to protect the vaginas of European women from being "defied" by sex with Asian men. After his dream, Wilhelm drew a sketch and then had his count painter Hermann Knackfuss turned it into the Yellow Peril painting. Wilhelm was so impressed that he sent copies of it out as his Christmas presents in 1895. The former Chancellor Bismarck received the painting as a present from the Kaiser, and through he did not quite understand what the painting was supposed to be about, hung up in a prominent place at his estate. The painting was very popular in its day, and was reprinted in the New York Times in 1898 under the title The Yellow Peril.
The Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 did much to feed the appeal of the idea of an Yellow Peril. The martial arts Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, known as the Boxers in the West was a fiercely xenophobic movement that blamed all of China's problems on the West, and set out to "save" China by killing all of the Westerners present in China together with all of the Chinese Christians. In the summer of 1900, the Chinese government allowed the Boxers into Beijing, where they were allowed to kill all Westerners and Chinese Christians and to lay siege to the foreign legations. The vast majority of the victims of the Boxers were Chinese Christians, but the massacres of thousands of Christian Chinese attracted little interest in the West, where public opinion were consumed with rage at the news that hundreds of Westerners had been killed. For different reasons, both Western and Chinese historians ignore the fact that the vast majority of the victims of the Boxers were fellow Chinese rather than Westerners. Traditionally, most Western historians were only interested in the story of Westerners being victimized by the Chinese. The official line in the People's Republic of China is that the Boxers were patriotic, if misguided Chinese heroes fighting Western imperialism; the fact that Boxers butchered without mercy those Chinese who happened to be Christian does not fit well into the official narrative.
The news that the Boxers had committed atrocities against Westerners had stirred deep racial hatreds and led to the war being perceived as a race war in which no mercy was to be given. The fact that the Boxers had killed all Westerners that came into their power including women and children was used for decades afterwards by Yellow Peril proponents to "prove" that all of the Chinese were a people with an intense, innate murderous hatred of all Westerners. "Boxerism" was the term used to describe the ultra-violent hatred of the West that was said to lurk with the souls of the Chinese. In 1905, the The Economist warned in a leader: “The history of the Boxer movement contains abundant warnings as to the necessity of an attitude of constant vigilance on the part of the European Powers when there are any symptoms that a wave of nationalism is about to sweep over the Celestial Empire.” Given the unwillingness of the Chinese government to protect the lives of foreign nationals living in China from the Boxers, the Eight-Nation Alliance of Britain, the United States, Japan, France, Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy was formed to provide an international expeditionary force to protect their citizens in China from the Boxers, and end the Siege of the International Legations in Beijing.
During the Boxer rebellion, the Russian press often used the term "Yellow Peril" and depicted the war in racial, religious terms as a conflict between "white", "Holy Russia" vs "yellow", "pagan China". The anti-Asian poems of the philosopher Vladmir Solovyov were often quoted in the Russian press during the Boxer Rebellion. Prince Sergei Nikolaevich Trubetskoy wrote a series of articles in the Russian press in 1900 denouncing the Chinese "yellow peril" and urging Russia together with the other nations to partition China to end it. In reaction to the Boxer rebellion on 3 July 1900, the Russian authorities expelled the entire Chinese community in Blagoveshchensk, leading to the deaths of thousands of Chinese who drowned in the Amur, and whose who refused to cross the Amur were shot down or axed by the police, Cossacks and local volunteers. According to Chinese sources, about 5,000 people reportedly died during these events of July 4–8, 1900. On 27 July 1900, Wilhelm gave a wildly racist speech in Bremerhaven to German soldiers departing to China to suppress the Boxer Uprising, calling on them to commit atrocities against Chinese civilians and to behave like "Huns". In the infamous Hunnenrede (Hun speech), Wilhelm declared:
"When you came before the enemy, you must defeat him, pardon will not be given, prisoners will not be taken! Whoever falls into your hands will fall to your sword! Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves with their ferocity which tradition still recalls; so may the name of Germany become known in China in such a way that no Chinaman will ever dare look a German in the eye even with a squint!".
Wilhelm's best friend at the time, Prince Philip von Euenburg wrote in a letter to a friend that the Kaiser wanted to raze Beijing to the ground, and kill every single man, woman and child living there in retaliation for the murder of Baron Clemens von Ketteler, the German minister to China. Only the fact that the other members of the Eight-Nation Alliance marching to Beijing would not consent to such a step saved Beijing from the total destruction that the Kaiser wanted.
However, when the Allied forces took Beijing in August 1900, the city was sacked and the various Allied forces went on a rampage of murder, looting, arson and rape. The British historian Diana Preston wrote: "There was a sense that the Chinese were less than human". The British admiral Sir Roger Keyes later recalled with disgust: "Every Chinaman...was treated as a Boxer by the Russian and French troops, and the slaughter of men, women, and children in retaliation was revolting". One group of British soldiers threatened to kill an elderly Chinese man unless he gave them his treasure; upon learning that he had no treasure to give, one soldier decided to bayonet him to death. He was stopped by a friend, who said: "No, not that way! I'm going to shoot him. I've always had a longing to see what sort of wound a dum-dum will make and by Christ, I am going to try one on this blasted Chink!". After shooting him, the solider exclaimed: "Christ, the dum-dum has blown the back out of his bloody nut!". One American women, Luella Miner reported: "The conduct of the Russian soldiers is atrocious, the French are not much better and the Japanese are looting and burning without mercy..Women and girls by the hundreds have committed suicide to escape a worse fate at the hands of Russian and Japanese brutes." Writing of the atrocities against the Chinese, one British journalist George Lynch wrote "there are things that I must not write, and that may not be printed in England, which would seem to show that this Western civilization of ours is merely a veneer over savagery". Following Wilhelm's orders to behave like "Huns", German troops during the winter of 1900-01 waged several especially harsh punitive expeditions around Beijing, which led to thousands of Chinese civilians being killed. One Australian wrote after the fall of Beijing: "The future of the Chinese is a fearful problem. Look at the frightful sights one see in the streets of Peking...See the filthy tattered rags they wrap around them. Smell them as they pass. Hear of their nameless immorality. Witness their shameless indecency and picture them among your own people-ugh, it makes you shudder!". Despite the fact that Boxer rebellion was crushed, many in the West start to express the fear that the Chinese would not only repeat the same violence of the Boxers, but would attempt to extend it by invading the West.
Germany & Russia
Even before his dream, Wilhelm was obsessed with the supposed danger represented by Asian peoples towards the "white race", writing in an letter to his cousin Emperor Nicholas II of Russia in April 1895: "It is clearly the great task of the future for Russia to cultivate the Asian continent and defend Europe from the inroads of the Great Yellow Race". The British historian James Palmer wrote that:
"The 1890s had spawned in the West the spectre of the "Yellow Peril", the rise to dominance of the Asian peoples. The evidence cited was Asian population growth, immigration to the West (America and Australia in particular), and increased Chinese settlement along the Russian border. These demographic and political fears were accompanied by a vague and ominous dread of the mysterious powers supposedly possessed by the initiates of Eastern religions. There is a striking German picture of the 1890s, depicting the dream that inspired Kaiser Wilhelm II to coin the term "Yellow Peril", that shows the union of these ideas. It depicts the nations of Europe, personified as heroic, but vulnerable female figures guarded by the Archangel Michael, gazing apprehensively towards a dark cloud of smoke in the East, in which rests an eerily calm Buddha, wreathed in flame...Combined with this was a sense of the slow sinking of the Abendland, the "Evening Land" of the West. This would be put most powerfully by thinkers such as Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West (1918) and the Prussian philosopher Moeller van den Bruck, a Russian-speaker obsessed with the coming rise of the East. Both called for Germany to join the "young nations" of Asia-through the adoption of such supposedly Asiatic practices as collectivism, "inner barbarism", and despotic leadership. The identification of Russia with Asia would eventually overwhelm such sympathies, instead leading to a more-or-less straightforward association of Germany with the values of "the West", against the "Asiatic barbarism" of Russia. This was most obvious during the Nazi era, when virtually every piece of anti-Russian propaganda talked of the "Asiatic millions" or "Mongolian hordes", which threatened to overrun Europe, but the identification of the Russians as Asian-and especially as Mongolian-continued well into the Cold War era."
The idea of the "Yellow Peril" became especially popular in Germany from the 1890s onward, and often colored German perceptions of Russia, which many Germans viewed as either a half-Asian or entirely Asian nation well into the 20th century. Folk memories of the destructive Mongol conquests under Genghis Khan often led to the term Mongol being used as a shorthand for the alleged Asian culture of extreme cruelty and supposed insatiable appetite for conquest, and as such all it was common to label all Asians as "Mongols". In particular, Genghis Khan was invoked as the personification of Asian inhumanity; the utterly ruthless leader of the merciless and extremely efficient killing machine that was said to be the Mongol horde. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt wrote that because of folk memories of the Mongol invasion of Europe, churches in Eastern Europe still used the litany: "From the fury of the Mongols, good Lord deliver us". Such was the identification of Asians with cruelty that German authors influenced by the racial theories so popular in Germany at the time often explained the icy, relentless, cruel fanaticism of Vladimir Lenin as due to his "Mongol blood"-a reference to the fact that Lenin's great-grandmother was a Kalmyk.
Sometimes the fact that Genghis had killed millions of people during his conquest of much of Eurasia was taken as a point of admiration. The insane, anti-Semitic fanatic General Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, aka the "God of War" conquered Mongolia in 1921 with the aim of using it as a base for the conquest of the Soviet Union, after which he would "exterminate" all of the Jews and Communists in Russia. Ungern-Sternberg intended to revive the Mongol Empire as he believed that West was corrupt and degenerate, and needed to be destroyed by a pan-Asian army under his leadership. Ungern-Sternberg's army included Russian, Mongol, Buryat, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese units, which he invaded the Soviet Union with later in 1921. The exceptionally sadistic Ungern-Sternberg regarded extreme violence as spiritually cleansing based his understanding of Buddhism, and believed the world needed a bloodbath to undergo a spiritual regeneration. On 22 August 1939, Adolf Hitler during a meeting with his senior generals praised Genghis for having "had millions of women and children killed by his own will and with a gay heart", and told them that Genghis was to an example to be followed for the war that they were about unleash in Poland. More recently, there have been attempts to rebrand Genghis as a Chinese hero. James Palmer wrote a local Chinese Communist Party boss in Inner Mongolia had told him in 2003:"'Genghis was born in Mongolia, he said, 'but he was Chinese. He loved China, like we all love China'." Palmer sarcastically wrote in response: "Genghis loved the Chinese so much that he killed about ten million of them, and seriously considered burning every city in northern China to the ground to create a vast grassland for his horses".
A particularity extreme response to the Yellow Peril paranoia was put forward by the Austrian Baron Christian von Ehrenfels who in series of papers published between 1902-10 argued that world was faced with a Social Darwinian struggle between different races, in which the Yellow Peril was winning. Ehrenfels argued the "white race" was being hindered by the institution of monogamy as it allowed for a genetically superior white men to father children by only one woman , and that the "yellow race" had a great advantage in polygamy as it allowed for genetically superior Asian men to father children by many women. To solve this perceived problem, Ehrenfels argued for radical social changes where the state would take control of sexuality. Ehrenfels called for a new social order where white men would be allowed to father children only if they proved themselves genetically fit social "winners", and for instituting polygamy for these men. Women by contrast would be allowed only one husband at time. All women would be consigned to live in communal barracks where they would help each other raise children, and would be assigned a husband by the state, who would visit only for the purposes of sex. The number of wives any man could have would be determined by how successful he was, hence ensuring that the most successful men would pass on their genes to the most children. Furthermore, in Ehrenfels's proposed new society, romantic love would be done away with, and relations between men and women would be only sexual. To end the "Yellow Peril" once and for all, Ehrenfels suggested that the "white nations" brand together to conquer all the Asian nations before it was too late, and create a new world racial order with a hereditary, racially determined "caste system". In Ehrenfels's vision, the whites would serve as the oligarchic "Aryan" military and intellectual castes and the Asians and blacks as the slave castes supporting the whites. After Japan's victory over Russia in 1905, Ehrenfels wrote "the absolute necessity of a radical sexual reform for the continued existence of the western races of man...has been raised from the level of discussion to the level of a scientifically proven fact".
The Yellow Peril painting, which Wilhelm was so proud of, was taken very seriously in Japan, and led to a marked decline in German-Japanese relations. During a visit to London, the Japanese statesmen Itō Hirobumi viewed the painting, and was heard to remark that this an extremely important sign of the Kaiser's malice towards Japan. In his turn, Wilhelm's anti-Asian phobia led him to strongly support Russia during the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-05 as he took the viewpoint that the war was just the beginning the great "race war" that he had been predicating since 1895. Until the Triple Intervention and the Yellow Peril painting, Japanese public opinion had greatly admired Germany, and the Kaiser's actions were received with complete shock by the Japanese.
For their part, many Russians shared the fear of the "Yellow Peril". Staring about 1900, Prince Esper Ukhtomsky started to promote the doctrine of Russia's "special mission" in the Far East, namely that Russia had the "duty" to bring the most of the Far East under its rule, through Ukhtomsky justified this under the grounds that Russia was an Asian nation that needed to unify Asia against the "threat" of the West. A major worry for Russians officials were the large number of Chinese living in Siberia, whom were felt to be a threat to Russian rule there. General Aleksey Kuropatkin, the Russian Minister of War and the leader of a clique at the Russian court committed to the idea of Russian expansion in Asia portrayed the rising power of Japan in the early 20th century and Japanese imperialist ambitions in Manchuria and Korea (both of which Kuropatkin coveted for Russia) as the first step of the "Yellow Peril" that Russia had to stop. Kuropatkin often justified his imperialist plans for East Asia as part of Russia's "special mission" to stop the "Yellow Peril". During the Russian-Japanese war, which was fought mostly in Manchuria, Russian troops routinely looted and burned Chinese villages, raped the women and killed all who resisted or who were just in the way. The Russian justification for all this was that Chinese civilians, being Asian, must had been helping their fellow Asians the Japanese inflict defeats on the Russians, and therefore deserved to be punished. Even after Russia's defeat at the hands of Japan, Kuropatkin remained committed to a forward policy in the Far East, albeit a less aggressive one than before 1904. Kuropatkin wrote in 1913 that "in the future, a major global war could flare up between the yellow race and the white...For this purpose, Russia must occupy north Manchuria and Mongolia...Only then will Mongolia be harmless". Kuropatkin's remarks about rendering Mongolia "harmless" partly reflected Russian folk memories of the Mongol conquest of Russia in the 13th century, and partly reflected his fear of the vast Chinese immigration into Inner Mongolia and Manchuria which was to soon to give both regions a Han majority, which he viewed as "the first blow of the yellow race against the white".
Through very popular, the Yellow Peril theory was not universally accepted. The French writer Anatole France wrote that the Yellow Peril ideology was the sort of thing one would expect from the racist, hate-filled mind of the Kaiser, and inverting the entire premise of the Yellow Peril, argued in an essay that given the tendency of European nations to gobble up other people's countries in Asia and Africa that it was the "White Peril" that was the real threat to the rest of the world. Another critic was the British writer Demetrius Charles Boulger who in 1904 published an essay entitled "The Bogey of the Yellow Peril" argued that the entire Yellow Peril theory was just racist hysteria.
In the early years of the 20th century, Wilhelm continued to warn anyone who would listen about the Yellow Peril. In a 1907 letter to Nicholas II, Wilhelm wrote that British newspapers "had for the first time used the term Yellow Peril from my picture, which is coming true!" (emphasis in the original). In the same letter, Wilhelm claimed that 10, 000 Japanese soldiers had arrived in Mexico with the aim of seizing the Panama Canal, and that the Japanese "were going in for the whole of Asia, carefully preparing their blows, and against the White Race in General! Remember my picture, it's coming true!". Also in 1907, Wilhelm sent a message to American President Roosevelt, predicating the coming "race war", and offered to sent German troops to protect the West Coast of the United States from the Japanese, who Wilhelm claimed would soon be invading the U.S; President Roosevelt politely refused the offer. Yellow Peril fears were often expressed in many Western nations, but Germany was unique in that from 1895 onwards, "defending" Europe from the alleged Yellow Peril was the official policy of the state, and supposedly everything the Reich did in foreign policy was driven by an idealistic desire to save the West. Wilhelm was sincere in his belief in the "Yellow Peril" and his passionate hatred of Asian peoples, who he routinely referred to variously as "yellow apes", "yellow ruffians", "yellow dogs" and "yellow devils", but there was an ulterior motive to his relentless promoting of the "Yellow Peril". The chief aim of German foreign policy under Wilhelm was winning Weltpolitik, where Germany would become the world's dominant power. To this achieve this, Germany had the Tirpitz Plan of building a powerful navy to challenge Britain; for the purposes of propaganda, it was convenient to claim the High Seas Fleet was meant to combat the Yellow Peril rather admitting its real purpose was to challenge Britain. The British were not fooled, and the Tirpitz plan led to the Anglo-German naval race of the early 20th century. Wilhelm believed the Yellow Peril fear would disrupt international relations, and would lead to a German-American alliance against Japan, which in turn would be converted into anti-British alliance. After the First Moroccan Crisis in 1905, where the United States sided with Britain and France against Germany, Wilhelm believed it was the unofficial alliance between the sea-powers of Britain and the U.S that was blocking Germany's claims to be a world power. As the Anglo-German naval race continued with ever greater speed in the first years of the 20th century, Berlin become convinced that the key to winning the race give the greater size of the British ship-building industry was an alliance with the United States. The rise of American-Japanese rivalry following Japan's victory over Russia in 1905 was seen as a possible opening for a German-American alliance. Britain and Japan had signed an alliance in 1902, so any anti-Japanese German-American alliance would almost certainly become an anti-British alliance as well. In the same 1907 letter to Roosevelt offering to sent German troops to protect the U.S from Japan, Wilhelm also advised Roosevelt to use the deployment as a chance to invade Canada, something that Wilhelm knew well would cause an Anglo-American war. Additionally, German diplomats tried to use the Yellow Peril fear to stir up American-Japanese antagonism via such tactics like bribing journalists to print articles saying that Japan and Mexico had signed a secret anti-American alliance, a tactic that backfired badly when the Americans discovered the source of the story. Moreover, the American government viewed industrialized Germany with its claims to Weltpolitik as a greater threat than semi-industrialized Japan with its claims to domination over China.
In October 1914, a group of 57 noted German professors signed an appeal to "civilized people of the world", which portrayed Germany as the victim of Allied aggression and contained the following passage:
"In the East the land is soaked with the blood of women and children butchered by the Russian hordes, and in the West our soldiers are being ripped apart by dumdum bullets. The nations with the least right to call themselves the defenders of European civilization are those which have allied themselves with Russians and Serbs and offer the world the degrading spectacle of inciting Mongols and Negroes to attack the white race".
The reference to "Mongols and Negroes" attacking the "white race" was to the various Asian peoples serving in the Imperial Russian Army and to Africans in the French Army. In 1915, when Japan presented the Twenty-One Demands to China, which would had virtually converted China into a Japanese protectorate (something that offended both Britain and the United States), Wilhelm did a volte-face, and sought to use the ensuring crisis to form a German-Japanese alliance, opening secret talks with the Japanese in Sweden. The Germans believed that the crisis caused by the 21 Demands would not only lead to Japan joining the Central Powers, but also neutralized any possibility of the U.S joining the war on the Allied side. The fact that German diplomats were holding secret talks on attempting to have Japan switch sides, the very nation that the same diplomats demonized for the last 20 years as the Yellow Peril embodied proved that the German use of the Yellow Peril fear had more to do with power-politics rather genuine conviction. The Zimmermann Telegram of 1917 was part of the same German effort to form an alliance with Japan against the Allies. The Canadian historian Holger Herwig called Wilhelm's use of the Yellow Peril as a diplomatic tool incredibly "childish" and "inept". Wilhelm changed his mind after his abdication in World War I, saying that he should not have bothered to warn Europe of the Yellow Peril, writing in 1923 that: "We shall be the leaders of the Orient against the Occident! I shall now have to alter my picture 'Peoples of Europe'. We belong on the other side! Once we have proved to the Germans that the French and English are not Whites at all, but Blacks...then they will set upon this rabble". He declared Germany as "face of the East against the West" instead of being in the west, and wished for the destruction of the western countries like Britain, France, and America, declaring the French to be "negroids", and stating his disgust at the racial equality Britain was allowing for blacks.
Starting in the late 19th century, Invasion novels depicting an Asian invasion of Australia's "empty north" become very popular. In the 1887 novel White or Yellow A Story of the Race War 1908 AD by the union leader and radical journalist William Lane, a "vast horde" of Chinese arrive in Australia and literally "over-ran everything". White or Yellow first appeared in a serialized form in Lane's newspaper The Boomerang before being published as a novel. Reflecting his left-wing, Australian nationalist politics, Lane depicted a future history in his novel where wealthy British capitalists motivated only by greed start the mass importation of Chinese labor into Australia with no thought for common people of Australia, leading to a bloody "race war", where killing the Chinese "horde" is presented as a justified response on the part of white Australians. Sexual fears about Asian men were often expressed in the invasion novels as the Chinese invaders seduce and/or rape white Australian women with the aid of opium. Sleeping with and/or being raped by the Chinese was portrayed as "a fate worse than death". The most fiercest opposition to Chinese immigration came from Australian union leaders, who depicted the Chinese as not only an economic threat to the ability of white Australians to make a decent living, but also as a moral threat to Christian civilization, especially with regards to sex. The feminist and union activist Rose Summerfield warned in a series of speeches in the 1890s of the unnatural "lust" of Chinese men, who according to her were always looking upon white Australian women with "lewd eyes". In 1901, the White Australia policy was adopted. Australia's official World War One historian Charles Bean defined the intentions of the policy as "a vehement effort to maintain a high Western standard of economy, society and culture (necessitating at that stage, however it might be camouflaged, the rigid exclusion of Oriental peoples)." One of the first Australian films, When Australia Calls, released in 1913 depicts an invasion by Mongolians who are defeated and destroyed by guerrilla resistance by ordinary Australians. At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of a Japanese proposal for a Racial Equality Proposal for the envisioned League of Nations, arguing that a clause would open the door for Asian immigration to Australia.
Around 63,000 Chinese labourers were brought to South Africa between 1904 and 1910 to work the country's gold mines. Many were repatriated after 1910, because of strong White opposition to their presence, similar to anti-Asian sentiments in the western United States during the same period. The mass importation of Chinese labourers to work on the gold mines contributed to the fall from power of the Conservative government in the United Kingdom, which was at the time responsible for governing South Africa after the Anglo-Boer War. However it did contribute to the economic recovery of South Africa after the Anglo-Boer War by once again making the mines of the Witwatersrand the most productive gold mines in the world.:103
On the 26 March 1904 a demonstration against Chinese immigration to South Africa was held in Hyde Park and was attended by 80,000 people.:107 The Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress then passed a resolution declaring that:
That this meeting consisting of all classes of citizens of London, emphatically protests against the action of the Government in granting permission to import into South Africa indentured Chinese labour under conditions of slavery, and calls upon them to protect this new colony from the greed of capitalists and the Empire from degradation.—
In the 18th century, the Chinese were largely favorably viewed in Britain, being seen as a civilized, sophisticated people worthy of admiration and respect, but over the course of 19th century, British views of the Chinese grew increasingly hostile, with the Chinese being portrayed as inherently depraved and corrupt. There were a few exceptions such as William Ewart Gladstone who in a speech in May 1890 criticized anti-Chinese immigration laws in Australia saying the Chinese were being penalized for their proven "virtues" like hard work instead of supposed "vices". The phrase Yellow Peril was first used by a British newspaper on 21 July 1900 when the Daily News spoke of the “the yellow peril in its most serious form” in connection with the Boxer Rebellion. At the same time, widespread Sinophobia in Britain did not translate into dislike of all Asians. During the Russian-Japanese War, France and Germany supported Russia while Britain supported Japan. British military observers to the war displayed a marked pro-Japanese bias against their traditional enemy Russia. One British observer, Captain Pakenham's "...reporting tended to depict Russia as his enemy, not just Japan's".
The British historian Julia Lovell wrote in 2014:
"In the early decades of the 20th century, Britain buzzed with Sinophobia. Respectable middle-class magazines, tabloids and comics alike spread stories of ruthless Chinese ambitions to destroy the west. The Chinese master-criminal (with his “crafty yellow face twisted by a thin-lipped grin”, dreaming of world domination) had become a staple of children’s publications. In 1911, “The Chinese in England: A Growing National Problem” (an article distributed around the Home Office) warned of “a vast and convulsive Armageddon to determine who is to be the master of the world, the white or yellow man”. After the First World War, cinemas, theatres, novels and newspapers broadcast visions of the “Yellow Peril” machinating to corrupt white society. In March 1929, the chargé d’affaires at London’s Chinese legation complained that no fewer than five plays showing in the West End depicted Chinese people in “a vicious and objectionable form”".
In the popular immigration, the Limehouse district of London, where most of the Chinese in Britain lived was the center of all sorts of depravity and vice like prostitution, opium smoking, gambling and things that were simply too dreadful to speak of. British newspapers routinely warned their readers of the dangers of miscegenation, using the example of British women marrying Chinese men as proof of the racial threat posed by China to Britain, or more commonly warning that Triad gangsters were kidnapping British women into White slavery. When World War One began, in 1914 the Defense of the Realm act was amended to include opium smoking as a grounds for deportation in order to provide a reason to start expelling people from London’s Chinatown.
United States of America
In the USA, xenophobic fears against the alleged "Yellow Peril" led to the implementation of the Page Act of 1875, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, expanded ten years later by the Geary Act. The Chinese Exclusion Act replaced the Burlingame Treaty ratified in 1868, which encouraged Chinese immigration, provided that "citizens of the United States in China of every religious persuasion and Chinese subjects in the United States shall enjoy entire liberty of conscience and shall be exempt from all disability or persecution on account of their religious faith or worship in either country" and granted certain privileges to citizens of either country residing in the other, withholding, however, the right of naturalization.
The Los Angeles pogrom of 1871 marked the beginning of widespread violence against the Chinese in the American West. It is estimated that in the 1870s-1880s that about 200 Chinese were lynched in the American West. In 1880, a pogrom in Denver saw the looting and destruction of the local Chinatown, which was burned down with one Chinese man lynched. So common were the practice of lynching Chinese in the West that phrase "Having a Chinaman's chance" arose to mean no chance at all. On 2 September 1885 there occurred the Rock Springs massacre in Wyoming, yet another anti-Chinese pogrom committed by white miners who saw the Chinese miners as rivals which led to 28 deaths (all Chinese), 15 wounded, the expulsion of rest of the Chinese community, and property damage worth $150,000. The Rock Springs pogrom led to a wave of anti-Chinese violence in the West in the fall of 1885-winter 1886. On 11 September 1885, there was an anti-Chinese pogrom in Coal Creek. Also on 11 September there was an anti-Chinese attack in Squak Valley that left 3 Chinese workers dead. On 24 October 1885, the Chinatown of Seattle was party burned down and 3 November 1885 the Tacoma pogrom saw the entire Chinese community expelled. On 6–9 February 1886, there occurred the Seattle pogrom that led to 200 Chinese being expelled due to an attack organized by the local Knights of Labor chapter. In 1887, between 10-34 Chinese were killed at the Chinese Massacre Cove in Oregon.
The Immigration Act of 1917 then created an "Asian Barred Zone" under nativist influence. The Cable Act of 1922 guaranteed independent female citizenship only to women who were married to "alien[s] eligible to naturalization". At the time of the law's passage, Asian aliens were not considered to be racially eligible for U.S. citizenship. As such, the Cable Act only partially reversed previous policies, granting independent female citizenship only to women who married non-Asians. The Cable Act effectively revoked the U.S. citizenship of any woman who married an Asian alien. The National Origins Quota of 1924 also included a reference aimed against Japanese citizens, who were ineligible for naturalization and could not either be accepted on U.S. territory. In 1922, a Japanese citizen attempted to demonstrate that the Japanese were members of the "white race", and, as such, eligible for naturalization. This was denied by the Supreme Court in Takao Ozawa v. United States, who judged that Japanese were not members of the "Caucasian race".
The 1921 Emergency Quota Act, and then the Immigration Act of 1924, restricted immigration according to national origins. While the Emergency Quota Act used the census of 1910, xenophobic fears in the WASP community lead to the adoption of the 1890 census, more favorable to White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) population, for the uses of the Immigration Act of 1924, which responded to rising immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as Asia. One of the goal of this National Origins Formula, established in 1929, was explicitly to keep the status quo distribution of ethnicity, by allocating quotas in proportion to the actual population. The idea was that immigration would not be allowed to change the "national character". Total annual immigration was capped at 150,000. Asians were excluded but residents of nations in the Americas were not restricted, thus making official the racial discrimination in immigration laws. This system was repealed with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
It was extremely common in the early 20th century for proponents of the Yellow Peril theory to portray the United States as a clean, healthy "body politic" which was threatened by Asian immigrants who were a foreign "disease" within the U.S. Champions of the Yellow Peril concept often used the language of body penetration and of diseases to express their fears of Asian-Americans. Yellow Peril was also the title of a popular book by an influential U.S. religious figure, G. G. Rupert, who published The Yellow Peril; or, Orient vs. Occident in 1911. Based on the phrase "the kings from the East" in the Christian scriptural verse Revelation 16:12, Rupert, who believed in the doctrine of British Israelism, claimed that China, India, Japan, and Korea were attacking England and the United States, but that Jesus Christ would stop them. Rupert believed that all the "colored races" would eventually unite under the leadership of Russia, producing a final apocalyptic confrontation. In 1920, the Harvard historian Lothrop Stoddard published the book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, which warned that the non-white peoples would band together under the leadership of either China and/or Japan to destroy the West, and that this process had already started with the Japanese victory over Russia in 1905. Typical of the yellow peril rhetoric was Stoddard's use of the water image of a rising tide flooding everything. The phrase "yellow peril" was common in the U.S. newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst. In the early 1930s the Hearst newspapers waged a sustained campaign of vilification against an American Communist activist Elaine Black, who was denounced as the "Tiger Woman" for her open sexual relationship with a fellow Communist activist Karl Yoneda. Black and Yoneda would had married in 1931, but the California law at the time outlawed inter-racial marriage, so it was until 1935 when they moved to Seattle did Black and Yoneda finally marry. The campaign against Black had less to do with anything she was doing in particular and more to do with Hearst's calculation that the news that a white woman was having a sexual relationship with an Asian man would stir up outrage in his readers and increase the sales of his papers.
During the 1930s, there had appeared within certain circles in the United States an opposition to the popular Yellow Peril stereotypes, which was exemplified by popularity of the Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto novels and films. There was also the China Lobby of businessmen, intellectuals and Protestant missionaries who idolized Chiang Kai-shek as China's Christian savior (Chiang had converted to Methodism in 1927), and who pressured the neutral United States to aid China after the Japanese invasion began in 1937. Media coverage of the Sino-Japanese war tended to favor China. After Japan attacked the U.S in 1941 and China formally become an American ally, some within the American media began to criticize the various discriminatory laws against the Chinese and Chinese-Americans. Moreover, it was widely believed that once Japan was defeated that China would emerge as a major economic power under the leadership of Chiang (who made clear his disapproval of the anti-Chinese laws), and that American businesses would be shut out of the fabled "China market" that was anticipated after the war if the anti-Chinese laws continued to be on the books.
According to the American science fiction writer William F. Wu, "pulp magazines in the 1930s had a lot of yellow peril characters loosely based on Fu Manchu" and that although "most were of Chinese descent", the geopolitics at the time led a "growing number of people to see Japan as a threat" as well. In his 1982 book The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American fiction, 1850-1940, Wu theorizes that the fear of Asians dates back to Mongol invasion in the Middle Ages during the Mongol Empire. "The Europeans believed that Mongols were invading en masse, but actually, they were just on horseback and riding really fast," he writes. Most Europeans had never seen an Asian before, and the harsh contrast in language and physical appearance probably caused more skepticism than transcontinental immigrants did. "I think the way they looked had a lot to do with the paranoia," Wu says.
The "yellow peril" was a significant part of the policy platform promoted by Richard Seddon, a populist New Zealand prime minister, in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. He compared Chinese people to monkeys. In his first political speech in 1879 he had declared New Zealand did not wish her shores to be "deluged with Asiatic Tartars. I would sooner address white men than these Chinese. You can't talk to them, you can't reason with them. All you can get from them is 'No savvy'." In 1905, Lionel Terry, a fanatical white supremacist murdered an elderly Chinese immigrant Joe Kum Yung, in Wellington to protest Asian immigration to New Zealand. Measures designed to curb Chinese immigration included a substantial poll tax, introduced in 1881 and lowered in 1937 following Imperial Japan's invasion and occupation of China. The poll tax was abolished in 1944 and for which the New Zealand government has since issued a formal apology.
In Canada, widespread racism led to the introduction of a $50 head tax designed to discourage Asian and especially Chinese immigration. In 1895, Asian-Canadians were forbidden to vote or hold office and in 1903 the poll tax was raised to $500 dollars following pressure from the Asiatic Exclusion League, who warned that Canada was faced with the "yellow peril". In September 1907, the anti-Asian Vancouver riot took place when the Asiatic Exclusion League went on a rampage, destroying the homes and businesses of Chinese, Japanese and Korean immigrants in Vancouver while endlessly shouting "White Canada Forever!". In 1923, the Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King banned all Asian immigration to Canada. Th feminist Emily Murphy in articles in Maclean's regularly railed against the Chinese as "men of fishy blood" who were selling opium to corrupt the white race. In 1942, Mackenzie King had interned the Japanese-Canadians following widespread public hysteria that they were a possible "fifth column" for a Japanese invasion of Canada's West coast. Almost alone, the Conservative backbencher and future Prime Minister John Diefenbaker protested in the House of Commons that it was wrong to intern people solely because of their race and ethnicity with no reference for what they had actually done. After about 500 Chinese-Canadians enlisted in the Canadian military during World War II, despite the 1895 law forbidding Asian-Canadians from voting, a public outcry led to the Chinese-Canadians given the right to vote in 1947 (Japanese-Canadians had to wait until 1948).
Starting in the 1890s, the péril jaune (yellow peril) was often invoked in France, with unfavorable comparisons between drawn between low French birth rates and high Asian birth rates. According, the fear was raised that eventually the Asians would "flood" France, and that the only way to prevent the Asian "flooding" of France was to raise the French birth rate to have enough manpower to fight off the coming Asian "flood". During the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-05, the French media was overwhelming on the side of France's ally Russia. The Russians were portrayed in the French press as heroically fighting for the entire "white race" against the péril jaune of the Japanese "barbarians". In May 1904, the French journalist René Pinon wrote:
"The "yellow peril" has entered already into the imagination of the people, just as represented in the famous drawing of the Emperor Wilhelm II: in a settling of conflagration and carnage, Japanese and Chinese hordes spread out over all Europe, crushing under their feet the ruins of our capital cities and destroying our civilizations, grown anemic due to the enjoyment of luxuries and corrupted by the vanity of spirit. Hence, little by little there emerges the idea that even if a day must come (and that day does not seem near) the European peoples will cease to be their own enemies and even economic rivals, there will be a struggle ahead to face and there will rise a new peril, the yellow man. The civilized world has always organized itself before and against a common adversary: for the Roman world, it was the barbarian; for the Christian world, it was Islam; for the world of tomorrow, it may well be the yellow man. And so we have the reappearance of this necessary concept, without which peoples do not know themselves, just as the "Me" only takes conscience of itself in opposition to the "non-Me": the enemy".
Despite their professed claims that French civilization was an universal civilizing force, right from the beginning in 1859 the French ruled their colony of Vietnam with an iron hand with the Vietnamese being seen as something less human, and therefore not deserving of human rights. During the Indochina war of 1945-54, the French often justified the war as part of the struggle to defend the West against the péril jaune of the Vietnamese Communists, who were always portrayed as mere puppets of the Chinese Communists in their drive to conquer the world. Even before the war, many of the French had seen the Vietnamese as not quite human, and during la sale guerre ("the dirty war") against the Viet Minh, French forces routinely committed war crimes such as extrajudicial executions, torture, needless destruction of property and mistreatment of POWs.
According to the French writer Gisèle Luce Bousquet, the concept of the péril jaune, which had traditionally colored French attitudes towards Asians, especially the Vietnamese is still in effect today, albeit in more subtle ways than in the past. Franco-Vietnamese are resented for being perceived academic over-achievers who are taking away good-paying jobs from the "native French", and for allegedly "taking over" entire fields such as computer science. In January 2015, a French magazine Fluide Glacial published on its cover a cartoon of a sad Frenchman pulling a rickshaw carrying a Chinese man dressed in the style of 19th century French colonial officials with a barely dressed French blonde in tow in a Chinese-occupied Paris under the title "Yellow Peril Is it already too late?". Yan Lindingre, the editor of Fluide Glacial stated in response to criticism that the cover was satirical, and was intended to mock the Yellow Peril fears held by many of the French that Chinese economic growth will destroy the French way of life, and that France will in the future be subjected to China. In a newspaper co-op, Lindingre responded to attacks by the Chinese press by writing: “I have just ordered an extra billion copies printed and will send them to you via a chartered flight. This will help us balance our trade deficit and give you a good laugh.”
During the Mexican Revolution, the Chinese communities in Mexico who usually working there as miners who were subjected to abuse from all various factions fighting for the control of Mexico in the revolution. The most notable act of anti-Chinese violence was the Torreón massacre of May 11–15, 1911 when over 300 Chinese were shot down in cold blood by rebel forces commanded by General Francisco "Pancho" Villa. The Torreón massacre was the most extreme act of anti-Asian violence in Mexico, but not the only one. In 1913, when Tamosopo was taken by the Constitutional Army, all of the buildings owned by Chinese immigrants were sacked and burned down. The British historian Alan Knight noted that all sides tended to single out the Chinese for "especially harsh treatment". During and after the revolution, Chinese Mexicans were widely disliked because of their supposed tendency to steal jobs from Mexicans. In Mexican anti-Chinese propaganda, the Chinese were painted as without hygiene, and responsible for vices such as opium smoking and gambling. They were blamed for spreading diseases, degenerating La Raza (the Mexican "race"), corrupting morals, inciting civil unrest and generally undermining Mexico’s social and political makeup. Their lack of assimilation was also attacked. Another accusation was that Chinese men (and almost all Chinese immigrants in Mexico were men) had been stealing employment and Mexican women from Mexican men who had gone off to fight in the Revolution or in World War I. In the 1930s, nearly 70% of the country Chinese and Chinese-Mexican population was deported or otherwise expelled out of the country in a programme of bureaucratic ethnic cleansing.
The Eastern Front
After Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, German propaganda almost always referred to the Red Army as the "Asiatic horde", with the Red Army being portrayed as a vast horde of barely human Asian and Slavic savages capable of only the most mindless destruction, who were intent on destroying European civilization. Barbarossa was always portrayed in German propaganda as a "preventive war" allegedly forced on Germany by a Soviet invasion said to be planned for July 1941, and which thus justified German war crimes in the Soviet Union as something forced on Germany. The German historian Wolfram Wette wrote that it was the great achievement of anti-Soviet Nazi propaganda to mix anti-Slavic, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic images into a potent cocktail of hate, which portrayed the "Asiatic" Soviet Union supposedly ruled by the Jews as the embodiment of everything evil in the world. German propaganda always portrayed the Red Army after the start of Barbarossa as a vast horde of Slavic and Asian Untermensch ("sub-humans") commanded by evil Jewish commissars, who were all set to attack Germany and destroy the West.
A particular emphasis in German propaganda was on the "barbaric Asiatic fighting methods" of the Red Army to justify the "war of extermination" against the Soviet untermensch. Typical of such viewpoint was the following passage from the pamphlet "Information for the troops", which all 3 million German soldiers committed to Barbarossa had to read in June 1941:
"Anyone who has ever looked into the face of a Red commissar knows what the Bolsheviks are. There is no need here for theoretical reflections. It would be an insult to animals if one were to call the features of these, largely Jewish, tormentors of people beasts. They are the embodiment of the infernal, of the personified insane hatred of everything that is noble in humanity. In the shape of these commissars we witness the revolt of the subhuman against noble blood. The masses whom they are driving to their deaths with every means of icy terror and lunatic incitement would have brought about an end of all meaningful life, had the incursion not been prevented at the last moment" [the last statement is a reference to the "preventive war" that Barbarossa was alleged to be].
Such talk were not just propaganda for the masses, but rather that was genuinely believed by German elites. During the planning for Barbarossa, the German General Staff took it for granted that the Soviet Union was a primitive, backward "Asiatic" power that it would take Germany only two to three months to defeat, which accordingly meant that Germany could wage a "war of annihilation" against the Soviet Union, secure in the knowledge that they had no need to fear Soviet revenge. Typical of the German anti-Soviet propaganda was the following message to his troops issued by General Erich Hoepner just before Barbarossa:
"The war against Russia is an important chapter in the German nation's struggle for existence. It is the old battle of the Germanic against the Slavic people, of the defense of European culture against Muscovite-Asiatic inundation and of the repulse of Jewish Bolshevism. The objective of this battle must be the demolition of present-day Russia and must therefore be conducted with unprecedented severity. Every military action must be guided in planning and execution by an iron resolution to exterminate the enemy remorselessy and totally. In particular no adherents of the contemporary Russian Bolshevik system are to be spared".
The British historian Richard J. Evans wrote that Wehrmacht officers regarded the Russians as "sub-human", were from the time of the invasion of Poland in 1939 telling their troops the war was caused by "Jewish vermin", and explained to the troops that the war against the Soviet Union was a war to wipe out what were variously called "Jewish Bolshevik sub-humans", the "Asiatic-Bolshevik flood", the "Mongol hordes", the "Asiatic flood" and the "red beast", language clearly intended to produce war crimes by reducing the enemy to something less than human. During the first six months of Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht and the SS had a policy of shooting all of the "Asiatics" serving in the Red Army who were taken prisoner by German forces. Thousands of Soviet POWs were thus executed for no other reason then for being Asian. After December 1941, the Germans ceased executing Soviet Asian POWs as their labor was now needed once it was clear that the war against the Soviet Union was going to be a long war. Some of the Asian Red Army POWs either volunteered or were conscripted into the Ostlegionen (Eastern Legions) of the Wehrmacht. The Soviet Asians serving in the Ostlegionen were generally known as "Mongols", regardless if they were actually Mongol or not. The British travel writer Eric Newby described his guards at a German POW camp in Italy thus:
"They were Mongols, apostates from the Russian Army, dressed in German uniform, hideously cruel descendants of Genghis Khan's wild horsemen who, in Italy, had already established a similar reputation to that enjoyed by the Goums, the Moroccans in the Free French Army."
It is estimated that in 1945 that Red Army soldiers raped two million German women and girls during their advance into Germany. Russian sources acknowledge the mass rapes, but reflecting the prevalence of Yellow Peril stereotypes in Russia insist that most of the rapes were committed by Soviet Asian peoples serving in the second-line units, not by soldiers in the first-line units, who were usually ethnic Russians. The mass rapes committed by the Red Army were used in Germany for decades afterwards to "prove" that Nazi claim that the Red Army were the "Asiatic hordes" laying waste to everything was essentially correct, and Germany's war in the East was not a war of conquest, extermination and enslavement, but rather a heroic battle to "defend" European civilization from the "Asiatic hordes" that sadly Hitler lost.
The Pacific War
During the war of aggression that Japan launched against China in 1937, the Japanese under their influence of the samurai code of bushido ("the way of the warrior") had committed a vast number of atrocities such as murder, rape, and torture, most infamously during the Rape of Nanking in 1937. The Japanese were responsible for the deaths of somewhere between 8 to 9 million Chinese between 1937-45 from all causes such deaths in combat, bombing of Chinese cities, slaves worked to death, massacres, repression and biological warfare. Later on, the Japanese were to commit similar atrocities everywhere they went in Asia, often in a way that seemed designed to inflame opinion against them. Ironically, given that the Japanese were waging the war under the banner of Pan-Asianism to unite the peoples of Asia into the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" under the leadership of Japan, the principle victims of the Japanese were other Asian peoples such as the Chinese and the Koreans, whom the Japanese treated with extreme brutality. For all their pan-Asian rhetoric, the Japanese saw themselves as racially superior to all other peoples including other Asian peoples, and tended to badly mistreat their supposed Asian brothers and sisters in Korea, China, and South-east Asia. The Japanese conscripted over a million Asians to use as slave labor together with 20, 000 American and British Commonwealth POWs, and all whose treatment was based upon an old Japanese proverb for the proper treatment of slaves: ikasazu korasazu ("do not let them live, do not let them die"). In addition, the Japanese conscripted 200, 000 young girls, mostly from Korea to serve as ianfu ("comfort women") as sexual slavery was called, for the Imperial Army and Navy. As premarital sex was strictly forbidden in traditional Korean culture, those Korean women forced to work as "comfort women" were shunned as pariahs after the war. At least some Asians embraced the Japanese slogan of a war for "Asia for Asians". Koreans serving in the Japanese Army were notorious for their cruelty to American and British POWs. Japanese war crimes received much publicity in the West (especially war crimes against Westerners, which received a disproportionate amount of coverage), and tended for many people in the West to confirm every single Yellow Peril stereotype that they held. During the war, Japanese atrocities against Western POWs not only received far greater media coverage in the English-speaking world than did Japanese atrocities against other Asians, but also greater coverage than did the Holocaust, which during the war was only back-page news and only really received extensive media attention after Germany's defeat.
The most profound cause of anti-Japanese sentiment outside of Asia had its beginning in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese attack propelled the United States into World War II. The Americans were unified by the attack to fight against the Empire of Japan and its allies, Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. Most of the Japanese and the Americans saw the war as a "race war" with no mercy to be given to the other side. Through the Japanese government despised other Asian peoples and had completely imperialist plans for East Asia, the war was presented by Tokyo as part of a pan-Asian crusade for freedom from the "white powers". Tokyo always portrayed the war as a "holy war" in which the "spiritually pure" Japanese would destroy the corrupt, decadent, materialist, soulless "Anglo-Saxon" capitalist civilization for the benefit of humanity. The Japanese media presented the war in a racist manner with the Americans and the British being shown in cartoons as sub-human "white devils" with fangs, claws and tails whom it was the duty of the "Yamato race" to conquer. The Anglo-American "white devils", also called "white demons" were always portrayed by the Japanese media as literally demonical creatures of pure evil. The Japanese media made much of the Yellow Peril stereotypes and of all the anti-Asian laws in the West to claim that all whites had a deep, violent hatred of all Asians. Japanese newspapers claimed if an American wanted to join the Marine Corps, he had to first murder his parents and rape an Asian woman in order to qualify. Much of the American media tended to reciprocate with the Hearst papers calling Japan a "racial menace", and one Hearst paper columnist calling the war against Japan "a holy war, a racial war of greater significance than any the world has heretofore seen". From the 1890s onwards, the Hearst papers had warned of the "Yellow Peril", and that Japan was planning on invading the U.S, so the outbreak of war in 1941 had merely amplified what the Hearst press had been saying about Japan for almost 50 years. In a 1942 editorial entitled "Peril Exposed!", one of the Hearst papers called the war against Germany a "family fight" that did not threaten Western civilization (which seem to imply that the West would continue to exist more or less in its current form even if Germany won) while the war against Japan was a civilizational, existential struggle which pitted the West against the Orient. Another Hearst paper grandly declared in editorial that:"The war in the Pacific is the World War, the War of Oriental races against the Occidental races for the Domination of the World". The Pan-Asian propaganda of the Japanese was used by certain elements within the American media like the Hearst papers to confirm their belief that the war between the U.S and Japan was not only between the two states, but also the war of the United States against the Yellow Peril of all of Asia.
Much of the Yellow Peril stereotyping that had been applied against the Chinese was now applied to the Japanese, and it was extremely common for the Japanese to be portrayed as a savage ape-like or insect-like creatures capable only of the most mindless violence. The U.S. Marine magazine Leatherneck ran a cartoon strip in 1944 comparing the Japanese to insects, and suggested that the world be a much better place if the vile species "Louseous Japanicas" be exterminated. The American Admiral William "Bull" Halsey when not publicly calling the Japanese "yellow bastards" referred to them as the "yellow monkeys". Other popular comparisons were to liken the Japanese to snakes and rats. In a 1944 report from the British Embassy in Washington on the American media's coverage of the war against Japan , Sir Isaiah Berlin wrote in general the Japanese were portrayed as "nameless mass of vermin". That the Japanese were prepared to live and fight hard under conditions that were almost unimaginable for Americans was often used to suggest that the Yellow Peril claims that Asians had some sort of mysterious occult powers was correct. The American Sinophile writer Pearl S. Buck expressed fears that the war against Japan was being presented in such a racist way that it would within a generation cause a new race war between the Occident and Orient. Buck together with the Chinese writer Lin Yutang (both of whom were otherwise strong supporters of the war against Japan) often complained in lectures during the war that the racist, dehumanizing Yellow Peril language used against the Japanese was no different from the dehumanizing, racist White Devil rhetoric used by Tokyo, and that the American media could do much better. Both Lin and Buck argued that by using Yellow Peril rhetoric to demonize the Japanese was playing into the hands of Japanese propaganda, which always depicted the American "white devils" as hate-filled, irredeemable anti-Asian racists and what was needed was a new message that would prove Japanese propaganda wrong.
The unannounced attack at Pearl Harbor prior to a declaration of war was presented to the American populace as an act of treachery and cowardice. Following the attack many non-governmental "Jap hunting licenses" were circulated around the country. LIFE magazine published an article on how to tell a Japanese from a Chinese person by the shape of the nose and the stature of the body. Japanese conduct during the war did little to quell anti-Japanese sentiment. Fanning the flames of outrage were the treatment of American and other prisoners of war. Military-related outrages included the murder of POWs, the use of POWs as slave labor for Japanese industries, the Bataan Death March, the Kamikaze attacks on Allied ships, and atrocities committed on Wake Island and elsewhere. Writing of the 1942 Bataan Death March, the American historians Williamson Murray and Alan Millet wrote: "Before the end of the Bataan Death March weeks later, 600 Americans had died of disease and exhaustion or had been murdered by their guards; the numbers of Filipino deaths had reached 6, 000-7,000. Filipino nationalists later claimed that American rations had saved the whites at the expense of the Asians. What is more clear is that the Japanese again showed that they were not just anti-European racists, but that they enjoyed the murder and oppression of other Asians, too".
U. S. historian James J. Weingartner attributes the very low number of Japanese in U.S. POW compounds to two key factors: a Japanese reluctance to surrender and a widespread American "conviction that the Japanese were 'animals' or 'subhuman' and unworthy of the normal treatment accorded to POWs." The latter reasoning is supported by Niall Ferguson, who says that "Allied troops often saw the Japanese in the same way that Germans regarded Russians [sic] — as Untermenschen." Weingartner believes this explains the fact that a mere 604 Japanese captives were alive in Allied POW camps by October 1944. Ulrich Straus, a U.S. Japanologist, believes that front line troops intensely hated Japanese military personnel and were "not easily persuaded" to take or protect prisoners, as they believed that Allied personnel who surrendered, got "no mercy" from the Japanese. Allied soldiers believed that Japanese soldiers were inclined to feign surrender, in order to make surprise attacks. Therefore, according to Straus, "senior officers opposed the taking of prisoners, on the grounds that it needlessly exposed American troops to risks ..." There was no official American policy on killing Japanese POWs, but the practice was widely tolerated with some units such as the 41st Army Division becoming very widely known for killing all Japanese. In 1943, an American submarine skipper who torpedoed a Japanese transport, and then surfaced to machine gun all the survivors felt fit to report what had done to his superiors, who justified his confidence by publicly rewarding him. In part because of anger about Japanese atrocities against POWs and civilians, and in part because of racism, the Japanese were seen as less than human by the American and Australian troops, which thus used to justify such practices such as mutilating Japanese corpses and collecting the skulls of the Japanese dead. In Europe, the American policy was that of "precision bombing" where only German military targets and war industries would be bombed (through in practice the difference between American "precision bombing" and British "area bombing" was often blurred). In contrast, starting in late 1944 American bombing raids against Japan had the stated goal of firebombing Japanese cities into the ground, and of incinerating as many Japanese civilians as possible. Between November 1944-August 1945, American firebombing raids are estimated to have killed about 400, 000 Japanese civilians and to have razed 68 Japanese cities into the ground.
An estimated 112,000 to 120,000 Japanese migrants and Japanese Americans from the West Coast were interned regardless of their attitude to the US or Japan. They were held for the duration of the war in the inner US, and had all of their assets confiscated, ruining them financially. The large Japanese population of Hawaii was not massively relocated in spite of their proximity to vital military areas. A 1944 opinion poll found that 13% of the U.S. public were in favor of the extermination of all Japanese. Daniel Goldhagen wrote in his book "So it is no surprise that Americans perpetrated and supported mass slaughters - Tokyo's firebombing and then nuclear incinerations - in the name of saving American lives, and of giving the Japanese what they richly deserved."
The Korean War
During the Korean War, the vast majority of the various contingents serving under the United Nations flag loathed Korea and Koreans, who were viewed as a loathsome people living in a loathsome country. In general, the UN forces tended to look down upon the Koreans as "gooks". One U.S. Marine named Selwyn Handler later recalled: "Unless you were an anthropology student, Koreans were just a bunch of gooks. Who cared about the feelings of people like that? We were very smug Americans at that time". The extreme poverty of South Korea at the time, the rampant corruption of the South Korean regime of Syngman Rhee and that the South Korean government treated its own people with a callous brutality tended to confirm the prejudices and contempt of the Western soldiers against the Koreans as simply a dreadful Asian people mired in cruelty, corruption and debauchery. Almost all of the South Korean police and army officers had began careers under the Japanese occupation, and they tended to treat their fellow Koreans with a sadistic brutality that they learned while in Japanese service that often shocked Westerners. The North Korean dictatorship of Kim Il-sung was every bit as ruthless and cruel as the Rhee regime, and displayed a savagery towards Korean civilians such as the Taejon massacre in 1950 where 5, 000 South Korean civilians were killed by the North Korean forces that led many South Koreans to see Rhee, for all his many flaws as the lesser evil. South Korea, a poor country even before the war saw its economy collapsed under the strain of war. Much of South Korea was destroyed by the fighting while millions took to the road as refugees looking desperately for some safe haven. Under the impact of the Korean War, South Korean society had almost collapsed, and for many South Koreans it was every man or woman for himself or herself, something that helped to feed the contempt of the UN soldiers against the Koreans. A notable exception were the British troops, who tended to despise adult Koreans as "gooks", but were well known for their kindness towards Korean children.
The North Koreans were notorious for their treatment of United Nations POWs, especially Americans whom they tend to shoot out of hand when captured if they felt to know nothing useful, and to torture if they felt to have useful intelligence. The Chinese treated UN POWs considerably better than then did their North Korean allies, but even then, the Chinese subjected their POWs to a regime of starvation, neglect, forced labor and poor living conditions, especially during the winter of 1950-51. The most infamous aspect of the Chinese treatment of Western POWs was the "brainwashing", the attempt to break down the personalities of the POWs to convert them to Communism. It should be noted though the Chinese treatment of Western POWs was harsh, it was nowhere near as extreme or brutal as the Japanese treatment of Western POWs in World War II. The Chinese wished to "remodel" their prisoners to Communism, regardless if they wanted the "remodeling" or not, but the desire to "brainwash" the prisoners meant the Chinese wanted to keep them alive. The Japanese by contrast under their code of bushido regarded soldiers who surrendered as having lost their honor, and under bushido men without honor deserved a slow death by deliberate mistreatment. The soldiers from the various national contingents fighting under the UN flag tended to respect their Chinese opponents as skillful and brave whereas the North Koreans were loathed and feared because of their habit of executing POWs. The Chinese treatment of Western POWs, especially the "brainwashing" tactics did immense damage to China's reputation in the West in the 1950s, and for decades afterward, the Chinese "brainwashing" was much feared throughout the West. Films like The Rack, Time Limit, and The Manchurian Candidate all reflected the widespread horror at the much feared Chinese "brainwashing" techniques. Partly because of racism and partly because of anger against North Korean killings of American POWs, many American soldiers executed North Korean POWs and Korean civilians. There was a marked tendency to see the Koreans, both North and South in the words of the British historian Max Hastings as "near-animals". One American soldier Mario Scaselleta recalled: "I couldn't get over how cruel we were to the prisoners we captured". Another U.S soldier Warren Avery remembered: "We took no prisoners...We killed an awful lot of civilians over there." Hastings wrote though many UN soldiers were brutal, that there was an huge difference between the "random acts of individual UN troops and the systematic brutality of the North Koreans". During the war, the U.S Air Force waged a carpet bombing campaign very similar to the one against Japan in World War II that destroyed North Korea. Every city and town in North Korea was leveled while the bombing destroyed irrigation dams leading to a famine in the countryside. Between 1950-53, it estimated that American bombing was responsible for the deaths of between 12-15% of the North Korean civilian population.
When the Chinese entered the war in November 1950, and drove the United Nations forces (of which the largest contingent was American) back down the Korean peninsula during the winter of 1950-51, American commanders routinely explain away their defeats by claiming that were faced with vast "hordes" of drug-crazed Chinese who overwhelming them via sheer numbers in supposed enormous "human wave" assaults. The British military historian Colonel Michael Hickey noted: "In fact, the Chinese seldom attacked at more than regimental strength. They placed far more stress on fieldcraft, deception and surprise than on weight on numbers". One sarcastic American reporter, noting the tendency of American officers to exaggerate Chinese numbers, asked at a press conference: "How many hordes are there in a platoon?". That the Chinese victories were not caused by numerical superiority can be seen in that once the capable General Matthew Ridgway took command of the 8th Army and sacked the incompetent officers responsible for the defeats, the long run of American defeats ended and the Chinese advance down Korea was halted decisively in the middle of the peninsula. Ridgway was able to launch an counteroffensive that retook Seoul in March 1951, and in April 1951 stopped the Chinese 5th Phrase offensive that was intended by Mao Zedong to win the war in Korea. Ridgway was able to do all this despite the fact that force ratio between the Chinese and American forces in Korea had not changed from where it stood when the Chinese entered the war in November 1950.
Typical of the American media's coverage was the headline in one newspaper: "Red Hordes Swarm South Korea!". The use of the phrase "swarm" to describe the Chinese offensive suggested that the Chinese were akin to insects. One American officer Colonel Robert Rigg published a book in 1952 entitled Red China's Fighting Hordes which described the People's Liberation Army as "countless masses of uniformed robots", and that "There is a sadism and brutality inherent in many Asiatics, that is not commonly found within men of the better educated areas of the world".
Yellow Peril stereotypes were often invoked during the Historikerstreit (Historians' Dispute) in West Germany of 1986-89. The German historian Ernst Nolte sparked much controversy with his thesis that the Holocaust was something that Hitler had forced to do because of fear of the Soviet Union. Nolte wrote about the horrors said to been perpetuated by the "Chinese Cheka" during the Russian Civil War, and made much about the supposed use of Chinese serving in the Cheka of the rat cage torture, which was alleged to be an ancient Chinese torture. Nolte used the "rat cage torture" to establish the "Asiatic barbarism" of the Bolsheviks. The crux of Nolte's thesis was presented when he wrote:
"It is a notable shortcoming of the literature about National Socialism that it does not know or does not want to admit to what degree all the deeds—with the sole exception of the technical process of gassing—that the National Socialists later committed had already been described in a voluminous literature of the early 1920s: mass deportations and shootings, torture, death camps, extermination of entire groups using strictly objective selection criteria, and public demands for the annihilation of millions of guiltless people who were thought to be "enemies".
It is probable that many of these reports were exaggerated. It is certain that the “White Terror” also committed terrible deeds, even though its program contained no analogy to the “extermination of the bourgeoisie”. Nonetheless, the following question must seem permissible, even unavoidable: Did the National Socialists or Hitler perhaps commit an “Asiatic” deed merely because they and their ilk considered themselves to be the potential victims of an “Asiatic” deed? Wasn’t the 'Gulag Archipelago' more original than Auschwitz? Was the Bolshevik murder of an entire class not the logical and factual prius of the "racial murder" of National Socialism? Cannot Hitler's most secret deeds be explained by the fact that he had not forgotten the rat cage? Did Auschwitz in its root causes not originate in a past that would not pass?"
Along the same lines, Nolte had taken to referring to the Red Army as the "Asiatic horde". At the same time, another German historian Andreas Hillgruber argued that final stand of the Wehrmacht was a "justified" act that all historians should "identify" with as the Wehrmacht was the only thing that prevented the "flooding" of Central Europe by the Red Army. The American historian Kriss Ravetto noted that Hillgruber's picture of the Red Army as the "Asiatic hordes" who personified sexual barbarism and his use of "flooding" and body penetration imagery seemed to invoke traditional Yellow Peril stereotypes, especially the fear of an ravenous, demasculinizing Asian sexuality threatening whites. In addition Hillgruber seemed to have a fear of an all-consuming Asian sexuality that was the alleged reason for the rapes of millions of German women by the Red Army in 1945, which perhaps reflected deep-settled personal anxieties of his own. The German historian Hans Mommsen wrote in his opinion that Nolte's use of the phrase "Asiatic hordes" to describe Red Army soldiers, and his use of the word "Asia" as a byword for all that is horrible and cruel in the world reflected anti-Asian racism. The British historian Richard J. Evans wrote about Nolte's tendency to use the word Asiatic to describe Soviet crimes:
"The use of the word "Asiatic", even with the limited distance lent it by its enclosure in quotation marks, to describe the misdeeds of the Bolsheviks, inevitably recalls years of racist scaremongering, in which Communism was portrayed as the creed of slit-eyed subhumans threatening Germany from the East".
Nolte's thesis that Hitler was forced into committing the Holocaust is not widely accepted, and his reputation today as a historian is that of a "marginalized" figure.
At the core of the Yellow Peril ideology was the sexual fear of Asians, who according to the Yellow Peril theory had an unnatural and perverse sexuality that was a mortal threat to white civilization. The intense horror shown by Yellow Peril proponents towards interracial sex was because the prospect of interracial sex meant the prospect of interracial children, which in turn meant the prospect of the annihilation of whitenesss itself. The fear of Asian sexuality sometimes took the form of the insatiable, lascivious, but dominating "dragon lady", who was a tempting, if degrading object of desire for white men. In this regard, one source commented that it is striking how often Asian women were portrayed in Western films as scheming prostitutes, forever seeking to use their sexuality to ensnare and enslave white men. Gina Marchetti wrote in the Western imagination, Asia was associated with “…material opulence, moral laxity, sensuality, cultural decadence and exotic beauty, this seductiveness implies a peculiar spiritual danger and often a hidden threat to the Westerner…The fear springs from a desire or belief that Asia will entice, hypnotize, entrap and suffocate the Western traveler, who will masochistically give up his own identity to be engulfed by what Freudians might describe as a metaphoric womb-tomb”.
More commonly Yellow Peril sexual fears were that of the Asian men corrupting white women via seduction and/or rape. The American culture critic Gary Hoppenstand wrote:
"The threat of rape, the rape of white society dominated the yellow formula. The British or American hero, during the course of his battle against the yellow peril, overcome numerous traps and obstacles in order to save his civilization, and the primary symbol of that civilization: white women. Stories featuring the Yellow Peril were arguments for white purity. Certainly, the potential union of the Oriental and white implied at best, a form of beastly sodomy and at worse, a Satanic marriage. The Yellow Peril stereotype easily become incorporated into Christian mythology, and the Oriental assumed the role of the devil or demon. The Oriental rape of white woman signified a spiritual damnation for the women, and at the larger level, white society".
In the 1915 film The Cheat, the wealthy Japanese gentleman Hishuru Tori (Sessue Hayakawa) is portrayed as a sexual predator and a sexual sadist who menaces an American housewife Edith Hardy (Fannie Ward). Tori who is portrayed as superficially Westernized is revealed as a would be rapist, which reflects his true Asian identity. Tori is shown to be: "...brutal and cultivated, wealthy and base, cultured and barbaric, Tori embodies the contradictory qualities Americans associate with Japan". Initially Tori shown as asexual within the upper crust society of Long Island, but once Tori takes Hardy into his private study decorated with Japanese artwork, he is shown as having a "...brooding, implicitly sadistic sexuality...". At times, before he tries to rape her, the film hints that Hardy is in fact on some level attracted to Tori, an aspect that was heightened by the fact that Tori was played by Hayakawa (who was considered to be a sex symbol at the time), something that would had made him seen as threat to the existing racial and sexual order by most white men in 1915.
Even more typical of such portrayals was the Chinese warlord General Henry Chang (Warner Oland) in the 1932 film Shanghai Express, who is presented as being not only as Eurasian, but as having a menacing asexuality that places him outside of the conventionally defined world of Western sexuality and racial order which makes him as much danger to the Western characters who he has taken hostage as is the fact that he is a vicious warlord. Through Chang is Eurasian, he takes pride in his Chinese heritage while rejecting his American heritage, which confirms his Eastern identity. War-torn China, circa 1931 is presented as a "hell", which a diverse group of Westerners must travel through on a nightmarish train trip from Beijing to Shanghai, which takes a turn for the worse when the train is hijacked by Chang and his men. The film strongly hints that Chang is a bisexual who not only wants to rape the heroine Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich), but also the hero Captain Donald "Doc" Harvey (Clive Brook). When the German opium smuggler Erich Baum (Gustav von Seyffertitz) insults Chang, the result is a scene where the warlord commits a symbolic rape, as the sadistic Chang clearly takes sexual pleasure in branding Baum with a red-hot poker. After he is branded, the once proud Baum becomes notably cowed and submissive towards Chang who in a certain sense now "owes" him , which reflected the ultimate Yellow Peril fear of Westerners becoming the slaves of the East and its perverted sexuality. Later on, Chang does actually rape Hui Fei (Anna May Wong). Gina Marchetti suggests that Chang's desire to blind Harvey is not only meant literally, but is also a metaphor for castration, which even under the more permissive Production code in effect in 1932 would have been a taboo subject. In a marked contrast to Chang's twisted sexuality and his "almost effeminate polish" , the British Army Captain Harvey is a resolutely heterosexual, ruggedly tough soldier with a deep romantic streak who more than amply proved his manliness in the trenches of World War I, presenting a model of Western masculinity and strength. At several times, the film hints that Shanghai Lily and Hui Fei are more than best friends, and are in fact engaged in a lesbian relationship, so when the film ends with Lily choosing Harvey as her lover, this serves as a testament to his manly Western sex appeal, which "redeems" her from her life as a prostitute. At the same time that Shanghai Express embraces Yellow Peril stereotypes through the character of Chang, it also to some extent undermines them through the character of Hui, who is shown crying inconsolably after being raped by Chang, which gives her a certain humanity and allows the audience to sympathize with her. Hui is a courtesan who is looked down upon by all Western characters except for her best friend Lily on the account of her race and profession, but she is shown as possessing dignity and a willingness to stand up for herself. Several scenes seemed to suggest that Shanghai Lily and Hui are more attracted to one another then either are to Captain Harvey, through this may be suggesting Hui's sexuality is not quite normal (most people in 1932 would considered bi-sexuality to be unnatural). The same criticism might be applied to Lily, but the film ends with Lily embracing heterosexual love by kissing Harvey while Hui walks off into the distance alone, sadder as a result of losing her best friend to Harvey and because she was raped, but otherwise unchanged. Finally, it is Hui who saves Harvey in the climax from being blinded/raped/castrated at the hands of Chang by killing Chang; Hui explains the killing as her way of regaining the self-respect that Chang had taken away from her.
The East Asia studies professor Tim Thompson argued that the key factor behind the Yellow Peril was that of Asians have an all-consuming, devouring sexuality that threatens to destroy the West. Thompson argued that the “perfect example” of such fear could be found in a 2007 graphic pornographic horror short story “The Fall: With A Whimper” by a Canadian horror writer published under the pseudonym Tantric Legion. In the story, intelligent, hermaphrodite parasitical worms arrive in China from outer space, which are described as “sexual parasites” about 1 feet long and 3 inches in diameter in the story. The phallic-shaped worms in quasi-rape scenes penetrate into human bodies by forcing their way into vaginas and anuses, and then take over the minds of their victims. The story concerns a pretty young schoolteacher in Jiuquan named Mei. An utterly terrified Mei spends the first half of the story attempting to avoid being infected, and after she herself is infected, sets out to infect the rest of humanity. Once infected, “Mei host” as she now calls herself considers herself to be a "good slave" whose only longing is to do the bidding of her “masters” as she affectionately calls the worms that control her mind and body, and whose "one fervent wish" is to create a “glorious new civilization”, where all humanity will be blessed by a “shared consciousness”. The worms also transform the bodies of their victims, and Mei now endowed with “swollen breasts and a constant state of sexual arousal”, has no trouble seducing people, who she then infects. That the author regards Mei's transformation from a demure schoolteacher into a sex-crazed zombie as a positive change might reflect some issues on his part with Asian women. At the climax of the story, Mei seduces and infects the leader of China. Having sex with Party Secretary Chen, "Mei host" releases some of the worms within her body, which crawl out of her vagina, and while the hapless Chen is held in place by a smiling Mei, the worms proceed to force their way into his body via his rectum. Once in control in China, millions of infected Chinese are send out to infect the rest of humanity. The story ends with thousands of infected Chinese, all eerily silent and controlled by an inhuman collective intelligence, boarding planes at airports all over China to achieve the goal of subjecting humanity. The infected Chinese are compared to insects, whose attacks on other countries are described as a "swarming". The story invokes much of the imagery associated with the Yellow Peril theory, albeit in a much more sexualized and literalized way than traditionally was the case "via a thin sci-fi plot device". The Yellow Peril theory often invoked images of flooding, invasion, swarming and body penetration, and of vast, mindless insect-like Asian masses controlled by a sinister intelligence. The story not only invokes the flood and bodily penetration imagery associated with the Yellow Peril theory, but also the classic Yellow Peril stereotype of the Chinese as a vast, inhuman horde with no real individual personalities overwhelming the rest of humanity. Because the worms are hermaphrodites, the story invokes the Yellow Peril fear of ambiguous sexuality as well. In this case the Chinese literally are a foreign body within the world as their bodies and minds are controlled by extraterrestrial worms.
Another variant of concerns about Asian sexuality were expressed in romances between Western "white knights" and the Eastern "Lotus Blossom" characters. The “Lotus Blossom” characters were usually portrayed favorably enough, but the point of such characters are that they need the love of a white man to rescue them from their deeply flawed cultures. In the romances between the Western "White Knight" and Eastern "Lotus Blossom", the Asian heroine was portrayed favorably as an ultra-feminine model of female beauty and grace, but she almost always needed to be saved from her own people by a white man, reaffirming the moral superiority of the West. In the 1960 film The World of Suzie Wong, the Hong Kong prostitute Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan) is shown as a lost soul who is saved by the love of the American painter Robert Lomax (William Holden). Unlike Lomax's unpleasant, career-minded British girlfriend Kay O'Neill (Sylvia Syms), Wong is shown as more submissive and feminine than O'Neill, and who only works as a prostitute because of appalling poverty, which the film suggests is the natural condition of Asia. Hong Kong's economic take-off into a "Asian Tiger Economy" was only just beginning in 1959 when the film was shot. The contrast between Wong and O'Neill seems to be saying that if Western women want a man like Lomax, then they should emulate the passive Wong rather then the controlling O'Neill. Wong is so submissive and masochistic that in one sequence she “…proudly displays signs of a beating to her fellow hookers and uses it as evidence that her man loves her.”  Lomax needs Wong as his muse as her eroticism gives him the necessary inspiration to become the great painter he always wanted to be. Wong is an illiterate orphan who was the victim of childhood sexual abuse and is regularly abused by her mostly Chinese customers. That Lomax is portrayed as more enlightened and caring than both the male Chinese and the British characters suggests the moral superiority of the United States not only over Hong Kong society, but also over the decaying British Empire, implying that the Americans will be better custodians of Asia than the British ever were. When a British sailor tries to rape Wong, the chivalrous Lomax comes to the rescue and gives the would be rapist a good beating. Wong had a child by an unseen Chinese man whom she had a relationship with and who has abandoned her and their son, thereby emphasizing the casually cruel, uncaring nature of Hong Kong society. In contrast to the casual brutality that Chinese and British characters show towards Wong, the sensitive artist Lomax loves the "child-woman" Wong and saves her by giving her a new identity as his idealized, docile woman, whom he treats in a very paternal fashion. For almost the entire film, Wong wears a Chinese Cheongsam dress, but when she appears in Western clothing, Lomax rips off her dress, and tells her only to wear a cheongsam, emphasizing that Lomax is only prepared to accept Wong if she conforms to what his ideas about what a proper Asian woman should be like.
In the 1989 opera Miss Saigon, Vietnam is portrayed as a mysterious, exotic, sensuous place yet full of incomprehensible savagery and incredible “filth”. The prostitute heroine Kim is portrayed as the “Lotus Blossom” archetype , the innocent but sexually available, frail, mysterious, demure and submissive Asian beauty whose life is defined by her love for a white man, in this case the American soldier Chris Scott. The fact that every single Vietnamese female character in Miss Saigon is a prostitute, most of whom are "Dragon Ladies" who parade their bodies in string bikinis confirms the popular Western stereotype of Asian women as being ultra-sexualized. Kim is the only woman at the Dreamland brothel who does not walk around all the time in a string bikini. The passivity and moral purity of Kim, who is utterly faithful towards Chris despite the fact that he abandoned her and their son in Vietnam and married an American women Ellen seems to be suggesting that the proper place of an Asian woman is to be subservient towards a white man. Despite her profession as a prostitute, the 17-year old Kim is portrayed as a virginal innocent, in need of Chris's protection from the cruel world of Saigon. One of the songs Chris sings about Kim is addressed both to her and Vietnam, suggesting that Kim is Vietnam. The idealized and passive character of Kim, who is portrayed as being the true Vietnam stands in marked contrast to the male Vietnamese characters. Thuy, the Viet Cong man who wants to marry Kim is portrayed as violent, jealous, cruel and possessive and whose interest in Kim is purely exploitative as opposed to Chris’s love. The character of the vicious, sleazy pimp Tran Van Dinh aka the Engineer is an Eurasian man whose sexuality is “…simply incomprehensible, illegible, indeterminate, even as it is spectacularly displayed”. The American East Asia studies professor Karen Shimakawa described the Engineer as "...simultaneously lascivious, sexually exploitative, pansexual and desexualized". The Engineer had a French father and a Vietnamese mother, but throughout the opera it is always his “orientalness” that he displays. Shimakawa wrote “…the Engineer embodies an uncategorizable yet spectacular perversity-a condition that, the logic of the play suggests, is hereditary: it is the direct result of his racially and nationally mixed beginnings in prostitution and sexual debauchery”. Chris's best friend, the aptly named John is an African-American man who is an enthusiastic patron of the women of the Dreamland brothel, thereby playing to the stereotype of black men as having an unrestrained, lascivious sexuality. Unlike the romantic Chris, John sees the women of the Dreamland brothel only as sex objects, and is much given to crude, macho boosting about his sexual prowess. In contrast to these examples of flawed masculinity, the white Chris is portrayed as kind, gentle man with a genuine love and concern for Kim, who sings at one point: “I wanted to save her, protect her/Christ, I’m an American/How could I fail to do good?”.
- In 1898, the British writer M. P. Shiel published a short story serial entitled The Empress of the Earth. The later novel edition was named The Yellow Danger. Shiel's novel centers on the murder of two German missionaries in Kiau-Tschou in 1897 and features the Chinese villain, Dr. Yen How.
- Émile Driant, a French officer and right-wing Catholic political activist, wrote under the pen name of Capitaine Danrit The Yellow Invasion in 1905. The story depicts the surprise attack against the Western world by a gigantic Sino-Japanese army, covertly equipped with American-made weapons and secretly trained in the remote Chinese hinterland. The plot is hatched by a Japanese veteran of the Russo-Japanese War: coming out of the war with a fanatical hatred of Westerners, he organizes a world-spanning secret society named the Devouring Dragon in order to destroy Western civilization.
- Jack London's 1910 story "The Unparalleled Invasion", presented as a historical essay narrating events between 1976 and 1987, describes a China with an ever-increasing population taking over and colonising its neighbors, with the intention of eventually taking over the entire Earth. Thereupon the nations of the West open biological warfare and bombard China with dozens of the most infectious diseases—among them smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, and Black Death—with all Chinese attempting to flee being shot down by armies and navies massed around their country's land and sea borders, and the few survivors of the plague invariably put to death by expeditions entering China. This genocide is described in considerable detail, and nowhere is there mentioned any objection to it. The terms "yellow life" and "yellow populace" appear in the story. It ends with "the sanitation of China" and its re-settlement by Westerners, "the democratic American programme" as London puts it.
- The J. Allan Dunn novel, The Peril of the Pacific, a 1916 serial in the pulp magazine People's, describes an attempted invasion of the western United States by Japan. The novel, set in 1920, posits an alliance between Japanese immigrants in America and the Japanese navy. It reflects contemporaneous anxiety over the status of Japanese immigrants, 90% of whom lived in California, and who were exempt from anti-immigration legislation in accordance with the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907. The novel implies that the primary loyalty of America's Japanese immigrants was to their homeland.
- Philip Francis Nowlan's novella Armageddon 2419 A.D., which first appeared in the August 1928 and was the start of the long-lasting popular Buck Rogers series, depicted a future America which had been occupied and colonized by cruel invaders from China, which the hero and his friends proceed to fight and kill wholesale.
- Pulp author Arthur J. Burks contributed a series of eleven short stories to All Detective Magazine (1933–34) featuring detective Dorus Noel in conflict with a variety of sinister operators in Manhattan's Chinatown.
- Robert A. Heinlein's 1949 novel Sixth Column depicts American resistance to an invasion by a blatantly racist and genocidally cruel "PanAsian" empire.
- H. P. Lovecraft was in constant fear of Asiatic culture engulfing the world. A few of his stories reflect this, such as The Horror At Red Hook, where "slant-eyed immigrants practice nameless rites in honor of heathen gods by the light of the moon", and He, where the protagonist is given a glimpse of the future—the "yellow men" have conquered the world, and now dance to their drums over the ruins of the white man.
- Gung Ho! is a 1943 American war action film which presents a somewhat fictionalized account of the Makin Island raid led by Marine Colonel Evans Carlson in 1942. The Japanese are portrayed as ape-like creatures who neither give nor ask for mercy.
- In A Separate Peace (1959) by John Knowles, Phineas and Gene decide that Brinker is Madame Chiang Kai-shek, and is therefore Chinese. They nickname him Yellow Peril.
- Peter George's novel Commander-1 (1965) features a villain named Comrade Li. Comrade Li, despite his name having only a thin veneer of Communism or Marxism, being rather a suave philosopher steeped in ancient Chinese learning—whose cold-blooded machinations bring about a nuclear holocaust in which nearly all humanity perishes (including China, which he sought to make great) and who eventually meets a suitable gruesome and ignominious end.
- Yellow Peril is a book by Wang Lixiong, written under the pseudonym Bao Mi, about a civil war in the People's Republic of China that becomes a nuclear exchange and soon engulfs the world, causing World War III. It's notable for Wang Lixiong's politics, as a Chinese dissident and outspoken activist; its publication following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989; and its popularity due to bootleg distribution across China even when the book was banned by the Communist Party of China.
- The 1992 Michael Crichton novel Rising Sun depicts Japanese corporations as secretly controlling the United States for their own advantage.
- "Yellow Peril" is also the name of a song written and performed by Steely Dan founders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker before the first Steely Dan album, later released on various anthologies such as Becker and Fagen: The Early Years. The song includes various Asian motifs and references predating later Steely Dan and related works such as "Bodhisattva", "Aja", and "Green Flower Street".
Fu Manchu and kin
The Yellow Peril was a common theme in the fiction of the time. Perhaps most representative of this is Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu novels. Dr. Fu Manchu is an evil Chinese mad scientist/gangster out to take over the world, and being constantly foiled by the British policeman/spy Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and his assistant Dr. Petrie. The Fu Manchu character is believed to have been patterned on the antagonist of the 1898 Yellow Peril series by British writer M. P. Shiel. About the character of Dr. Fu Manchu, the British writer Jack Adrian wrote that Rohmer was :
"...a shameless inflater of a peril that was no peril at all (the "Yellow Peril") into an absurd global conspiracy.
He had not even the excuse (if excuse is the word) of his predecessor in this shabby lie, M.P. Shiel, who was a vigorous racist, sometimes exhibiting a hatred and horror of Jews and Far Eastern races. Rohmer's own racism was careless and casual, a mere symptom of the times. But he recognized other's people's fears and loathings, and tapped directly into them with his saga of the fiendish, and seemingly deathless, Dr. Fu Manchu, whose millions of minions were ever bidding their time, awaiting the order to inundate and subjugate the Western white races, and particularly the British Isles. Even more particularly, London, for at the heart of the Empire the teeming hordes of "heathen Chinese" swarmed like hyperactive rats around Limehouse Reach and Wapping Old Stairs, poised to flood the capital, turn its citizens into opium or cocaine addicts, and carry off the flower of British maidenhood to the stews of Shanghai.
This nonsense was believed more or less seriously by just about all classes, even though, as the sociologist Virginia Berridge has determined, the ethnic Chinese population of the Limehouse area-indeed, the whole of London's East End-in the period 1900 through to the Second World War ran to a few hundred at most, the majority of whom were engaged in respectable professions such as cooking and laundering (clothes, not money). As for narcotics, this was notably the province of "black" immigrants than "yellow" (the well-heeded Chinese restaurant-owner "Brilliant Chang" notwithstanding), most of the actual drugs coming from Germany, where cocaine production was virtually unregulated. And so far as white slavery went, it was to Buenos Aires that most of the young girls (dancers, usually lured by spurious advertisements in The Stage) traveled.
Nevertheless, with Fu Manchu and his strange cohorts and even more bizarre "pets" (monstrous spiders, lizards, hamadryads, batrachians unknown to science, murderous lepidopterae, Venus fly-traps capable of digesting a man) Rohmer accomplished what all writers of popular fiction yearn for but rarely achieve-the creation of a character who transcends mere popularity and becomes an entry in the dictionary."
Dr. Fu Manchu led an international criminal organisation known as the Si-Fan, which comprised a pan-Asian "murder gang" from the "darkest places of the East" with countless number of Chinese, Burmese, Malay, and Indian thugs all willing to perform his every command. A recurring scene in Fu Manchu novels are the scenes where Fu dispatches Chinese and/or Indian assassins to kill Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie, who are literally surrounded by foreign bodies wishing to do them harm and metaphorically making the point that the East has wrongly trespassed into the West.
Film adaptations of the Dr. Fu Manchu novels are typified by The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), with Boris Karloff playing the title role. Reflecting the centrality of sexual fear to the Yellow Peril, in the film Fu gives a speech before a vast pan-Asian army urging them to "Kill the white man and take his women!". Several times The Mask of Fu Manchu hints that Fu is engaged in an incestuous relationship with his equally evil daughter Fah Lo See (Myrna Loy), which suggests once more the alleged abnormal sexuality of Asians. The American East Asia studies professor Huang Yunte wrote that Hollywood offered up two radically contrasting images of Asian men in the 1930s; the malevolent master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu vs. the benevolent master detective Charlie Chan. The Irish film studies professor Rod Stoneman noted how "...Rohmer’s concoction of cunning Asian villainy connects with the irrational fears of proliferation and incursion: racist myths often carried by the water imagery of flood, deluge, the tidal waves of immigrants, rivers of blood." Through Rohmer always denied being a racist, in 1936 when his novels were banned in Germany (the Nazi regime thought the name Rohmer sounded Jewish), Rohmer wrote a letter where he declared he was “a good Irishman” and he did not know why his novels had been banned because “my stories are not inimical to Nazi ideals”.
Another "Yellow Devil" villain is Li Shoon, a fictional villain of Chinese ethnicity created by H. Irving Hancock, first published in 1916. As common in the pulp fiction of the times, the depiction of Li Shoon had considerable racial stereotypes. He was described as being "tall and stout" and having "a round, moonlike yellow face" topped by "bulging eyebrows" and "sunken eyes". He has "an amazing compound of evil" which makes him "a wonder at everything wicked", and "a marvel of satanic cunning". DC Comics featured "Ching Lung" in Detective Comics, and he appeared on the cover of the first issue (March 1937).
Emperor Ming the Merciless, nemesis of Flash Gordon, was another iteration of the Fu Manchu trope. Peter Feng calls him a "futuristic Yellow Peril", quoting a reviewer who referred to Ming as a "slanty eyed, shiny doomed, pointy nailed, arching eyebrowed, exotically dressed Oriental". Likewise, Buck Rogers fought against the "Mongol Reds" also known as "Hans", who had taken over America in the 25th century. In the late 1950s, Atlas Comics (now Marvel Comics) debuted the Yellow Claw, a Fu Manchu pastiche. Marvel would later use the actual Fu Manchu as the principal foe of his son, Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu in the 1970s. Other characters inspired by Rohmer's Fu Manchu include Pao Tcheou.
A 1977 Doctor Who serial, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, builds a science fiction plot upon another loose Fu Manchu pastiche. In this case, the key "yellow devil" character serves to enable an ill-intentioned time traveller from the fifty-first century. The principle villain is not Chinese, but rather a deformed Caucasian man named Magnus Greel, a war criminal from 51st century who has escaped into the 19th century, and is posing as the (fictional) Chinese god Weng-Chiang. Greel's followers are the Tong of the Black Scorpion, who are willing to obey his every command. Besides for the murderous Peking Homunculus cyborg, Greel's principle assistant is the magician Li H'sen Chang, the supposed leader of the Black Scorpion triad, who kidnaps British women to be dissolved in order to provide Greel with their "life essences" to keep him alive. Greel is not Asian, but the fact that the Chinese characters worship Greel as the god Weng-Chiang whereas the British characters can clearly realize that Greel is no god seems to be suggesting that Chinese have lower intelligence than the British. With the exception of Li who starts out as a charismatic gangster/magician, but who turns out to be pathetic, deluded, opium-addled pawn, none of the Black Scorpion triad seemed to have any individual personalities. The Black Scorpion triads hardly ever speak as they silently go about doing Greel`s biddings on the dark, fog-shrouded streets of Victorian London.
Yellow Peril: The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe, by Richard Jaccoma (1978) is both a pastiche and a benign parody of the Sax Rohmer novels. As the title suggests, it's a distillation of the trope, focusing on the psychosexual stereotype of the seductive Asian woman as well that of the ruthless Mongol conqueror that underlies much of supposed threat to Western civilization. Written for a sophisticated modern audience, it uses the traditional use of first-person narrative to portray the nominal hero Sir John Weymouth-Smythe as simultaneously a lecher and a prude, torn between his desires and Victorian sensibilities but unable to acknowledge, much less resolve, his conflicted impulses. Set in the 1930s, the novel concerns the quest for the mystical "Spear of Destiny", an ancient relic with immense supernatural powers which gives whoever possesses it control of the world. Weymouth-Smythe spends much of the novel battling a Dr. Fu Manchu-type character named Chou en Shu for the Spear of Destiny, only for it to be revealed Chou is not the villain at all. Rather the real danger were the German characters who were all fanatical Nazis and who were Weymouth-Smythe's nominal allies in seeking the Spear of Destiny. Chou en Shu is an ancient Chinese mystic with an enormous penis who rapes women (who greatly enjoy the experience by the end), and turns them into his devoted, willing sex slaves (there is something within his semen that takes over the minds of his female victims), using them as his tools to accomplish his goals when they not serving in his harem. Chou's mission is to foil the Nazis in their efforts to take control of the Spear of Destiny, in order to save the world. The fact that Weymouth-Smyte does not realize until it almost too late that the Nazis are the real danger rather the "Yellow Peril" stereotype he rather mindlessly associates with Chou is novel's way of saying that it is fascism and racism within the West, not an imaginary "Yellow Peril" that the real danger to the world. The cover blurbs for the paperback edition declaim "Erotic adventure in the style of the original 'pulps'" and "'A Porno-Fairytale-Occult-Thriller!' according to the Village Voice". It is clearly in the same line as the contemporaneous works of Philip José Farmer, "updating" Rohmer the way Farmer updated Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester Dent, and Walter B. Gibson.
- Alien land laws
- Asian American
- Pejorative terms for Chinese people
- Model minority
- Black face
- Murder of Vincent Chin
- Red Chinese Battle Plan
- Stereotypes of East Asians in the Western world
- Turban Tide - Similar fears toward Indian immigrants
- White Australia policy
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- Олег Анатольевич Тимофеев (Oleg Anatolyevich Timofeyev). "Российско-китайские отношения в Приамурье (сер. XIX – нач. XX вв.)" (Russian-Chinese relations in the Amur region, mid-19th - early 20th centuries). Part 2. Blagoveshchensk, 2003. Quote: "3 июля благовещенский полицмейстер Батаревич предложил военному губернатору Амурской области К.Н. Грибскому депортировать китайцев на правый берег... Сразу же возник вопрос о транспортных средствах для перевозки нескольких тысяч человек... Батаревич в конечном итоге принял решение о переправе всех китайцев в районе ст. Верхнеблаговещенской – месте, где Амур наиболее узок... По прибытии в ст. Верхнеблаговещенскую события приняли еще более драматический оборот. Местный атаман Писарев, несмотря на приказ председателя амурского войскового правления полковника Волковинского, наотрез отказался предоставить китайцам имевшиеся у него шаланду и лодки, опасаясь их захвата противником. Китайцам было предложено переправляться самим, хотя среди них имелись старики и дети. К этому времени к берегу подошли озлобленные продолжающимся обстрелом местные жители. Совершенно естественное нежелание депортируемых самим идти на смерть окружившими их русскими было воспринято почти как вооруженное восстание. Во время последующего следствия Шабанов и Писарев пытались обвинить друг друга в попустительстве началу расправы. Начальник конвоя указывал в рапорте, что стрелял один из местных казаков, неизвестно по чьему приказу. При опросе атамана и казаков станицы ими было заявлено, что переправа (то есть истребление – О.Т.) началась лишь после того, как помощник пристава «принял более строгие меры». На деле эти меры свелись к уничтожению безоружных китайцев как на берегу, так и уже в воде. Как гласят цинские источники, депортируемых связывали косами по пять-шесть человек и штыками загоняли в воду. Отказавшихся переправляться Шабанов приказал, по свидетельству очевидцев, зарубить топорами. По некоторым данным, огонь был открыт и с цинской стороны. Из всей партии до противоположного берега доплыли лишь 80-100 человек".
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