Updated: Mar 29
This Foreword is written by Kroeger Policy Review's Editor-in-Chief, Brian Huynh. This piece is part of Kroeger Policy Review's third issue on Canada-China relations. The full issue is available here.
The image that serves as the background for this issue is the alleged 18th century recreation of a map developed in 1418 by Ming dynasty admiral, Zheng He, during his explorations of the world.
The map, entitled “general chart of the integrated world” negates European claims to the discovery of the modern world. While scholars have been thoroughly debunked claims that China discovered the New World, the map’s veracity or lack thereof, does no disservice to its symbolism. The portrayal of the world, and especially Canada, rendered through a Chinese projection as opposed to the traditional, Western Mercator projection serves as a reminder to reflect upon the ways in which we’ve internalized European beliefs as truths and values and to think critically about the long historical traditions informing our national relationships and perceptions.
Throughout Kroeger Policy Review’s third issue on Canada-China relations, you will find a reprise reminding you that there has been no colder patch in the relationship between Canada and China than now. The extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the unravelling of Hong Kong’s democracy, the status of Taiwan, the Uyghur genocide; China’s role in the world: with the answers to all of these questions shrouded by the future, there is no predicting what is to come. Our issue touches on all of these important issues and more, taking a critical, systematic approach to decoupling important elements of the Canada-China relationship to critique and analyze the individual parts.
I feel that it is important to state the fact that the critiques our writers make of China are directed solely at its government, not its people, and not its diaspora. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the shocking swiftness at which anger towards the Chinese government was transposed into racist acts against Asians in Canada and the United States with almost 3,000 anti-Asian attacks in the US since the pandemic began. From where I write in the nation’s capital, there has been a significant increase in racist incidents against the Asian community.
It is during times like the present that it is important to remember the persistence of racism across all marginalized peoples in Canada. As a Vietnamese Canadian I have long heard claims that Asians have it easier than other races and that our oppression is lesser. I have seen this rhetoric contrast with the way my community has felt, especially in this moment. I have no interest in stack ranking oppression. While it is clear the legacy of oppression runs deeper through our history for some peoples than for others, it is important to remember the potential danger in concepts like white adjacency and the model minority myth, and to remember that none of us are free until we all are.
I hope in this issue you’re able to learn more about the elements of the Canada-China relationship that are fraught with tension and controversy, but also the elements of the relationship that are fraught with unspoken truths and the need to speak.
I want to thank my co-founders Matthew Winter and Hibagh Ahmed for all of their hard work in organizing this issue. I want to thank all of the writers and editors on this issue for producing such an analytical and informative body of work.
I want to thank the Arthur Kroeger College, the Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management program, and the Bachelor of Global and International Affairs program for their continued support of the Kroeger Policy Review.
I hope you find this issue informative and empowering.