Complaint to CBC: Painting critics of China’s Communist Party as “racist” hurts real victims of racism

Dear CBC Ombudsman,

I’m writing to you as a CBC Radio listener who wakes up every morning to The Early Edition with Stephen Quinn. I have appeared numerous times on your news programs on radio and television. I’m a Canadian taxpayer who has repeatedly fought against attempts by certain groups to defund the CBC because I appreciate the value of having a national public broadcaster when so much of the media landscape is corporate-controlled.

I’m deeply concerned by CBC’s article yesterday published under the headline “’Racist and inflammatory’: Canadians upset by Epoch Times claim China behind virus, made it as a bioweapon.”[1]https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/epoch-times-coronavirus-bioweapon-1.5548217

CBC’s portrayal of the Communist Party of China as a victim of racism diminishes the legitimacy of the struggle against racism that visible minority immigrants like me face.

When I was running for City Councillor some of my opponents shared a blog post advising people not to vote for me because “you can take a savage out of the jungle but you can’t take the jungle out of the savage.” [2]https://twitter.com/jonesj/status/1049680409825439744

I have been mocked for my accent on many occasions when I have spoken in public in support of my city’s economically marginalized. There have been threats made against me solely based on my ethnic heritage.

I’m not the only one. We hear about 12-year-old indigenous girls being handcuffed and detained by the police just for trying to open a bank account. Racial profiling targeting black, indigenous and people of colour by the Canada’s law enforcement officers is well documented.

Canada’s growing income gap is even more pronounced for racialized groups. The racialized poverty manifests itself in the form of “a double digit racialized income gap, higher than average unemployment, differential labour market participation, deepening and disproportionate exposure to low income, differential access to housing leading to Neighbourhood racial segregation, disproportionate contact with the criminal Justice system, particularly for racialized youth leading to the criminalization of youth and higher health risks.”[3]https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CERD/Shared%20Documents/CAN/INT_CERD_NGO_CAN_70_8253_E.pdf.

Racialized individuals like me are the very real victims of racism in Canada. Being criticized for one’s actions as a government does not make one a victim of racism. Your article targeting Epoch Times creates that false equivalency, which is deeply painful for a real victim of racism like me.

The Communist regime in China practices systemic racism based on their racist ideology of which has been described as “Han Chauvinism”. President Xi Jinping’s administration stands accused of committing ‘Cultural genocide’ against by separating Muslim children from their parents and putting them in concentration camps.

Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have sounded the alarm about how Chinese authorities are brutally cracking down on political opponents in occupied Tibet by restricting their fundamental rights[4]https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/29/china-crackdown-tibetan-social-groups. China is effectively erasing the Tibetan language by severely restricting ethnic Tibetans’ access to education in their mother language[5]https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/03/04/chinas-bilingual-education-policy-tibet/tibetan-medium-schooling-under-threat.

Meanwhile, African nations are crying foul about systemic racism and xenophobia in China that’s leading to abusive and discriminatory treatment of Nigerians, Kenyans and other African citizens living there[6]https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-racism-discrimination-africa-china-326de397-a3f9-4993-9c8b-1dd303b593db.html.

The Chinese government is not a victim of racism or xenophobia. It’s a perpetrator of insidious racism targeting China’s own ethnic minorities and xenophobic abuse of African nationals.

The Communist Party of China is notorious for labelling its critics as “racist” to deflect blame away from the Chinese Government for its atrocious human rights record. For example, Lu Shaye, China’s envoy in Ottawa, called Canada “white supremacist” for calling for the release of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig – the two Canadians arbitrarily detained in and held without trial in China[7]https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/china-ambassador-white-supremacy-1.4971884.

One would expect a public broadcaster in China to frame Epoch Times – a publication founded by Chinese dissidents fleeing Chinese Communist Party’s brutal persecution – as racist for criticizing Chinese government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBC, however, is the national public broadcaster of Canada – a democratic nation where freedom of expression and the freedom of the press is enshrined in the constitution. It’s not to say that there are no valid criticisms of Epoch Times concerning its quality of journalism. But dismissing the publication’s criticism of Chinese Communist Party as racist is lazy, dangerous and deeply disappointing.

It’s lazy because by simply labelling Epoch Times as “racist” without trying to rebut their argument, CBC is committing the ad hominem fallacy.

It’s dangerous because CBC’s is using the same tactics employed by the Chinese government to silence critics of the Communist regime’s atrocities against minority groups.

It’s deeply disappointing for me as a visible minority immigrant Canadian to see Canada’s public broadcaster delegitimizing the struggle of real victims of racism like me.

I implore you to follow CBC’s mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain, and “actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression,” instead of resorting to taking cheap shots at critics of a brutal despotic regime.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Rohana Rezel

Rohana Rezel is a Vancouver-based tech worker and a housing advocate. You can reach him by email at [email protected] You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Github.

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/epoch-times-coronavirus-bioweapon-1.5548217
2. https://twitter.com/jonesj/status/1049680409825439744
3. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CERD/Shared%20Documents/CAN/INT_CERD_NGO_CAN_70_8253_E.pdf
4. https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/29/china-crackdown-tibetan-social-groups
5. https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/03/04/chinas-bilingual-education-policy-tibet/tibetan-medium-schooling-under-threat
6. https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-racism-discrimination-africa-china-326de397-a3f9-4993-9c8b-1dd303b593db.html
7. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/china-ambassador-white-supremacy-1.4971884