The journalist Rong Xiaoqing speaks about the change in the Chinese diaspora identities

On October 15, 2021, journalist Rong Xiaoqing, a reporter from Chant Tao daily and author of The New York TimesThe weekly newsletter, Overseas Chinese Journal, covered the changing relationship between the US and China, the impact these developments have had on the Chinese diaspora community, and the challenges of being a reporter at an online event sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. The moderator was Qin Gao from WEAI, professor and director of the China Center for Social Policy at the School of Social Work.

Xiaoqing’s long talk began with an anecdote from her early days in the United States, when relations with China seemed to be on the rise. During a keynote address at the National Committee on Relations between the United States and China in 2005, then Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick described China as a “stakeholder,” much to the surprise of event journalists. At this time the term “Chimerica” ​​was coined, a reference to the symbiotic economic relationship between the two countries. Today, Xiaoqing said, “decoupling” is the preferred term to describe the future of relations between the two countries.

Today, as the US government warns against espionage activities, Chinese students, scholars, and academics working or studying in the country increasingly feel under scrutiny and allegations of espionage. In addition, the people of Chinese descent living here are screened online by Chinese internet users, often through a nationalist lens. Ethnic Chinese with a public platform “feel cornered – that they have to choose which side of the road,” said Xiaoqing.

Fear of telling the truth and a common sense of identity

Xiaoqing described a feeling of fear among members of the Chinese diaspora in recent years related to speaking up and being attacked by the American authorities and expressing feelings that would expose them to criticism from the Chinese communities. This fear has made Xiaoqing’s job difficult, as it balances journalistic integrity with the need to protect its sources. Professor Gao added that reluctance has reached science as well.

As a reporter, Xiaoqing said her job was to tell the truth. “It sounds easy because there is a truth, but in today’s extremely polarized world the question always arises: whose truth are you telling?” Such questions lead to different value judgments about the veracity of your work, depending on the publication and the audience. she writes for – Chinese, English, ethnic media and more.

Other topics Xiaoqing covered included changes within the Sino-American community, integration and tensions between Sino-American and Chinese expats in the United States, anti-Asian attacks and discrimination, and Pan-Asian identity.

While the shifts have been discussed at length in a shared sense of Chinese identity, Xiaoqing ultimately believes that the differences between us are less than we often seem to think. Only one year after her stay in this country, in 2001, the terrorist attacks of September 11th took place. Experiencing the solidarity and sense of community that permeated New York City in her wake shaped both Xiaoqing’s worldview and her appreciation of the common humanity that underpins our diversity.


Ariana King is communications coordinator at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

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