China’s version of Jim Crow

Jonah Goldberg devotes his latest column at National Review Online to an underreported element of communist Chinese society.

[C]onsider the fact that Jim Crow is alive and well — and living in China.

America’s Jim Crow system of second-class citizenship is rightly remembered as our version of apartheid: a racist raft of laws designed to dehumanize and marginalize African Americans in the name of white supremacy. But it was also a form of economic regulation designed to prevent blacks from participating fully in the labor market and to protect business from the supposedly dire threat of rising wages. Such statist crony capitalism doesn’t detract from the moral horror of Jim Crow, but it does help put it in context.

In China, there is systemic discrimination against non-Han Chinese. Ethnic minorities — about 10 percent of the Chinese population — are routinely denied access to elite universities and urban job markets in the name of Han supremacy. Under China’s internal-passport system, many non-Han aren’t permitted to even look for work outside of their rural provinces. Tibetan and Uighur citizens are often barred from using Chinese hotels.

Not only does China have its own version of Jim Crow, it still has its own version of slavery. Under its prison labor system, laogai (“reform through labor”), millions of slaves churn out all manner of “Made in China” wares and even provide many of the organs for transplant surgeries in China.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...