Yellow Peril (sometimes Yellow Terror) was a racist phrase that originated in the late nineteenth century with immigration of Chinese laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States. The term, a color metaphor for race, refers to the skin color of East Asians, and the xenophobia that the mass immigration of Asians threatened white wages, standards of living and indeed, Western civilization itself. The phrase "yellow peril" was common in the newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst.

Many sources credit Kaiser Wilhelm II with coining the phrase "Yellow Peril" (in German, "gelbe Gefahr") in September 1895.

While immigration of Asians was not a major issue in Europe, the rise of Japan as a major world power was a cause of anxiety for some Europeans.

In 1898 M. P. Shiel published a short story serial The Yellow Danger. Shiel took the murder of two German missionaries in Kiau-Tschou 1897 to spread his anti-Chinese feelings.Template:Cn In later editions the serial was named The Yellow Peril.

United StatesEdit

The notion of "yellow peril" manifested itself in government policy with the U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which reduced Chinese immigration from 30,000 per year to just 105. The labor leader Samuel Gompers argued, "The superior whites had to exclude the inferior Asiatics, by law, or, if necessary, by force of arms."

In 1920, the author Lothrop Stoddard wrote The Rising Tide of Color arguing against Asian immigration, claiming immigrants threatened American society, with their presence a "peril."

Lynchings of Asian immigrants by vigilante groups were common in the early 1900s, paralleling the activities of the Ku Klux Klan and related groups in the South against African-Americans. California academics such as David Starr Jordan and politicians such as James D. Phelan (who ran for mayor of San Francisco and United States Senate on the platform of "Keeping California White") were firm believers in the "yellow peril", and the politics of Washington highlighted "yellow peril". The fear of the yellow peril reached its peak during World War II after the Japanese Navy's attack on Pearl Harbor. The Yellow Peril as the primary form of West Coast racism and as a factor in politics seemed to die out in the mid-20th century, perhaps due to guilt over the Japanese American internment during World War II.

In the 1980s the Yellow Peril was revived as the U.S. was in intense competition with Japan over industrial supremacy. Many believedTemplate:Cn that the beating to death of Vincent Chin was a part of that U.S. sentiment.

Since the 1990s there has been increased concern in the United States over what has been perceived as an attempt by the People's Republic of China to challenge the United States militarily and economically. [1]

The Yellow Peril is a major topic of study in Asian American studies.


See White Australia policy.

New ZealandEdit

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. Measures designed to curb Chinese immigration included a substantial poll tax, which was abolished in 1944 following Imperial Japan's invasion and occupation of China, and for which the New Zealand government has since issued a formal apology.

Yellow Peril mythEdit

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.

The "Yellow Peril" was a frequent theme of pulp fiction in the early twentieth century. The Swedish author Sven Lindqvist has pointed out that several science fiction novels from the time depicting cataclysmic clashes of civilizations take particular relish in describing the ultimate defeat of the Chinese, as compared to Africans or communists.

Jack London's 1914 story "The Unparalleled Invasion", taking place in a fictional 1975, described 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 "mopping up" expeditions entering China.

This genocide, described in considerable sickening detail, is throughout the book described as justified and "the only possible solution to the Chinese problem", and nowhere is there mentioned any objection to it. The terms "Yellow Race", "Yellow crowds in streets", "yellow faces" and the like are frequently repeated throughout the story. It ends with the edifying spectacle of "The Sanitation of China" and its re-settlement by Western settlers, "the democratic American programme" as London puts it (see [1], [2]).

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 colonised by cruel invaders from China, which the hero and his friends proceed to fight and kill wholesale.

Robert A. Heinlein's 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 worldTemplate:Cn, and a few of his stories reflect this.

In the late 1950s, Atlas Comics debuted the Yellow Claw, a Fu Manchu pastiche. However, a growing realization of the racist nature of the character archetype led toTemplate:Cn the villain having a handsome young Asian FBI agent, James Woo, being his principal opponent. 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.

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, a Chinese dissident and outspoken activist, its publication following 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.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

ja:黄禍論 pl:Żółte niebezpieczeństwo zh-yue:黃禍 zh:黄祸

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