Disaster and Blessing: Alternative Writings on Yellow Peril Narratives in Late Qing China


The Yellow Peril, with anti-Asian racism, has long been criticized. Some scholars noticed the Chinese reproduction of this discourse, but they tend to agree that Chinese intellectuals in the late Qing only emphasized China would threaten the West, thus ignoring the role of Chinese in the cultural translation. As Lydia H. Liu suggests, when a concept passes from the guest language to the host language, its legitimated new meaning is more invented within the local environment of the host language rather than just transformed. Huanghuo, literally meaning the yellow disaster, is believed to be the equivalence to the Yellow Peril. In the traditional vein of yin and yang, disaster and blessing are interchangeable. Therefore, Huanghuo is an unpleasant object that should be transformed into its opposite: Fu, namely fortunate and happiness. Drawing on the political commentaries of Chinese intellectuals and popular fiction in the late Qing, this paper will explore the process of cultural translation from the Yellow Peril to Huanghuo and point out that Huanghuo represented the slave nature and the ideal citizens of the Chinese at the same time. In vernacular literature, Huanghuo retained its local meaning as a disaster and was used to accuse Chinese nationals of servility. Meanwhile, Huangfu took up the positive place of the Yellow Peril. To conclude, both represented the intention of Chinese intellectuals to enlighten the Chinese people and reform late Qing China under the belief in the positive causal relationship between nationals and their nation as suggested by Liang Qichao.

Author Information
Xinming Liao, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2023
Stream: Literature

This paper is part of the KAMC2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Liao X. (2023) Disaster and Blessing: Alternative Writings on Yellow Peril Narratives in Late Qing China ISSN: 2436-0503 – The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture 2023: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2436-0503.2023.45
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2436-0503.2023.45

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