Since the turn of the 20th century, languages in southern China suffered a downturn that extended from high society to the lower classes. When leaders that spoke southern languages began to extol the northern language Mandarin, they quickly propelled the entire society to follow suit.
Our story begins in 1895, when the Qing government lost the First Sino-Japanese War. It was perceived by the rulers as utter humiliation to lose to a nation that once kowtowed to the empire.
Since then, Chinese people increasingly studied abroad in Japan and Western countries, in hopes of bringing home foreign knowledge and know-how.
One of the ideas imported from the West was racialism (racism)—not the ensuing discrimination, but the fundamental idea of dividing human beings into ‘races’.Continue reading