Par volume 5

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Spring 2015

A University Of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Publication


Penn Asian Review Especially Thanks

The Center for East Asian studies

For their continued support for more information, please visit

Cover Source: Penn Asian Review


Editor’s Note The Penn Asian Review Board Consists of: Editor-in-Chief Sean Hamamoto

Copy Editor Rona Ji

Graduate Advisor Francis Miller

Associate Editors

John Grisafi Patrick Gadala-Maria

Editorial Assistant Scott Wang


Anissa Tang

Dear Reader, Welcome to the world of Asia—a flourishing continent with an impressive presence on the map and in the news. You may or may not already know a great deal about this seemingly far-flung region of emerging and established powers, but you perhaps by now realize the importance of attaining such knowledge. Every spring, therefore, this publication leads readers into the unknown depths and edges of Asia through a select few of the most insightful, interesting, and invaluable works that students here at the University of Pennsylvania have written. So it is with great pride and pleasure that we hereby present to you the fantastic fifth volume of Penn Asian Review. We are glad you have made the decision to pick up this publication. The wilderness must truly be explored, and this is one of your handy guidebooks. Within these pages, you will find an amazing array of articles that cover a vast range of topics related to Asia and her people, culture, and history. From a multifaceted analysis of Japanese American identity to a historical account of East Asian diplomacy and development, there is definitely much to discover and absorb. Rest assured a variety of unique experiences—that you, and only you, can savor and preserve through perusing—await you on the pages of this pamphlet. Before you embark on this trek of learning, we would like to mention that there were real people and organizations that pledged their time, fortune, and sacred honor to make it all possible and that they have gracefully succeeded. We thus extend our deepest gratitude to the reader for your continued love and support, to the authors for their insights and analysis, to each other for all our work and effort, and to the Center for East Asian Studies and the Student Activities Council for their sponsorship and financial assistance. With that, we salute you.

Business Managers Grace Song MyungJin Shin

“Live long and prosper.”

Sean Hamamoto Editor-in-Chief

Volume 5



Table of Contents East Asia

Southeast Asia

Yuki-Onna and the Ever Changing Notion of Monstrosity


Aliens: The Philippines, American Colonialism, and the Chinese


Women and Marriage in Contemporary China


The Asian Microcosm: East Asia’s Connectivity during Tumultous Times


To be Japanese American: An exploration of Japanese American identity across borders


Rona Ji

Anissa Tang

East Asia

East Asia

Joyce Lee LaVacca

Patrick Gadala-Maria East Asia

Mia Leyland

Penn Asian Review



Yuki-Onna and the Ever Changing Notion of Monstrosity Rona Ji Introduction Monsters, benign or otherwise, exist across all cultures and are present in various forms of cultural expression. Despite their prevalence, there is no universal definition for “monsters.” These creatures are easily relegated to the ranks of “other” and feared because they are incomprehensible. They are foreign, yet not completely inhuman. “Monstrosity” constantly shifts along the hazy, grey realm between the distinctly good and unequivocally evil of the world. Hence, while one person may view something as monstrous and wicked, another can just as easily see that same entity as merely peculiar. Over time, many interpretations of monstrosity have pervaded storytelling, which in turn have greatly influenced audiences’ perception of the beings in question. The varying presentations of the Japanese monster “Yuki-Onna,” or Snow Woman, in Lafcadio Hearn’s written accounts, in the traditional Japanese Kamogawa Odori geisha dance, as well in as the films Kwaidan (1964) and Dreams (1990), serve to further the concept that a single concept morphs depending on the preferences of the storyteller. A comparison of these works reveals that the differing emphases and stylistic choices chosen by the storytellers, ultimately present the Yuki-Onna in varying degrees of monstrosity to the audience.

Synopsis and Brief History of Yuki-Onna The Yuki-Onna is a breed of female Japanese yōkai (supernatural being or monster) that appears on snowy nights and feeds on the essence of her human prey after freezing them to death. According to Zach Davisson from Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, the Yuki-Onna folktale was first recorded between the years 1333-1573. Virtually every province of Japan has a Yuki-Onna folktale, leading to variations in the names used to identify her, the recountings of her monstrous habits and the fates of her victims. Some of her names include Yuki-Musume (Snow Daughter), Yuki-Onba

Image Source: The-Yuki-Onna-55978373

(Snow Nursing Mother), Yuki-Nyobo (Snow Wife), and Yuki-Anesa (Snow Older Sister).[1] Often portrayed as an eternally youthful woman with alabaster skin and jet black hair, the Yuki-Onna has also been depicted with a head of completely white hair. These differing accounts of what is perceived to be the same yōkai suggests that accounts of monsters are greatly affected by the culture and background of the story’s place of origin, and perhaps even by the experiences of the one recounting the tale.

Lafcadio Hearn’s Yuki-Onna The most well-known version of the Yuki-Onna story was published by international writer Patrick Lafcadio Hearn in his 1904 collection of translated Japanese folk stories titled Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. Hearn’s recounting of the Yuki-Onna folktale takes place in Musashi Province, where an old man named Mosaku takes his eighteen year old Volume 5



apprentice Minokichi to the forest every day to cut wood. One day, they are trapped in the forest during a blizzard after the ferryman leaves his boat on the other side of the river. The two find shelter in a dilapidated shed, but in the dead of the night, a beautiful woman dressed completely in white steals into the shed and kills Mosaku with her freezing breath. The Yuki-Onna paralyzes Minokichi with her magic and says to him that she will spare him on account of his youth, but that he must never utter a word of the proceedings to anyone else or she will find and kill him. Minokichi falls ill after he returns to the village, but does not reveal the Yuki-Onna’s existence to anyone. The following year, he meets a beautiful orphan girl named O-Yuki on the road who is travelling to Yedo to find work as a servant. He brings her home and eventually persuades her to stay as his wife. His mother is enamored of the new addition to the family, saying only good things about her thoughtful daughter-in-law before passing away. Even after she bears Minokichi ten children O-Yuki still retains her youthful appearance, much to the wonder of the entire village. One night, many years after their marriage, Minokichi inadvertently notices O-Yuki’s similarity in appearance to the Yuki-Onna from his memories while she is sewing beside the paper lamp and recounts the story to his wife. O-Yuki reveals in a spurt of anger that she is that same Yuki-Onna and that Minokichi has broken his promise. The Yuki-Onna spares Minokichi’s life on account of the sleeping children, warns him to take good care of them for the rest of his life on the threat of facing her wrath, and disappears without a trace, never to be seen again. It must be noted that Hearn was well-known as a sensationalist writer, and would often put his own spin on the stories he wrote, using his words –the only connection between a writer and his audience– to create vivid images for his readers. His grandson, Koizumi Toki, recounts that Hearn would tell his wife Setsu, who was his main source for folktales, that “you must have your own stories, your own words, your own thoughts.”[2] Hearn’s emphasis on presenting one’s “own thoughts” on a tale underscores the fluidity of storytelling as a mode of communication. Each time an author presents a tale, the narration may change, placing importance on different elements of the story. For example, the presenter’s own biases proliferate the Penn Asian Review

story, as he may choose to highlight certain traits in characters he deems more important. Another important consideration is that Hearn translated his wife’s words into his own; this allowed him an additional opportunity to interpret and manipulate characters to his liking. For instance, Hearn only touches briefly on the Yuki-Onna’s monstrous powers with his description of her “blowing her white breath upon [Mosaku],” describing her breath as “a bright white smoke.”[3] The terms “white breath” and “white smoke” seem rather innocuous. The image evoked by Hearn’s words is one of the Yuki-Onna peacefully blowing a fine white mist over Mosaku, as if easing him into slumber, rather than the bone-chilling gale one would expect from a yōkai that relies on her icy powers to kill. Furthermore, although we later learn that “Mosaku was stark and dead,” nowhere in the story is the Yuki-Onna stated to have sucked out the old man’s essence, as older folk tales would have it.[4] When Hearn describes O-Yuki as an “honorable daughter-in-law,” a wife worthy of “words of affection and praise” and a “wonderful person,” his words clearly paint the Yuki-Onna in a positive light.[5] Hearn’s descriptions humanize the Yuki-Onna, thereby allowing the audience to perceive her as less a monster and more a benevolent wife and mother. Illustrated here is the impact presentation has on the audience’s perceptions of the “monster,” particularly when connections to familiar human characteristics are made.

Yuki-Onna in Traditional Japanese Geisha Dance Theater At Kyoto’s annual Kamogawa Odori geisha dance performance, one of the acts presents a version of the Yuki-Onna folk tale. Interestingly, traditional geisha theater was designed to express a woman’s iroke, or “sensuality,” to the audience through dance and music.[6] In this particular dance, the story emphasizes monstrosity by illuminating the dangers of scorning a beautiful woman, as it presents the yōkai freezing a handsome fan maker who had spurned her advances. These performances of the Yuki-Onna tale differ from written and filmed accounts, as costume, movements and music play a larger role in the delivery of the story. The stage director dresses the Yuki-Onna completely in ghostly white, while the male performer is clothed in a vivid blue traditional kimono. Furthermore, the

Ji Yuki-Onna’s face is dusted with the white face powder typically associated with geishas, achieving a complexion that resembles the “[fairness] of skin” that Hearn’s Yuki-Onna possesses.[7] The strong stage lights create even more contrast between her black wig and white face, giving the dancer the appearance of a specter. This impression is enhanced by the dancer’s quick footsteps, which make her seem as if she is floating by the side of the dying fan maker, haunting him even after he has drawn his last breath. More importantly, this geisha performance is augmented by the lack of spoken word. This places the burden of conveying emotionpurely on the dancers’ movements and the accompanying music. The audience has no direct access to the reasons or logic behind the Yuki-Onna’s actions due to the lack of spoken dialogue between characters, and can judge the Yuki-Onna based on her actions alone. The music is sung with a strong vibrato and the melody, based on a pentatonic scale, employs heavy use of minor intervals, imbuing the piece with a wailing quality. A lone shamisen supports the singer, the sparse instrumentation creating an otherworldly atmosphere.[8] The combination of the geisha’s gestures, the surrounding sound and the eerie costume portrays the Yuki-Onna as an inhuman monster that kills out of spite, embodying many evils of human nature, such as jealousy, but none of the positive warmth.

Yuki-Onna in Kwaidan Similarly, cinematic experiences of the Yuki-Onna folktale are intensely visual and auditory, heavily reliant on the director’s choices for lighting, dialogue, and camera movement to mold characters. Director Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (1964) is an anthology horror film based on four stories from Hearn’s book of the same title. The second story of the film, titled “The Woman of the Snow,” is a forty minute account of Hearn’s version of the Yuki-Onna. Kobayashi’s film is closely modeled after Hearn’s translation, but the director’s artistic choices highlight certain aspects of the tale more than others, providing an alternative interpretation of the Yuki-Onna tale through film-specific storytelling techniques. Kobayashi’s team begins crafting the diegetic world[9] by using an establishing shot[10] to set the scene in uninhabited woods. A long shot then follows


the movements of Mosaku and Minokichi as they stumble along deep snow drifts. Kwaidan’s opening scene encapsulates Kobayashi’s own interpretation of the story’s setting, utilizing the lighting contrast between dark trees and white snow to visually enhance the feeling of doom that surrounds the two men’s trek through the woods. From the actors’ peasant kimonos, the audience knows that the story is set in a historical era, an aspect of the tale that remains implied in Hearn’s version. Later, when the Yuki-Onna freezes Mosaku, Kobayashi pairs eerie blue lights with an upward angled camera shot of her face, which together throw a wild light into the actress’ eyes and emphasizes the Snow Woman’s inhumanity. Furthermore, the blue light adds a dreamlike quality to the encounter, dovetailing nicely with Hearn’s account in which Minokichi wonders that “he might have been only dreaming” about his encounter with the Yuki-Onna.[11] The largest divergence Kobayashi takes from Hearn’s story is the number of children born to Minokichi and O-Yuki, which serves to humanize O-Yuki’s character in a manner that even Hearn’s positive word choice could not achieve. Childbirth has an enormous impact on a woman’s constitution and appearance and Kobayashi’s choice of portraying O-Yuki as the mother of three children rather than of ten makes O-Yuki’s retained youthfulness more believable. Although her youthful appearance is hinted at as being unusual in the film through the dialogue of several peasant women washing clothing by the riverside, it is not inconceivable. Thus, in comparison to Hearn’s retelling, Kobayashi succeeds in creating a presentation of the Yuki-Onna that is far more human. Once again, the preferences of the storyteller greatly influences the audience’s perception of monstrosity.

Yuki-Onna in Dreams On the other hand, Director Kurosawa Akira’s film, Dreams (1990), is an anthology of eight magical-realism stories “embodying various dreams Kurosawa has had since childhood.”[12] In this film, the appearance of the Yuki-Onna in the third story is less a reference to any specific folktale pertaining to the monster than an allusion to the yōkai in general. In contrast to Kobayashi’s Kwaidan, the segment titled “the Blizzard” in Kurosawa’s Dreams only possesses a cursory connection to Hearn’s Yuki-Onna. His presenVolume 5



tation of the Snow Woman is much more intense and monstrous. The strong ties that the stories in Dreams have to Kurosawa’s own experiences had a direct bearing on the representation of the Yuki-Onna monster in the film. Kurosawa’s choice for the mise-en-scène,[13] a massive blizzard engulfing lost and bone-weary mountaineers, evokes a sense of urgency in the audience by presenting the dire circumstances of the characters. The script utilizes a minimal amount of dialogue, most of which convey disagreement amongst the four nameless hikers, thereby heightening tension for the audience. Moreover, Kurosawa’s choice of dark, murky lighting to supplement the wildly flying snow imbues the film with a surreal feeling not dissimilar to the effect of the blue light in Kwaidan. However, the main difference between Dreams and the previous presentations of the Yuki-Onna story is that this time the Snow Woman is allotted significantly less screen time. She appears only in the last ten minutes of the segment, as opposed to throughout the entire story for Hearn’s version, the geisha performance, and Kobayashi’s Kwaidan. Kurosawa’s presentation of the Yuki-Onna is more phantom-like than the other accounts, and leaves no room for interpretation of the Yuki-Onna as resembling a human. Kurosawa’s Yuki-Onna possesses powers of suggestion and hallucination— she may even be an illusion conjured by the sluggish brain of the last mountaineer left standing. She hovers over the final survivor, urging him with pushes and quiet words into an eternal sleep. Her actions seem more evil to the audience, since Kurosawa’s chronological presentation of the team’s plight establishes that the man is trying to stay awake and alive after a long struggle against the blizzard. Moreover, during a soundless segment, Kurosawa’s pairing of relentless eye-line shots[14] between the man and the Yuki-Onna with over-theshoulder shots[15] underscores the man’s confusion and desperation. The purely visual medium strengthens the man’s image as a fighter and a survivor, and the Yuki-Onna as the final obstacle between him and success. Once the Yuki-Onna appears in the film, the sounds of the blizzard are muted; the silence is broken by her soft cooing of “the snow is warm” while wearing a demonic smile (Dreams). The Yuki-Onna’s words contrast sharply with her facial expression, the former seem comforting, while the latter clearly expresses her Penn Asian Review

intent to do harm to the mountaineers. The dissonance between the actress’ expressions and voice reflect her character’s intent to kill through deception, thereby firmly thrusting Kurosawa’s interpretation of the Yuki-Onna into the category of an inhuman monster. The scene later changes to what Kurosawa calls the “yuki onna henge,” a series of short shots revealing the Yuki-Onna’s transformation “from a beautiful and lovely woman to a murderous character.”[16] After watching these shots with the Yuki-Onna’s hair wildly flapping in the wind and her face twisting in an evil sneer as she realizes that she is unable to lure the last man into her clutches before the blizzard breaks, the audience has no question that she is a true monster without a human heart.

Conclusion Different mediums of presentation and variations among individual presentations lead to the emphasis of different aspects of character relationships in a story, especially in regards to interactions between monsters and humans. The decisions of an author or director mold the audiences’ perceptions of monsters, subconsciously encouraging viewers to interpret the degree of monstrosity presented. In some instances, it is possible to see the monster as more human, but in others, the monster is unequivocally evil. As we have seen, depending on the storyteller, even a well-known evil yōkai such as the Yuki-Onna may be presented in a more harmless manner. The perception of monstrosity, then, changes drastically with each new iteration of the tale. However, the storyteller’s absolute power in deciding how to create a character is not only limited to the Yuki-Onna tale, but is a common undercurrent in all forms of media. For example, certain newspapers are particularly notorious in their use of yellow journalism, exaggerating and manipulating facts to demonize many public figures. It remains important to consider that not all monsters are created equal; rather, their positions on the continuum between good and evil are heavily dependent on the biases and presentations of their storytellers.



Notes [1] Zach Davisson. “Yuki Onna – The Snow Woman,” Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, published December 18, 2013, accessed September 23, 2014, [2] Toki Koizumi, “Grandfather Lafcadio Hearn and I,” The Harp 6 (1990): 4. [3] Lafcadio Hearn, Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1968), 50. [4] Ibid. [5] Ibid., 52. [6] Yuko Eguchi, “Forbidden Sexuality: The Art of the Geisha” (presentation, SEM Conference at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburg, PA, November 20, 2011). [7] Lafcadio Hearn, Kwaidan, 52. [8] Gerald Groemer, “The Rise of ‘Japanese Music,’” The World of Music 46, no. 2 (2004): 15-16. [9] In cinema, the internal world created by the story [10] Film technique using a long camera shot to establish a scene, often to highlight setting [11] Lafcadio Hearn, Kwaidan, 50. [12] Zvika Serper, “Kurosawa’s ‘Dreams’: A Cinematic Reflection of Traditional Japanese Context,” Cinema Journal 40, no. 4 (2001): 81. [13] Arrangement of everything in the framing of a film, including actors, lighting, props, costume. [14] A sequence of two camera shots. The first one shot shows a character looking, the second allows audience to see what the character is looking at. [15] Camera angle allows audience to see from a character’s point of view, but includes part of the character’s head or shoulder in the screen. [16] Zvika Serper, “Kurosawa’s Dreams,” 96-97.

Image source: enlt255/kwaidan-2.html

Image source: commons/d/dc/Suuhi_Yuki-onna.jpg

Volume 5


Aliens: The Philippines

Aliens: The Philippines, American Colonialism, and the Chinese Anissa Tang The Chinese had been shuttling back and forth between China and the Philippines for many years before the arrival of Spaniards on Philippine soil, with some even settling in the Philippines.[1] During the Spanish era, the Chinese occupied a special position within the society and economy, serving as links between the “Western,” “native,” and “Chinese” markets. [2] Despite their essential function, the Chinese were perceived as threats to society, and were thus subject to discriminatory measures such as segregation and deportation.[3] However, during the latter years of Spanish colonization the treatment of the Chinese had improved considerably; the Chinese were given more freedoms and rights, and a new creole middle-class of Chinese mestizos emerged.[4] More and more Chinese arrived in the Philippines.[5] This slow integration was overturned by the arrival of the Americans.[6] In an effort to manifest “American colonialism” through the transformation of the Philippines, the new masters implemented various reforms and policies, some of which reflected “fundamental anti-Sinicism.”[7] Consequently, ethnic Chinese who had determined to stay needed to define their identities within the framework set up by American rule. [8] American governance placed the Chinese within the niche of commerce and manufacture, and encouraged their cultural isolation from the Filipinos, the effects of which are very visible today.[9] The identities and roles the Chinese Filipinos manifest in present-day Philippine society were set on course by American rule in the Philippines. More recent authors, Richard Chu and Andrew Wilson among them, suggest that there was a fluidity or carry-over of Chinese experience from under the Spanish rule to the American regime.[10] While adopting the stance of a complete disconnect is faulty, I believe that is it equally difficult to paint the entire population with that brush, as the movement of people was constant – the Chinese immigrants entered the Philippines at discrete points in time, therefore forming distinct personal experiences.[11] Penn Asian Review

Nearing the end of Spanish rule, the Chinese in the Philippines seemed to have overcome great adversity. After being the victims of segregation, mass expulsions and purges throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Chinese were finally being accepted into Philippine society on more even terms.[12] The Spanish had begun instituting reforms promoting Chinese immigration beginning in the 1830s, attracting more Chinese to the Philippines. [13] Edgar Wickberg supplies some figures that show an increase of over 12,300 people from 1847 to 1864, and census data shows that the Chinese numbered over 100,000 by the 1890s.[14] However, it must be noted that there was a continuous flow of people to and from the Chinese mainland during this time. Antonio Tan writes that while large numbers were arriving in the Philippines, almost fourfifths had returned to China by 1898.[15] Once in the Philippines, the Chinese were expected to “stimulate” Philippine agriculture by mixing with the native Filipinos, but very few stayed in agriculture.[16] During the late 19th century, most Chinese could be found in export, retail, “monopoly contracting,” and labor, or the procurement thereof. [17] The Spanish encouraged Chinese assimilation into the Filipino body, and prompted the creation and rise of the elite Chinese mestizo class, who increasingly identified as Filipino rather than Chinese.[18] It was also during the Spanish period that the beginnings of the Chinese community organizations emerged. Rudimentary hierarchies were constructed around organizations, and an elected gobernadorcillo exercised the roles of “judge, tax collector and communication link between the Spanish and the Chinese,” and wielded authority over “tens of thousands in Manila, not to mention the tens of thousands in the provinces.” [19] The Chinese community, while a well-defined entity within society, was “far from insular,” having to deal with other groups on a regular basis.[20]

Tang It must be noted that before the outbreak of the Spanish-American War the overall attitude toward the immigrant Chinese had soured.[21] Some authors have noted the concurrence of this sentiment with the growing influence of anti-Sinicism in the western world in the 1880s.[22] Faced with growing resistance, the Chinese appealed for defense in the form of a consulate, which was finally granted in 1898 by a Spanish government desperate to shore up support. [23] The ensuing “overall chaos” during the Philippine revolution saw the Chinese siding with the native forces, voluntarily or otherwise.[24] Acts of violence and extortion against the Chinese were commonplace during this period, as they held many of the supplies and financing that the revolutionaries needed.[25] However, latent anti-Sinicism does not seem to be the rule in the persecution of the Chinese; in fact, the Filipinos welcomed the Chinese into their ranks if the latter chose to participate, as with the example of Hou A-p’ao, also known as Jose Ignacio Paua, a general in the revolutionary army.[26] Regardless of the cooperation between the Filipinos and Chinese in this period, the disruptions of the economy and the prevailing lawlessness prompted many Chinese businesses to fail; as a result, more than half of the Chinese population left for China, and the systems and networks that the Chinese had built were destroyed.[27] At first glance, American rule did not bring much change to the table; as Chu and Wilson note, no direct moves to change the structures were created to deal with the Chinese or the social organization of the Chinese community.[28] The consul general was given the role that the gobernadorcillo used to occupy, and the Chinese organizations of the Spanish era carried over. The discrimination that the Chinese had dealt with was still present under the new colonial masters, and the Chinese were still expected to serve an economic, rather than political, function. However, on closer examination, the Americans fundamentally altered Philippine society and therefore the experience of the Philippine Chinese. The American military government under General Elwell Otis extended the Chinese Exclusion Act to the Philippines on September 26, 1898, even before the Philippines was officially annexed.[ 29] Subsequently known as the “Otis Order,” the temporary


provision aimed to curtail the observed “considerable Chinese influx into [Manila]” and the associated rise of “warring factions” and “race prejudice.”[30] The first and second Philippine Commissions both supported the extension of the laws, and exclusion was made official in 1903 under the slogan “The Philippines for the Filipinos.”[31] Some reasons along racial and economic lines were provided, but perhaps most salient for the governing body was the fear that the Chinese would “spread themselves over the country” or worse, to America.[32] The exclusion laws shaped the Chinese community in the Philippines. Wong writes that the relatively small number of Chinese in the Philippines today was directly caused by the legislation.[33] The exclusion applied to all the Chinese as per the American version of the law, holding “officials, teachers, students, merchants, diplomats and travelers” exempt upon production of an American-issued “certificate,” which was basically a visa for entry.[34] The families of resident merchants were also allowed to migrate. [35] Regulations surrounding travel documentation, such as the requirements of proofs of residency, re-entry permits, as well as proof of capital ($200), severely bogged down the fluid movement between China and the Philippines.[36] The act did seem to curtail the influx of Chinese into the islands, with the census of 1903 confirming an increase of only 2.5% since implementation in 1898, but as several authors note, census figures do not account for illegal immigrants.[37] Anthropologist John Omohundro’s observation regarding the limited regional backgrounds of immigrants to Iloilo City can be explained by the Chinese community’s newfound reliance on “familial migration networks” based on the qiaoxiang or “native-place.”[38] The family clause of the exclusion act was exploited in full, because the “children” migrating to the Philippines often only shared hometowns with their merchant benefactors.[39] Many took on apprenticeships or employment with their sponsors, resulting in a closer-knit network between established Chinese merchants and newer immigrants.[40] Wilson makes the point that many immigrants began trending towards longterm residency during the American period. [41] It is possible that this was due to the increased restrictions on mobility, but more likely because conditions in the Philippines were prime for business and settling down. Volume 5


Aliens: The Philippines

As many immigrants came as children or teenagers between the ages of 12 and 16, it is highly likely that they formed stronger connections to the communities in the Philippines than to the ones they left behind in China, and thus had less incentive to leave.[42] Exclusion was evidently ineffective in keeping the Chinese at bay, with their numbers reaching 110,500 in 1935.[43] Part of this could be attributed to the slack implementation of the law by immigration officials in the Philippines. Irene Jensen writes that “it was felt that conditions in the Philippines did not demand the rigid enforcement of the exclusion laws… [as in] the United States.”[44] The American administration seemed to vacillate between the perceived dichotomy of Chinese foreign labor and Filipino native labor.[45] Much of this stemmed from their racial views of both groups. Surprisingly, the Chinese were viewed as a positive influence on the Filipinos, as the former were “frugal [and] industrious” where the latter were “indolent and … [having] a propensity to gamble.”[46] Instead of implementing the Chinese exclusion act as they had back home, it appears that the Americans encouraged Chinese involvement in other more capital-intensive sectors, and relegating Filipinos to “manual labor.”[47] The imposition of these American racial stereotypes onto Philippine society would become points of resentment between the Chinese and the Filipinos.[48] Thus, it can be assumed that America was using its policies to a “divide-and-conquer” effect. [49] Authors Tan and Jensen describe the American period as a golden age for the Chinese in the Philippines, praising American intervention in the development of the Philippine economy.[50] While it is best to view their wholly positive reviews of the American era with caution, the Americans did bring much needed reforms with them, such as the institution of a unified Philippine currency[51] The American era ushered in an unprecedented boom in the Philippine economy, especially with free trade between the Philippines and the United States beginning in 1909 with the Payne-Aldrich Act.[52] The Chinese were now allowed to move around the country freely, and many entered other industries like finance, manufacturing, retail and services.[53] Chinese capital was increasingly reinvested in the Philippines in “commerce-related activiPenn Asian Review

ties” instead of being sent back to China, constituting about 218.3 million pesos by 1932 and a fourth of total investments by the 1950s.[54] This increased visibility led to later claims by the Philippine government that the economy was being dominated by the Chinese; however, no such “stranglehold” existed; in fact, the Filipinos dominated the retail industry, owning 61.1% of total assets.[55] While the Chinese were highly represented in the commercial sectors, they were completely uninvolved in others.[56] Mining, for example, was reserved for “the citizens of the United States, or of said Islands” through the 1902 Organic Act.[57] Agriculture was also sealed off, primarily because the Organic Act was set up to benefit the landed mestizo class, who proceeded to amass previously friar-owned land.[58] The 1903 Homestead Act entitled Filipino citizens to their own portion of “public land” in an effort to “preserve the rich natural resources of the Philippines for the Filipinos.”[59] Chinese merchants were barred from investing in interisland shipping and transportation with the 1924 Coastwise Shipping Act; the act went unprotested mainly because the Chinese had little involvement in the industry to begin with.[60] Yet another restriction passed in 1930, where the availability of licenses to “exploit forest resources” was limited to only Filipino and American citizens.[61] To this day, the Chinese have not made large headway into these fields. These laws were precedents to the economic nationalization movements that would come with the Commonwealth and Philippine governments. Pronounced economic division from the Filipinos was not the only development brought about by American rule; rising Filipino and Chinese nationalisms matched each other and served to further separate the groups.[62] The motto “The Philippines for the Filipinos,” the legislation surrounding citizenship, and the allowance for the creation of a Philippine legislature under American rule all helped create a solid sense of a Filipino identity.[63] The Filipinos were “imbued with the idea of developing the islands [themselves]” and resented the Chinese prominence in the Philippine economy.[64] Discriminatory laws saw the Filipino-led legislature flexing its authority over the Chinese minority.[65] The 1921 Bookkeeping Act required all merchants to keep records “in English,



Spanish, or a native language,” specifically disadvantaging Chinese merchants.[66] This act was later ruled unconstitutional by the American Supreme Court, but only after five years of appeal by the Chinese community.[67] This was followed by other economic nationalization laws, like the previously-mentioned Coastwise Shipping Act.

selves as people belonging to a larger group, and it is unsurprising that many chose Chinese citizenship, if only nominally.[75] Chu notes that Philippine Chinese “nationalism” was contingent on the situation in China, demonstrating that they were not overly indebted to the mainland.[76] Wong Kwok-Chu contends that another type of identity arose during this period, which he dubs as “local-Chinese-community-orient Citizenship laws also exacerbated the Filipied,” and I feel that this more appropriately describes no-Chinese divide by making intermarriage undesirthe attitude of the Chinese in the Philippines.[77] The able. While no outright marriage bans were passed, Fil- Chinese community aimed to preserve its cultural disipinos who married non-citizen Chinese had to forfeit tinction from the rest of Philippine society, no doubt their Filipino citizenships, thus becoming “aliens” as due to the long-standing presupposition that Chinese well.[68] The children of such unions were also consid- culture was superior to that of other peoples.[78] ered “aliens” until a 1917 revision of the citizenship law To do so, several establishments sprung up: Chinese recognized their Filipino citizenship under the prinschools taught Chinese culture and language, Chinese ciple of jus soli.[69] Chu believes that the American newspapers disseminated information and opinions “aversion to… miscegenation” spurred these regulaacross the community, and Chinese organizations tions.[70] Marriage within the Chinese community be- took leading roles in dealing with external pressures. came more common in the 1930s, concurrent with the [79] All of these still play important roles in today’s idea that marriage to a Filipino came to be perceived Chinese community, albeit with less clout as they did as “a threat to the existence of the Chinese communibefore. These mechanisms served not to glorify China, ty by racial dilution and acculturation.”[71] Prior to but rather to “protect” the Philippine-Chinese commuAmerican rule, friction between the two groups was nity. It is worth noting, however, that there was never almost entirely economically or culturally motivated, a complete severing of relationships from Philippine but now, race entered the picture as well.[72] Naturalsociety at large.[80] Neither was there total harmony ization laws would not apply to the Chinese until 1935, within the Chinese community; economic diversifiand even then were worded to make the Chinese either cation under American rule undermined centralized ineligible for or undesiring of citizenship, by discourauthority, and led to infighting and schisms within the aging certain Chinese cultural practices. Polygamy community.[81] was a “status symbol” for wealthy Chinese, but having multiple wives disqualified one from naturalization. The exclusion act skewed the sociopolitical Other requirements included: “able to speak and write balance against the Chinese.[82] The act played a role English or Spanish and any one of the Philippine in criminalizing the entry of the Chinese, thus creating languages,” “own real estate in the Philippines worth the “problem of overstaying Chinese” that became an at least 5 thousand pesos, or have a lucrative business issue in the post-colonial Philippines.[83] The Chinese, or profession,” “have enrolled his minor children in… under the law, were aliens ineligible for Filipino citischools… where Philippine history and other subjects zenship, just as they were ineligible for citizenship in [are] taught,” and “not isolated from mingling with America, and were perceived as “the antithesis of the other Filipinos and learning their ways.”[73] EvidentFilipino… [an] alien “other.””[84] The split between ly, the legislation surrounding naturalization existed the Filipinos and the Chinese that American rule mainly to deter Chinese from pursuing citizenship. had cultivated only grew wider after the cessation of American involvement. After the Americans left, the Because of these restrictions, many Chinese Chinese were left defenseless against laws and strucopted to affiliate themselves with China instead. In tures the Philippine government implemented in the 1909, the Chinese government began offering citizenspirit of the “Philippines for the Filipinos” slogan, or ships to its overseas communities.[74] The Philippine from a more pessimistic perspective, in resentment Chinese were offered the opportunity to define themcaused by Chinese “dominance.”[85] In 1935, jus soli Volume 5


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was abandoned in favor of jus sanguinis, thus revoking the citizenships of the children born to Chinese immigrants after 1935, unless born to a Filipino mother. [86] Moreover, the Commonwealth limited the use of the Philippines’ natural resources were to its citizens; in 1947, this would be amended to include the Americans, but not the Chinese.[87] The government began setting up state-owned corporations to compete with Chinese enterprise and reclaim the industries for the Filipinos if possible.[88] The hotly contested Retail Trade Nationalization Law of 1954 and subsequent economic nationalization projects, like the Filipino First movement, served to remove the “alien” involvement in the Philippine economy; however, Hau notes that the laws were specifically directed at curbing Chinese participation, as the Americans were deemed exempt from the restrictions.[89] Citizenship was the cornerstone upon which all these laws were built, something that was only available to the Chinese with great monetary and cultural cost.[90] Ironically, it was only under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos that naturalization rights were granted to all “aliens” en masse, for the purpose of “integrat[ing]… permanently residing aliens who have… contributed to the economic, social and cultural development of [the] country.”[91] Today, the position of the Chinese in Philippine society has stabilized and has become much more integrated with the majority. They are visible not only as merchants, but also as politicians, actors, and many other occupations aside.[92] Most Chinese born in the Philippines identify as “Chinese Filipino” or “tsinoy” and distinguish themselves from new Chinese immigrants.[93] The economy has also become more integrated horizontally, with Chinese working with Filipinos at each level. However, this experience is still marred by the stereotypes created during the American era. The associations of the Chinese with money and indefensible alien status make them “perfect victim[s]” for kidnappers.[94] These associations only took root during the American period, when the Chinese were encouraged to prosper economically against a backdrop of discriminatory rulings. That today’s “Chinese Filipinos” choose to distance themselves from the image of the “alien” immigrant Chinese is also a byproduct of the distrust instilled in society by exclusion laws. While views on intermarriage have relaxed, many Chinese parents still prefer Chinese Penn Asian Review

sons- or daughters-in-law, a product of the American “divide-and-conquer” system that separated the Filipinos and Chinese culturally. American colonial rule, with its emphasis on creating difference within Philippine society, was an important forge for the Chinese Filipino identity.[95]

Notes [1] Antonio S. Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 1898-1935: A Study of Their National Awakening (Quezon City, Philippines: Printed by R.P. Garcia Pub. Co., 1972), 15–18. [2] Edgar. Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 1850-1898 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), 6. [3] Ibid., 11. [4] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 58–65; Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 24, 237; Richard T. Chu, Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila: Family, Identity, and Culture, 1860s-1930s (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2010), 74, ej.9789004173392.i-452. [5] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 66; Andrew R. Wilson, Ambition and Identity: Chinese Merchant Elites in Colonial Manila, 1880-1916 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004), 55. [6] Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 61; Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 123. [7] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 303; Daniel J. P. Wertz, “Idealism, Imperialism, and Internationalism: Opium Politics in the Colonial Philippines, 1898-1925,” Modern Asian Studies 47, no. 2 (2013): 476. [8] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 369. [9] Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 304; Gregorio F. Zaide, “Contribution of Aliens to the Philippine Economy,” in Chinese Participation in Philippine Culture and Economy, ed. Shubert S. C. Liao (Manila: Bookman, 1964), 163. [10] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 12; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 23, 26, 228. [11] Kwok-Chu. Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941 (Quezon City: Ateneo De Manila University Press, 1999), 12. [12] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 75; D. Stanley Eitzen, “Two Minorities: The Jews

Tang of Poland and the Chinese of the Philippines,” in Philippine-Chinese Profile: Essays and Studies, ed. Charles J. McCarthy (Manila: Pagkakaisa Sa Pag-unlad, Inc., 1974), 110–111. [13] Shubert S. C. Liao, “How the Chinese Lived in the Philippines from 1570 to 1898,” in Chinese Participation in Philippine Culture and Economy, ed. Shubert S. C. Liao (Manila: Bookman, 1964), 27, 31; Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 53, 56. [14] Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 61, 67. [15] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 34–35. [16] Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 51, 55. [17] Ibid., 94–119. [18] Ibid., 17–20; Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 215. [19] Theresa C. Cariño, Chinese Big Business in the Philippines: Political Leadership and Change (Singapore: Times Academic Press, 1998), 17; Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 18, 84. [20] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 65; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 23, 78–79. [21] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 61; Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 147–153; Eitzen, “Two Minorities,” 112. [22] Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 151; Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 75. [23] Cariño, Chinese Big Business in the Philippines, 19; Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 232–233. [24] Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 159. [25] Ibid., 121–122. [26] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 84–87; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 122, 158–160. [27] Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 123; Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 67, 87. [28] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 304; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 142. [29] Irene Jensen, The Chinese in the Philippines during the American Regime, 1898-1946 (San Francisco: R and E Research Associates, 1975), 44. [30] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 28. [31] Ibid., 28–29; Jensen, The Chinese in the Philippines, 53. [32] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 282–288; Jensen, The Chinese in the Philippines, 51.


[33] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 14–15. [34] Jensen, The Chinese in the Philippines, 44. [35] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 29. [36] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 99; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 149. [37] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 291–292; Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 15; Jensen, The Chinese in the Philippines, 73–76. [38] John T. Omohundro, Chinese Merchant Families in Iloilo = [Shang Chia]: Commerce and Kin in a Central Philippine City (Quezon City, Metro Manila; Ahens, Ohio: Ateneo de Manila University Press ; Ohio University Press, 1981), 43; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 147–149. [39] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 293. [40] Omohundro, Chinese Merchant Families in Iloilo = [Shang Chia], 22–23. [41] Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 150–151. [42] Omohundro, Chinese Merchant Families in Iloilo = [Shang Chia], 22. [43] Jensen, The Chinese in the Philippines, 77. [44] Ibid., 67. [45] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 285. [46] Russell M’Culloch Story, “The Problem of the Chinese in the Philippines,” The American Political Science Review 3, no. 1 (February 1, 1909): 40–41, doi:10.2307/1945907. [47] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 304; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 150. [48] Teodoro M. Locsin, “Race Prejudice - the Chinese Question,” in Chinese Participation in Philippine Culture and Economy, ed. Shubert S. C. Liao (Manila: Bookman, 1964), 260, 264. [49] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 304; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 148. [50] Jensen, The Chinese in the Philippines, 25; Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 7–8. [51] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 33. [52] Ibid., 50. [53] Caroline S. Hau, The Chinese question: ethnicity, nation, and region in and beyond the Philippines, 2014, 71 – 72; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 151. Volume 5


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[54] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 74; Shubert S. C. Liao, “Investment, Employment in Chinese Enterprises and the Economic Development of the Philippines,” in Chinese Participation in Philippine Culture and Economy, ed. Shubert S. C. Liao (Manila: Bookman, 1964), 229. [55] Robert Tsai, “Citizenship Issue and the National Economy,” in Philippine-Chinese Profile: Essays and Studies, ed. Charles J. McCarthy (Manila: Pagkakaisa Sa Pag-unlad, Inc., 1974), 132–133. [56] Charles J. McCarthy, “The Chinese in the Philippines,” in Philippine-Chinese Profile: Essays and Studies (Manila: Pagkakaisa Sa Pag-unlad, Inc., 1974), 27. [57] The Philippine Organic Act of 1902, 1902, http:// [58] Eva-Lotta E. Hedman and John Thayer Sidel, Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century Colonial Legacies, Post-Colonial Trajectories (London: Routledge, 2000), 72; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 148. [59] Zaide, “Contribution of Aliens to the Philippine Economy,” 163. [60] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 85–87. [61] Ibid., 103. [62] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 281. [63] Ibid., 322. [64] Story, “The Problem of the Chinese in the Philippines,” 43. [65] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 84–87. [66] Ibid., 84. [67] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 196. [68] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 333–335. [69] Ibid., 290, 305. [70] Ibid., 332. [71] Ibid., 336. [72] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 61, 304. [73] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 291. [74] Ibid., 316–318. [75] Ibid., 316. [76] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 317. [77] Ibid., 80. Penn Asian Review

[78] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 317. [79] Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 134, 166– 167, 175. [80] Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 78. [81] Ibid., 192. [82] Ibid., 148. [83] Eufronio M. Alip, “Filipinos Ponder on the Chinese Problem,” in Chinese Participation in Philippine Culture and Economy, ed. Shubert S. C. Liao (Manila: Bookman, 1964), 251–252; A. V. H. Hartendorp, “The Overstaying Chinese Problem,” in Chinese Participation in Philippine Culture and Economy, ed. Shubert S. C. Liao (Manila: Bookman, 1964), 268; Pagkakaisa sa Pag-Unlad Research Staff, “The Case against Jus Soli,” in Philippine-Chinese Profile: Essays and Studies (Manila: Pagkakaisa Sa Pag-unlad, Inc., 1974), 226. [84] Chu, The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, 290; Wilson, Ambition and Identity, 148. [85] Joseph P. L. Liang, “The Chinese and the Philippine Political Process,” in Philippine-Chinese Profile: Essays and Studies, ed. Charles J. McCarthy (Manila: Pagkakaisa Sa Pag-unlad, Inc., 1974), 106. [86] Hau, The Chinese question, 32; Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 105–106. [87] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 106; Zaide, “Contribution of Aliens to the Philippine Economy,” 163. [88] Wong, The Chinese in the Philippine Economy, 1898-1941, 108–109; Liang, “The Chinese and the Philippine Political Process,” 105. [89] Hau, The Chinese question, 30–31; K. H. Hwang, “The ‘Filipino First’ Policy as I See It,” in Chinese Participation in Philippine Culture and Economy, ed. Shubert S. C. Liao (Manila: Bookman, 1964). [90] Hau, The Chinese question, 97. [91] Ibid., 96. [92] Ibid., 3; Pak Nung. Wong, Post-Colonial Statecraft in South East Asia: Sovereignty, State Building and the Chinese in the Philippines (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2013), 196–198. [93] Hau, The Chinese question, 13. [94] Ibid., 155. [95] Jensen, The Chinese in the Philippines, 25; Tan, The Chinese in the Philippines, 7–8.



Women and Marriage in Contemporary China Joyce Lee LaVacca Ten Commandments of Marriage

Image source:

The mother of a young woman in China recently posted the above list of demands online for any man who wished to marry her daughter.[1] The mother-in-law’s post tells us a great deal about contemporary marital culture in China. Her demands encompass considerations of economics, traditional marital customs, and the social issues of the day. This article will explore how today’s social norms regarding marriage and the lives of young couples are contemporary adaptations of China’s traditional patriarchal social customs.

The Marital Home One of the first things any newly engaged modern couple must decide is where they will live. The key word in the previous sentence is modern. The purpose of traditional marriage was to produce heirs for the bridegroom’s family. The woman left her home to join her new husband’s family in the paternal home. In traditional China, the bridegroom would send a

1. The Bridegroom must have an apartment no smaller than 100 square meters. 2. He must own a car worth at least 200,000 yuan. 3. He must make a 100,000 yuan cash deposit in the bride’s individual bank account. 4. He will hire a maid when his wife gives birth. 5. He must have a grand wedding. 6. He will buy only imported formula for the baby. 7. All of the husband’s salary shall be handed over to his wife. 8. All holidays shall be spent visiting her parents, not his. 9. The husband shall plan at least one vacation per year. 10. Last, but not least, he must be loyal to his wife. chaise for the bride on the wedding day to bring her to his residence—her new home. The Chinese Communist Party abolished private property, but as part of the open door policy and great economic reforms begun in 1978, home ownership was reestablished.[2] Hence the mother-in-law’s Commandment One, requiring the bridegroom to own an apartment for his bride to live in, is a modern rendition of the traditional Chinese practice designating the husband as the home-provider. Most homes in China are titled in the husband’s name only, despite the fact that husbands and wives generally contribute to the down-payment and mortgage payments together.[3] Titling the family home in the man’s name alone is a vestige of Chinese patriarchal tradition, just as in the West the man’s name is entered first on the property deed. When the Communists came to power, overcoming male-female inequity was a revolutionary goal. The Marriage Law of 1950 expanded the rights of women as brides, Volume 5


Women and Marriage in Contemporary China

wives, and daughters-in-law.[4] Under this law, even if a woman did not have her name on the property title or contribute financially during the marriage, she was entitled to half of the marital home in a divorce settlement on the basis of her uncompensated labor in maintaining the family, raising children, and caring for the elderly.[5] The allowance of the profit motive changed everything in China, including the property rights of married women. Concerned that women were divorcing men to cash in on the skyrocketing real estate market and determined to stop this, the People’s Supreme Court issued a new opinion interpreting the Marriage Law of 2011, finding that in divorce, marital property is to be divided based upon the name on the property deed.[6] This has been popularly described on Weibo as “the law that makes men laugh and women cry.”[7] Chinese women have effectively been shut out of the largest accumulation of real estate wealth in history, about 3.3 times China’s GDP, worth over $17 trillion in 2012 according the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Company.[8] In essence, recent political trends have mirrored a slide back into traditional patriarchal interpretations of home ownership. The mother-inlaw would be wise to amend Commandment One to require that both the husband’s and wife’s name appear on the property title for the marital home.

Surplus Men Under the one-child policy implemented in 1979, many Chinese parents have chosen male children. Beginning in the mid-1990’s, China began experiencing the social phenomena of too many young men of marriageable age compared with the number of available young women. Between 1988 and 2004, China’s abnormal sex ratios implied a tripling of surplus men and there are now millions of young men with no prospects of ever getting married.[9] China is now facing the social consequences of these surplus men. The mother-in-law’s Commandment Two, that the bridegroom owns a car before he marries her daughter and Commandment Three, that the bridegroom deposits 100,000 yuan cash into her daughter’s bank account, are examples of a phenomenon known as “bride price.” Bride price is money or goods paid Penn Asian Review

to the bride’s parents by the bridegroom so he may marry their daughter. The practice was banned after the Communists took power, but the phenomenon has reemerged as an economic result of a shortage of females.[10] The mother-in-law in this instance, by demanding benefits for her daughter rather than for herself, has put a contemporary child-centric focus on the traditional Chinese bride price. The mother-in-law here is demanding a steep bride price, expecting the bridegroom to own a home, a car, and have an additional 100,000 yuan to deposit into her daughter’s bank account. In China paying the bride price is mandatory, and it has a deleterious effect on men. If a man is not wealthy, the potential bridegroom and his family would have to earn the bride price. They many scrimp and save for decades, take out a loan and go deeply into debt, or even commit crimes to obtain the bride price.[11] A lack of funds to pay the bride price is the single biggest reason that individual men are unable to marry today in China.[12] Most men in China are not wealthy enough to pay the skyhigh bride prices demanded by the small number of available brides. The extreme male to female gender ratio in China has even caused the marriage market to become a lucrative business for criminals. Abnormal male sex ratios have been found by statistical researchers to account for a one-seventh rise in violent and property crime in China.[13] Official crime statistics in China report that from 1978 to 1999 grand larceny increased 9042%, robbery increased 2722%, assaults increased 491%, homicides increased 253% and reported rapes increased 131%.[14] The increase of crime in China has caused social discord. Women are afraid to be out alone at night and career women are afraid to travel unaccompanied on business.[15] Even in death women are stalked, as their bodies are stolen and used as corpse brides for dead bachelors in ghost weddings. Ghost Weddings are a Chinese tradition dating back more than 3,000 years. Families believe that burying an unmarried male with a corpse bride can prevent his soul from becoming restless and lonely. In its original form, families of children who died too young to marry often consented to a ghost wedding of their children.[16] The Communists denounced

LaVacca ghost marriages as feudal superstition and outlawed the practice, but with the modern Chinese bachelor surplus the tradition has returned with a vengeance. Black market corpses are purchased through marriage brokers, hospital mortuaries, funeral parlors, grave robbers, and murderers, with the most valuable corpses being “wet” (recently deceased).[17] Since the sexual imbalance has caused a shortage of female corpses as well, many brokers commit murder to obtain ghost brides.[18] Particularly vulnerable to being murdered for use as corpse brides are women in the countryside with mental disorders who are often roaming alone outside their homes.[19] Analyzing the marriage market demonstrates how the drive for male heirs has destabilized Chinese society.

Saving “Face” The mother-in-law’s demand in Commandment Five for a grand wedding is not unusual in China. Weddings are important events in both traditional and contemporary Chinese culture. Essentially, the mother-in-law’s demand in Commandment Five for a grand wedding is in the face-saving spirit of Chinese culture.[20] The bridegroom has customarily paid for the wedding in China since traditional times. Like Western weddings, Chinese weddings have become grander and more expensive in recent years, and can be seen as a reflection of economic status.


Chinese women, particularly those from affluent families, choose to feed their children. The scope of this public health crisis was magnified by the Chinese preference for formula feeding their infants rather than breastfeeding their babies. Breastfeeding was a traditional practice that was discarded as China modernized. Unlike in the West, however, breastfeeding has not made a resurgence in China. The same social factors which compel Western women to choose breastfeeding have the opposite effect on Chinese women. In China, baby formula use is associated with a high socio-economic position of the couple, as well as with high levels of education of the parents and of the grandmothers.[25] Paradoxically, it is also a generally accepted fact in China that baby formula is often not safe. The mother-in-law’s solution is to encourage purchasing imported baby formula rather than encouraging breastfeeding. This is reflective of contemporary Chinese culture. It seems that the profit motive and the patriarchal nature of Chinese society have worked together to devalue the practice of breastfeeding so that it is not seen as a reasonable alternative to Chinese women.

Current Chinese business law allows for the aggressive marketing of baby formula, including permitting wildly unsubstantiated health claims of formula’s superiority over breast-milk.[26] These phony marketing claims have worked. Baby formula is seen by most Chinese to be more nutritious than breastBreastfeeding milk.[27] Women cannot even turn to their medical providers for unbiased and science-based answers The mother-in-law’s Sixth Commandment reflects contemporary Chinese concern about food adul- regarding breastfeeding. Chinese maternity medical professionals are not only untrained and unskilled teration with her demand that the bridegroom “buy regarding breastfeeding; they are also openly hostile to only imported formula for the baby.” In 2004, at least it.[28] The negative attitude of medical professionals thirteen Chinese infants died after being fed countertoward breastfeeding mirrors Chinese society. Chinese feit infant formula.[21] Four years later 51,900 babies women are embarrassed to be seen breastfeeding both were hospitalized with kidney stones and at least six in public and at home and to see a women breastfeeddied.[22] Subsequent investigation revealed a deadly ing is considered inappropriate by Chinese.[29] Since food adulteration scheme where baby formula was dinewborn babies need to be fed up to twelve times a luted with water to increase its volume and melamine was added to trick quality control tests measuring pro- day, a woman breastfeeding in China today would be tein levels.[23] Following a popular outcry, the Chinese effectively trapped in her bedroom with the door shut. government conducted a nation-wide health screening She would not be enjoying a modern life. By socially stigmatizing breastfeeding mothers, Chinese society of babies and 294,000 children were found to have melamine-induced urolithiasis.[24] China’s expanding has effectively devalued a woman’s natural contribution issues of food security has altered the way that modern to her child. Volume 5


Women and Marriage in Contemporary China

Thus in Commandment Six by not even considering breastfeeding as an alternative equal to imported baby formula, the mother-in-law mirrors contemporary Chinese society in failing to respect and recognize the value of something only a woman can do, breastfeed her child.

Filial Piety The mother-in-law’s Commandment Nine, that the couple spends all of their holidays with her, is a modern twist on the traditional Chinese concept of filial piety. In traditional China, married women abandoned their own parents and devoted all their attention to their husband’s parents. Filial piety has always included the social requirement of attending family holiday gatherings, as well as the economic requirement of caring for parents in old age. This is the Chinese pension system—parents invest all of their money in their child for the expected return of being taken care of when they are old. Today, this often includes contributing a hefty amount toward a down payment on a marital home. The rapidly rising divorce rate, as well as the increasing price of homes in China, has made this parental financial contribution to the marital home a key issue in property distribution in divorce. A recent decision by the Supreme People’s Court interpreting the Marriage Law of 2001 ruled that when dividing marital property in divorce, lower courts must consider claims of parents to the couple’s assets.[30] In the case before it, the court granted to the husband’s parents a superior property claim to the marital home over the wife because a cash wedding gift from the husband’s parents was used toward the down payment on the home.[31] The court reasoned that because Chinese parents invest most of their money in their children, parents must be able to recoup their investment in their child’s marriage if there is a divorce.[32] Men and their families who have paid a bride price consider this is a fair decision. It is also another significant downgrade in both the legal and social status of married women in China. This decision by the People’s Supreme Court effectively reduces the position of almost every married woman in China from a partner with her husband in Penn Asian Review

the marital home to a tenant of her landlord husband and his landlord parents. It is a complete reversal of the enhanced legal position of wives in socialist China and a reemergence of the feudal role of wives as subordinate to their husbands and to their husband’s parents.

Concubines The mother-in-law’s Commandment Ten, that the bridegroom will remain loyal to his wife, is built from changing social conceptions in modern society. In traditional Chinese society, men routinely took concubines. The Communists condemned the concubine system as one of the sins of feudal society, outlawing it in the Marriage Act of 1950. Since China’s market reforms, men in economically developed areas have effectively resurrected the practice, albeit under a different name. “Second wife” is the widely-used term in contemporary China for a woman in a long-term relationship with a married man.[33] Contemporary Chinese men gain “face” in business circles when they appear publicly with their second wives, exuding economic power, class privilege, virility, and sexual desirability.[34] Few statistics exist, but scholars report that extra-marital affairs are growing at a similar rate as China’ economy and women complain that Chinese men believe having an affair is their right as a man. [35] China’s top prosecutor has reported that 90% of provincial-level or mid-level officials found guilty of corruption were having extra-marital affairs.[36] The problem of modern concubines was publicly debated during the writing of the Marriage Law of 2001. Feminists in China pushed to make the taking of a modern-day “concubine” a criminal offense, but the Party decided that marital law was essentially civil in nature. “Second wives” are therefore considered extra-marital affairs under the Marriage Law, and are grounds for divorce.[37] The divorce rate in China has quadrupled in the past thirty years and extra-marital affairs are a major reason why.[38]

Arranged Marriages The fact that the mother-in-law felt empowered to interject herself into her child’s future marriage by posting the Ten Commandments of Marriage is illus-

LaVacca trative of the active role Chinese parents have always played in the marriage decisions of their children. Marriage in traditional China was a matter of family business and was arranged by the parents. A girl was the property of her father when she was young and of her husband after she married.[39] This meant that, in traditional society, Chinese women and girls could be bought and sold by their husbands and fathers. The Taiwanese phrase shim-pua is widely used to describe the child-marriage practice where a girl was given to a wealthier family to be raised as a future daughterin-law, a common practice not only in Taiwan but throughout rural China.[40] The Communists outlawed arranged marriages in the Marriage Act of 1950 and coerced marriages largely disappeared for thirty years.[41] Since 1980, however, there has been resurgence in the trafficking of women for arranged marriage.[42] The one-child policy has caused a bride shortage and many rural men are having difficulty finding brides. In 1990, 76% of unmarried 28-49 year old Chinese lived in rural areas and 97% of those were men.[43] Men without brides are resorting to buying women trafficked in from the poorest and most remote parts of China. While economists argue that the shortage of women should give them the upper hand, research shows that women are more likely to be raped when there are fewer of them.[44] Researchers have found that married women in rural China have no supportive family, friends, or neighbors, as well as a low social status with their husbands and in-laws.[45] In 1994, the World Bank reported that 30% of the deaths of otherwise healthy rural Chinese women were due to suicide among those sold into marriages and it acknowledged reports of mass suicides in rural China of women sold into unwanted and violent marriages.[46] This degradation is a daily reality for women in rural China today, a particularly problematic manifestation of the unequal gender ratio. While coerced marriage is illegal in China, local rural authorities are refusing to enforce the law. Village leaders believe that trafficking brides solves the problem for single men, normalizes public order, and contributes to the local economy.[47] The persistence of arranged or coerced marriage illustrates that modern times have not changed the status of women in


rural China. Chinese women are still being bought and sold by Chinese men. Indeed, it might be possible to view the Ten Marriage Commandments as a method for anxious mothers to secure a safety net for their daughters.

Conclusion Marriage and family remain important in Chinese culture. Traditionally, wives were considered inferior to their husband’s, as reflected in the Confucian doctrine which says “the virtue of a woman lies in the three obediences: obedience to the father, husband, and son.” [48] Mao Zedong hoped to free China from its feudal treatment of women, famously declaring that “women hold up half the sky.” The Marriage Act of 1950 was a significant advancement for the legal and social status of Chinese women as wives. However, the subsequent Marriage Acts of 2001 and 2011 and the recent decisions of the Supreme People’s Court interpreting the marriage laws have been a setback for Chinese women. The mother-in-law’s posting of her Ten Commandments of Marriage reflects that contemporary culture in China still devalues women. She is setting a bride price for the purchase of her daughter. The irony is that while the mother-in-law may economically win in the short-term, what she has done in the long-term by treating women as a commodity to be bought and sold was to reduce her daughter’s value in society. While the “Ten Commandments of Marriage” appear feminist upon a first reading, a careful consideration illustrates that they are not. Marriage and family have been modernized in contemporary China, but the traditional treatment of women as inferior to men remains.

Notes [1] Raymond Zhou, “10 Commandments of Marriage,” China Daily Europe, October 4, 2013, http://, (accessed Jan. 22, 2015). [2] Deborah S. Davis, “Privatization of Marriage in Post-Socialist China,” Modern China 40, no. 6 (2014): 553. [3] Leta Hong Fincher, “Women’s Rights at Risk,” DisVolume 5


Women and Marriage in Contemporary China

sent, Spring 2013, 36. [4] Davis, Privatization of Marriage, 551. [5] Ibid, 552-53. [6] Ibid, 560. [7] David Eimer, “China’s Divorce Law Dubbed ‘Law that Makes Men Laugh and Women Cry,’” The Telegraph (Beijing), Oct. 30, 2011, http://www.telegraph., (accessed March 3, 2015). [8] Fincher, Women’s Rights, 37. [9] Lena Edlund, Honbin Li, Junjian Yi, and Junsen Zhang, “Sex Ratios and Crime: Evidence from China,” Review of Economics and Statistics 95, no. 4 (December 1, 2013): 1520. [10] Quanbao Jiang and Jesus Sanchez-Barricarte, “Bride Price in China: The Obstacle to ‘Bare Branches’ Seeking Marriage,” History of the Family 17, no. 1 (2012): 4. [11] Ibid, 9-11. [12] Ibid, 11-12. [13] Edlund, Sex Ratios and Crime, 1521-22. [14] Jianhong Liu, “Crime Patterns During the Market Transition in China,” British Journal of Criminology 45, (2005): 624. [15] Gracie Ming Zhao, “Trafficking of Women for Marriage in China: Policy and Practice,” Criminal Justice 3, no. 1 (2003): 91. [16] Diana Martin, “Chinese Ghost Marriage,” An Old State in New Settings: Studies in the Social Anthropology of China in Memory of Maurice Freedman, (1991): 26. [17] Economist, “China’s Corpse Brides: Wet Goods and Dry Goods,” Economist, July 26, 2007. [18] Shu Chen, “In China: A Macabre Trade in Ghost Brides,” Forbes, June 15, 2007. [19] Ibid. [20] Zhou, Ten Commandments. [21] Li Tang, Andy Lee, Colin Binns, Yuxiong Yang, Yan Wu, Yanxia Li, Liqian Qiu, “Widespread Usage of Infant Formula in China: A Major Public Health Problem,” Birth 41, no. 4 (2014): 340-41. [22] Ibid. [23] Qian Gong, and Peter Jackson, “Mediating Science and Nature: Representing and Consuming Infant Formula Advertising in China,” European Journal of Cultural Studies 16, no. 3 (2013): 286. [24] Zhao, Trafficking of Women, 240. Penn Asian Review

[25] Jianghong Liu, Zumin Shi, Diane Spatz, Rebecca Loh, Guiju Sun, and Jean Grisso, “Social and Demographic Determinants for Breastfeeding in a Rural, Suburban, and City Area of South East China,” Contemporary Nurse 45 no. 2 (2013): 240. [26] Ibid, 239. [27] Jeremy Seror, Audrey Amar, Leslie Braz, and Roman Rouzier, “The Google News Effect: Did the Tainted Milk Scandal in China Temporarily Impact Newborn Feeding Patterns in a Maternity Hospital?” Acta Obstetricia et Gynecolgica 89, (2010): 825. [28] Yan-Qiong Ouyang, You-Xian Xu, and Qing Zhang, “Survey on Breastfeeding among Chinese Female Physicians and Nurses,” Nursing and Health Sciences 14, (2012): 301. [29] Chin-Man Ku, and Susan Chow, “Factors Influencing the Practice of Exclusive Breastfeeding among Hong Kong Chinese Women: A Questionnaire Survey,” Journal of Clinical Nursing 19 (2010): 2441. [30] Davis, Privatization of Marriage, 559. [3 ] Ibid, 560. [32] Ibid, 559. [33] Suowei Xiao, “The ‘Second-Wife’ Phenomenon and the Relational Construction of Class-Coded Masculinities in Contemporary China,” Men and Masculinities, (2011): 608. [34] Ibid, 622. [35] Sharon LaFraniere, “Revising China’s Marriage Law, Court Prepares to Favor Wronged Wives’ Claims,” New York Times, Feb. 17, 2011, 15. [36] Ibid. [37] Xiao, The Second Wife Phenomenon, 608. [38] Ibid. [39] Louise Higgins, Mo Zheng, Yali Liu, and Chun Sun, “Attitudes to Marriage and Sexual Behaviors: A Survey of Gender and Culture Differences in China and United Kingdom,” Sex Roles, (2002): 76. [40] Jie Zhang, “Marriage and Suicide among Chinese Rural Young Women,” Social Forces, (2010): 312. [4 ] Zhao, Trafficking of Women, 92. [42] Ibid, 92-93. [43] Ibid, 87. [44] Fincher, Women’s Rights, 38. [45] Zhang, Marriage and Suicide, 319-21. [46] Zhao, Trafficking of Women, 90. [47] Ibid. [48] Higgins, Attitudes to Marriage, 76.



The Asian Microcosm: East Asia’s Connectivity during Tumultous Times Patrick Gadala-Maria During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, several new developments were occurring in East Asia. European explorers were making their way into East Asia to trade and spread their religion. By the start of the seventeenth century, Japan had managed to unify the country under one ruler and invaded Chosŏn Korea. Korea was a tributary state to China at the time, and shared Confucian practices with the legitimacy of the ruler stemming from the Mandate of Heaven. China was eventually overtaken by Manchurian rule, and the fall of the Ming led to the rise of a new Qing Dynasty. Trading restrictions on the part of the Chinese would eventually come to lead to the beginnings of a new Canton system. Thus contrary to popular belief, China, Japan, and Korea’s interactions with Europeans as well as each other demonstrate that East Asia was neither backwards nor closed during this period of history. Jesuit missionaries had arrived in East Asia during the “Age of Discovery” as early as the late fifteenth century, and some had been quite successful in both integrating into Asian life and creating Christian converts. One of the most successful missionaries was Matteo Ricci, who arrived in Macao in 1582 and whose scientific knowledge and accommodating approach made a favorable impression on many Chinese.[1] Christianity was often discouraged due to the threats it may cause towards the Confucian political belief system, and so Europeans were later prevented from propagating their religion[2]; however, when presented as religion that would coexist with Confucian philosophy, it was often more widely accepted. Although Europeans were allowed to live in China, they were forced to adopt China’s customs and never allowed to return to their home country.[3] In Japan, the Tokugawa shogunate even went as far as banning Christianity to prevent its spread in 1606 and expelled the Portuguese and Spanish by 1639.[4] Despite such restrictions,

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by 1614, there were up to 300,000 converts in Japan, and by 1700, the same number of Christians could be found in China.[5] In Jonathan Spence’s The Question of Hu, which makes use of manuscript historical sources in order to create a narrative, reinforces historical points such as China’s trade leverage. The book depicts a mutual dismissal of opposing cultures, with Hu, a Chinese man who is brought along with Fouquet back to Paris, constantly misunderstanding and outright dismissing European customs while Du Halde dismisses Hu’s unusual behavior as “attributed to a bodily indisposition brought on by the sudden change of food and climate.”[6] Indeed, Sino-European interaction was oftentimes condescending though respectful on both sides as evidenced by McCartney’s observation that the Chinese emperor Qianlong’s manner was “dignified, but affable, and condescending, and his reception of us has been very gracious and satisfactory”[7] as well Volume 5


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as Francis Xavier’s observation that the Japanese were “the best heathen who have yet been discovered.”[8] Hu’s devout Christianity as presented in The Question of Hu also helps outline how widespread Christianity had become in China during the seventeenth century. With 1644 came the end of the Ming and rise of the Qing Dynasty in China. The Jurchen (Manchu) tribes of the north had managed to overtake and conquer China during this time, and a new rule had been established. Korea viewed the Manchus as barbarians and would later be invaded by the Manchus in 1627 and again in 1637, taking the Korean crown prince hostage and reducing Chosŏn Korea to a tributary of the Manchu Qing Dynasty[9]. Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga), a Ming loyalist, also attempted to spare Formosa (Taiwan) from Manchu rule until 1683. He was viewed as a hero to the Japanese, who viewed China to be in decline after the fall of the Ming Dynasty.[10] During Qing China, life was not in decline or isolationistic, but actually quite favorable for its time. While it restricted trade, China was still a large participant, diverting its focus from European markets to the Mongols’ and Tibetans’ instead. The country also excelled in terms of demographic structure, average life expectancy, level of commercial development, legal property rights, and overall standard of living, comparing favorably with Western Europe by 1800. While several embassies came to China from the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, and the Vatican, there was little formal diplomatic contact between China and Europe, and so private trade was resumed and eventually restricted to Guangzhou (Canton) in 1760,[11] although Canton had already been legally opened to private merchants from tributary countries as early as 1509.[12] The Qing emperor Qianlong’s stern practice regarding European expansion helped to preserve this Canton system. During what is known as the McCartney Mission in 1792, Lord McCartney of England had been sent to China for negotiations on opening trade with Britain, but the Qianlong emperor refused on every point. On the point of allowing extraterritoriality, Qianlong found such jurisdiction from such a great distance away to be preposterous, and when it came to the matter of extending trade to more ports, he posited that “supposing that other nations were all to imitate your evil example and beseech me to present them each and all with a site for trading purPenn Asian Review

poses, how could I possibly comply.”[13] While such obstinate resistance may give the illusion of a closed China, such actions were sensible in protecting China’s national integrity, especially since it already had a number of local and overseas trade practices in place centuries earlier. After the center of civilized world in China had been trampled by Manchu invaders, the Koreans began to perceive themselves as the sole remaining, isolated outpost of Confucian civilization, and developed itself further in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. [14] Farming began to be less for subsistence and more for commercial markets, and literature written in the Hangul script also flourished. While Korea had not come close to commercially developing at the same level as China and Japan, this was partly because of the issues raised due to land factors. However, this can be attributed to Korea’s lack of convenient water transportation;[15] whereas China benefited from its network of major rivers and canals and Japan made great use of the Inland Sea, Korea had no such luxury to assist its commercial development, and aristocratic disdain for commerce may have also played a role.[16] Despite this, through Korea’s adoption of Chinese statecraft, Confucian philosophy and education, and an incorporation of the Chinese written language as early as the seventh century, Korea managed to preserve and build upon its civilization..[17] The Western label of Korea as the “hermit kingdom” during this period of history as well as the idea that Korea’s contact with the wider world was “virtually nonexistent” become difficult ideas to swallow. While Korea was certainly less developed than either China or Japan at the time, its increasing commercialization as well as its continued trading policies shows that this was not the case. Although Korea’s trade was restrictive, it was in many ways justified and never nonexistent. Trade with Japan had continued despite the recent invasion by the lords of Satsuma Domain and Japanese merchant trade in a walled compound in Pusan. Manchu demands for Chosŏn support raised difficulty for Korea as well due to their long-standing tributary relationship with the Ming Dynasty and gratitude for their military aid during Japan’s invasions. It was their resistance to the new Manchu rule that contributed to Korea’s ban of private trade with China past the Yalu

Gadala-Maria River. Korea’s adoption of the Japanese calendar in 1645 was also likely in response to the new Qing Dynasty established only a year earlier. Despite its trade restrictions, Korea’s relations with China as a tributary state still continued, demonstrating its noncommercial interaction with other countries during this time. Korea certainly reduced its interactions, but the threat of the Japanese and the perceived barbarianism of the Manchus made such policies inevitable. In Japan, the late sixteenth century had featured the rise of what would come to be known as the country’s three great unifiers: Nobunaga, who began the unification; Hideyoshi, who completed it in the late sixteenth century and ambitiously attempted to invade China and Korea; and Tokugawa Ieyasu, a great unifier who would come to usurp Hideyoshi and lead to a long period of stability and peace within the country.[18] Hideyoshi’s expeditions to invade Korea failed twice in 1592 and 1597 due to interference from China. The invasions led to a minimization of relations between Korea and Japan, leading to the beginnings of what some historians would come to call Korea’s policy as the “hermit kingdom.” Relations between Korea and Japan were never completely eradicated, however; trade was merely restricted to the port of Pusan, and relations between the Korean and Japanese rulers were continued.[19] Japan was a large, bustling civilization for its time. Around the early eighteenth century, Edo (Tokyo), the new capital, had reached population levels of around one million. When put into a European perspective, Paris contained a population of only around half a million at the time.[20] The Japanese work ethic developed during this time also helped prepare Japan for late-nineteenth-century modern mechanized industrialization.[21] While Japan’s trading was restricted to ports, it still traded widely with its neighbors as well as Europeans and benefited from trade. Japan’s improvement in technology, education, and rural industry during the Tokugawa period proved that seventeenth and eighteenth century Japan was not backwards, but actually quite civilized, and increasingly so. After unification, Japan had the means and desire to create its own set of tributary states, with their


sights set on Korea and the Ryukyu Islands. Tokugawa Ieyasu had been reluctant to participate in China’s tributary system in the region, and therefore the “Chinese world order,” due to the benefits of autonomy and alternative avenues of trade.[22] Japan instead gained its own share of followers—the Ryukyuan usage of the Japanese name by King Sho Tei, for example, provides evidence of the islands’ subordinate role to Japan.[23] The Tokugawa Shogunate had also felt threatened by outside destabilizing developments such as Christianity, and even went as far as banning foreign travel by the Japanese in 1635 and all Europeans but the Dutch by 1639, though diplomatic missions with countries such as Korea were still maintained.[24] Holland and China were ultimately restricted to trade in Nagasaki harbor and not recognized as foreign states, a policy benefiting Japan as they had attempted to oust China’s world order. Korea and Japan had also established and maintained a state parity system with Japan as evidenced through the language used in letters exchanged between Japan’s Great Prince Tsunayoshi and Korea’s King Sukchong.[25] This is significant since China had its own tributary system with Korea long before relations with Japan were formally established. China advocated subordination from its neighboring countries in order to authorize them as participants within its tributary system, subjecting them to concede to China as the principal regional power.[26] China had been the center of this tributary system, and it became clear that Japan had become resentful of China’s position. Since Japan had vehemently refused to follow the Chinese world order, which was based around Confucian philosophy, it is ironic that Tokugawa Japan ended up becoming the golden age of Confucianism. Samurai ended up adopting traits of loyalty and taking a more Confucian outlook. The new education system in Japan focused around a mastery of the written Chinese language and the Confucian classics, a practice that mirrored that of the Han Dynasty of China. [27] Tokugawa Japan had become oriented more than ever before toward the language and classical culture of continental China.[28] Early modern East Asia experienced a myriad of concerns regarding interactions and diplomacy with its neighboring countries and Europeans during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. China, Korea, and Japan’s limited interactions between the EuropeVolume 5


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ans and each other were necessary during a period in history when invasion and subjugation were not uncommon and Christianity was seen as a threat to Confucian world order. The transition into the Canton system was a necessary check for the countries’ own protection in a new age of mercantilism, and it served to maintain the benefits of trading relations between other nations as well. Though trading and diplomatic practices were restrictive, they were never absolute, and economic and political interactions were maintained when deemed beneficial, usually among regional powers. Their interactions during these centuries tended to exhibit an evolution of East Asian relations as Korea and Japan made efforts to distance themselves from a previous “Chinese world order” due to reservations against China’s new Manchu rule and contempt for China’s regional influence, respectively. Finally, trade interactions had a major impact on the evolution and advancement of each country’s philosophy, economy, and education. Far from backward, China had very high standards of living compared to Europe, and Edo was one of the largest civilizations of its time. Despite their trade restrictions, China, Korea, and Japan had maintained enough interactions to significantly develop each of their societies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Notes [1] Charles Holcombe, A History of East Asia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 164. [2] “China and the Eighteenth-Century World (1792),” Course Reader #6, 109. [3] “China and the Eighteenth-Century World,” 104. [4]Fred Dickinson, “East Asian Diplomacy” (lecture, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 16, 2013.) [5] Ibid. [6] Jonathan Spence, The Question of Hu (New York: Vintage Books, 1988), 71. [7]“China and the Eighteenth-Century World,” 99. [8] Fred Dickinson, “East Asian Diplomacy” (lecture, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 16, 2013.) [9] Holcombe, p.176. [10] Lecture, Sept. 11, 2013. [11] Holcombe,174 [12] Holcombe,162. Penn Asian Review

[13] “China and the Eighteenth-Century World,” 108. [14] Holcombe, 176-177. [15] Holcombe, 177. [16] Ibid. [17] Lecture, Sept. 9, 2013. [18] Holcombe, 181-182. [19] Ibid., 182. [20] Holcombe, 185. [21] Ibid., 188. [22] John E. Wills, Jr., Embassies and Illusions (Cambridge: Harvard U Press, 1984), 172. [23] Wills, 181. [24] Holcombe, 183. [25] Wills, 178. [26] Wills, 171-172. [27] “The Imperial Order and Han Syntheses,” Course Reader #1, 284. [28] Holcombe, 183.



To be Japanese American: An exploration of Japanese American identity across borders Mia Leyland Introduction/Methodology How do Japanese Americans develop an identity in America versus Japan? This age-old question regarding identity is particularly interesting for Japanese Americans, who innately possess transnational experiences. In particular, these experiences are easily seen in a multiracial person, who is inherently part of two or more different cultures, leading to a questioning of how they fit in with their societies, both by the individual themselves and the people around them. As a multiracial Japanese American myself, I have found myself questioning my identity throughout my entire life, and so I began to research multiracial Japanese American identity. However, while researching this topic, I came to the realization that in America, this questioning of identity is not limited to multiracial Japanese Americans, but extends to monoracial Japanese Americans as well. Under the umbrella categorization of these two groups as “Japanese American,” I became interested in how the development of identity is the same or different for Japanese Americans in Japan and America. Although the term “Japanese American” can be categorized in a number of ways, for the scope of this paper, “Japanese American” refers to anyone of Japanese ancestry who identifies as an American –whether this is a person with two ethnically Japanese parents, one ethnically Japanese parent, or one ethnically Japanese grandparent. It should be noted that in order to identify as an American, it is not necessary that the individual was born in America. In other words, the individual who is Japanese American may have been born and/or raised in America, has a parent who was born and/or raised in America, spent a significant portion of their life in America, etc. Furthermore, the research concerning the topic of Japanese American

identity demonstrated a need to distinguish between multiracial Japanese Americans and monoracial Japanese Americans. While a monoracial Japanese American refers to a Japanese American whose parents are both ethnically Japanese, a multiracial Japanese American refers to a Japanese American whose ancestry extends beyond that of Japan. In other words, multiracial Japanese Americans are not one hundred percent ethnically Japanese, and have ancestors from outside of Japan. This paper is organized into the dissection of four groups of multiracial Japanese Americans in America, multiracial Japanese Americans in Japan, monoracial Japanese Americans in America, and monoracial Japanese Americans in Japan. The research surrounding this paper was collected through various articles and qualitative studies involving in-depth interviews with Japanese American individuals residing in America and Japan. The focus of many of these interviews was identity formation. However, finding sources proved difficult in many cases because there are not many studies that focus on Japanese American identity within America or even Asian American identity in America; it was easier to find sources dealing with Japanese American identity in Japan. Furthermore, the research was divided between interviews with multiracial Japanese Americans and monoracial Japanese Americans and exposed that rather than a difference between how Japanese Americans develop an identity in America versus Japan, there is a larger discrepancy between how multiracial Japanese Americans and monoracial Japanese Americans develop an identity, regardless of where they reside. The research question was therefore refined to: How do multiracial Japanese Americans and monoracial Japanese Americans develop an identity in America versus Japan?

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The Multiracial Japanese American Experience A. Place: America Although one of the main measurements of assimilation is interracial marriage, historically, America has not always been as welcoming of interracial marriage as it is perceived to be today. As Zhenchao Qian, a sociologist and professor at Ohio State University, points out, a Supreme Court case in 1967, Loving v. Virginia, finally ruled “that laws forbidding people of different races to marry were unconstitutional.”[1] As a result, interracial marriages rose significantly. While this is a fantastic achievement in breaking social norms, interracial marriage rates still remain at about 8% of marriages in the United States,[2] meaning that the multiracial population—or children birthed from these interracial marriages—continues to be low as well. Due to their population being rather low, a number of questions arise concerning multiracials; in particular, a question of identity emerges, with an expectation that multiracials are not fully adapted to either culture: Where do they “fit in” with society? A number of studies have tried to identify a specific process of identity formation for multiracial people. In particular, Collins (2000) cites Kich (1982), who proposes a three stage developmental process of biracial identity. In stage one, multiracials experience an initial awareness of a dissonance between how they perceive themselves and how others perceive them. This is followed by a struggle for acceptance from others, and finally, through interactions with others and experiences of belonging, an acceptance of themselves as people with biracial identities.[3] In other words, a multiracial person will come to terms with a biracial identity and exists in both societies. Collins (2000) also describes Poston’s (1990) five-stage approach for multiracials’ identity formation, which focuses more on differences and similarities among various groups. [4] What is interesting about both proposed identity formation processes is not necessarily the individual stages themselves, but the fact that they both end with a positive construction of one’s identity. Collins (2000) attempted to explore how Japanese Americans in particular develop an identity as a result of comparisons to other individuals, groups, Penn Asian Review

and the environment. In order to do so, he interviewed fifteen individuals, aged 20-40, each with one Japanese and one non-Japanese parent. Of the fifteen interviewed individuals, four of them had never traveled to Japan, and all had moved to California in order to find more Japanese Americans. While their social experiences seemed fixed as youths, they were able to select a more personalized social and geographic setting as adults, which allowed them to explore different aspects of their biracial identity. This, Collins argues, reflected an emotional and conflicting process with themes of self-evaluation, belonging, exploration, confusion of categorization, acceptance, and situational use of identity that led to a positive assertion of identity.[5] Based on his own study and the aforementioned models of Kich (1982) and Poston (1990), Collins proposes a four-phase model of identity formation for multiracial Japanese Americans. Phase one is where the individual experiences confusion and begins to question their identity due to a perceived lack of full affiliation with both the Japanese community and the larger, majority community. As a result, in phase two, the individual attempts to label him/herself and select one ethnicity over the other, suppressing the one they have rejected. Collins reported that many of the individuals in the study did not acknowledge their Japanese side when they were young because they grew up in predominantly white neighborhoods. Furthermore, all individuals expressed being victims of discrimination and humiliation due to Asian features, leading to a desire to belong in the majority group. Similarly, in cases where individuals wanted to identify with their Japanese heritage, they were met with Japanese phrases such as “doko no uma no hone ka wakaranai,” directly translating to “you don’t know what horse the bone came from,” meaning that you do not know where the person belongs; the individuals were met with discrimination by both cultures. In phase three, the individual begins to search for a positive reference group that could help him/her develop a positive self-esteem, while also piecing together bits of information that he/ she feels is relevant to his/her identity. For instance, many of the individuals interviewed traveled to Japan as a way of exploring their Japanese side, and all moved to the San Francisco Bay area, known for its flexibility in regards to societal, racial, and environmental themes. Phase four is that of acceptance, in which the

Leyland individual acknowledges that he/she is a member of both communities, rather than having to choose one over the other.[6] In America, many multiracials, Japanese Americans in particular, refer to themselves as a Hapa or a Halfie, meaning half one culture and half another, and embrace a “best of both worlds” attitude. While identity seems to be compromised initially, again, the notion of a positive identity is the outcome for these multiracial Japanese American people. B. Place: Japan Unlike America, which is made of countless different races, religions, and cultures, Japan remains a relatively homogenous nation. Consequently, multiracial Japanese Americans can find it even more discouraging at the start to develop an identity in Japan in comparison to America. Jane Yamashiro, a sociologist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, attributes this to Japanese politicians and media, which “… promote a narrow, homogenous view of ‘Japanese’ as ancestry-based and ‘pure-blooded’” and explains that as a result, “people of Japanese ancestry who are also of other ancestries are excluded from claiming a ‘true’ Japanese identity.”[7] However, Yamashiro is also quick to defend, acknowledging that life for multiracials in Japan continues to improve through a history of various terms used to talk about multiracials. During the postwar period, multiracials in Japan were referred to as ainoko, a blatantly derogatory term used to describe the mixing of animal species. At this time, most multiracial children were born of U.S. military men and lower class Japanese women, causing them to be viewed as lower class and looked upon unfavorably due to remaining animosity towards the U.S. military. However, in the post-Occupation era, when war animosities cooled down, people began using the term konketsuji, literally meaning, “mixed blood child,” to refer to multiracial Japanese; while it was considered a politically correct alternative to ainoko at the time, konketsuji has now been deemed an offensive term as well. The most commonly used term to describe multiracial Japanese people today is hafu, literally meaning, “half,” and conjures up a more popular and exotic image of multiracials that emerged from the 1960s. Generally, hafu means a mix of Japa-


nese and white heritage, and most people visualize the glamorized image of half white, half Japanese people known as talento who exist on Japanese TV as models and celebrities. The problem with the image of hafu today is that it is superficial and emphasizes Japan’s globalization and international relations where parents are often businesspeople, diplomats, or upper class global elites. While the image of the multiracial in Japan has arguably changed in a positive light, they are still depicted in stereotypical ways and are not treated as “regular” Japanese.[8] While hafu encompasses language ability, phenotypical traits, international experience, and cultural knowledge, efforts to show that identity is not compromised by being between multiple cultures has led to the emergence of a new term in Japan: daburu. The term daburu literally means, “double,” and is used by some biracials in Japan under the idea that the combination of two different identities results in what is more than the sum of its parts – identity is doubled.[9] The term daburu is preferred by some multiracial people because it implies that the individual identifies fully with more than one culture, whereas hafu could be taken to mean that the individual is only half of each culture. This shows a paradigm shift in how people understand those with multiple backgrounds. Furthermore, portrayals in popular media are changing with mixed race celebrities born and raised in Japan, who only speak Japanese. This adds a new dimension to the concept of multiracial people in Japan as not always being bilingual or bicultural, nor phenotypical traits as the only signs of foreignness. For a multiracial attempting to create an identity for oneself in Japan, this may provide the opening for a third social category in Japan beyond that of “Japanese” and “foreigner.”

The Monoracial Japanese American Experience A. Place: America Many Americans grow up with a stereotypical conception of Asians largely due to the media. In particular, these stereotypes include the model minority, the nerd/poor communicator, and the foreigner. The model minority and the nerd are more obvious stereotypes that seem to categorize an entire person, whereas the foreigner stereotype is perpetuated more subtly. Volume 5


To be Japanese American

Japanese Americans (and other Asian Americans) are often ostracized as outsiders with questions that can seem innocent, such as “Do you speak English?” and “Where are you really from?” Furthermore, Zhang (2010) found that Asian Americans are perceived as more likely to be left out than other racial-ethnic groups because they are seen as more exotic and non-American and do not belong to the same degree as other groups.[10] One Japanese American woman described that being Japanese American in America can feel chuuto hampa, which roughly translates to “halfway,” or simply the feeling of something left unfinished. In other words, the woman felt neither fully Japanese nor American.[11] Attempts to create an identity in America are further compromised due to the absence of information. Elders often shy away from giving their children stories of their family history because they do not want them to feel negatively towards or shameful of their history (i.e. Japanese internment camps).[12] The lack of information surrounding Japanese American identity (and Asian American identity) is in itself proof that Japanese Americans are perceived as foreigners. It is a topic that, in America, is not very explored because Japanese Americans do not seem to be a proper part of society. Furthermore, when there is information regarding Asian Americans, there is not much separation between different nationalities (i.e. Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc.) and there is a larger focus on keeping Asian culture alive, rather than attempts to negotiate their Asian and American nationalities. Unfortunately, this vicious cycle of the association of foreignness with Japanese Americans and the resulting lack of information made finding research about monoracial Japanese Americans in America particularly difficult. B. Place: Japan As a result of their homogeneous tendencies as a nation, in Japan, people are subject to placement into one of two social categories: nihonjin and gaijin, or in other words, “Japanese” and “foreigner,” respectively. To be nihonjin, you have to have Japanese blood, be a Japanese citizen, be a fluent speaker of Japanese, and be culturally knowledgeable members of Japanese society, while anyone who does not encompass all of these characteristics is labeled gaijin. This leads to an awkward position for Japanese Americans in Japan, Penn Asian Review

who are Japanese in terms of phenotype and ancestry, but are foreigners in language, culture, and citizenship. In other words, when Japanese Americans travel to Japan from the U.S., there is a tradeoff of social and linguistic similarity and ethnic difference with a social and linguistic difference and ethnic similarity. Yamashiro (2011) interviewed 50 monoracial Japanese Americans (aged 20-50) living or planning to live in Japan for at least one year. Most individuals were born and raised in the U.S., varying in generations of Japanese Americans, though many had visited Japan before living there as adults, and differed in their cultural knowledge of Japan and language skills of Japanese. However, there was a focus on phenotypically-Japanese Japanese Americans born and socialized in the U.S., not fluent in Japanese, and not knowledgeable about Japanese social norms.[13] Through the interviews, Yamashiro (2011) came up with a four-step process of identity formation for monoracial Japanese Americans in Japan. The first step is being categorized as a nihonjin. In this phase, monoracial Japanese Americans experience a feeling of acceptance, as they are, for the first time in many cases, able to visually blend into a crowd; this is integral to being accepted as a nihonjin. Furthermore, one interviewee expressed feeling liberated, as back home in the U.S., coming from a predominantly white neighborhood, he felt that he had the burden of representing an entire race due to physical appearance. However, as monoracial Japanese Americans begin interacting with nihonjin in Japan, they enter step two, where their linguistic and cultural differences are revealed; their categorization as nihonjin ends at phenotypical characteristics. As a result, nihonjin are confused by the monoracial Japanese American because they look Japanese, but do not speak and act Japanese, and often times mis-categorize them as Asian immigrants (i.e. Chinese or Korean). At this point, monoracial Japanese Americans feel misunderstood for being mistaken as a person from another part of Asia, and enter step three, where they assert their American identity. They find that Japan has a hierarchy of foreigners in which Americans are more respected than foreigners of other Asian countries, and are able to represent the U.S. in ways that they have never been able to previously. Unfortunately, in Japan, there is an image of an American as blonde-haired and blue-eyed, and when monora-

Leyland cial Japanese Americans do not fit this image, they are questioned on their racialization as American. In other words, Japanese people tend to have an image of America as racially white, and therefore have difficulty coming to terms with a racially Asian person as American. These four steps lead to the development of “Japanese American” as a racialized national identity;[14] they are distinct from “normal Americans” because they are not white. In America, “Japanese American” is categorized as an ethnic minority identity, but in Japan, it is reconstructed as a racialized national identity and shows that social categories, i.e. the concepts of race and ethnicity, vary by society.

Conclusion Whether it is in Japan or America, both multiracial and monoracial Japanese Americans seem to go through a process of questioning their identity and trying to develop that identity. However, it is not the difference in country that seems to affect the formation of an identity for Japanese Americans, but whether the Japanese American is multiracial or monoracial. For the monoracial Japanese American, identity formation begins rather ambiguously, where, caught between two or more distinct cultures, the individual feels the necessity to choose between one and the other, or is expected by society to do so. Instead of succumbing to these expectations, the multiracial Japanese American is able to come to terms with the two different cultures, and in a positive turn, embraces both. On the other hand, the monoracial Japanese American appears to come to terms with the position of a foreigner in both America and Japan. In America, monoracial Japanese Americans are blended into the larger category of Asian American, which is sugarcoated as the “model minority,” but seen as the eternal foreigner in a country that shows more concern to black and white racial problems. The struggle to fit in causes many monoracial Japanese Americans to seek a home in Japan, but the search is more often than not met with the same label as a foreigner. Both monoracial and multiracial Japanese Americans are faced with the problem of the marginal man, a situation in which an individual struggles to establish an identity because they are stuck between two cultural realities.[15] The more interracial marriage becomes popular and people immigrate to America, the larger the population that concerns the


marginal man will become. This paper has focused on such important issues from a Japanese American angle, but hopefully more research will be done on these topics in the future.

Notes [1]Qian, Zhenchao. “Breaking the Last Taboo: Interracial Marriage in America.” Contexts 4, no. 4 (2005), 301. [2] Passel, Jeffrey S., Wendy Wang, and Paul Taylor. “Marrying Out: One-in-seven New US Marriages is Interracial or Interethnic.” Pew Research Center (June 4). (2010), 1. [3] Collins, J. Fuji. “Biracial Japanese American Identity: An Evolving Process. “Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 6, no. 2 (2000), 117. [4] Collins, “Biracial Japanese American Identity,” 117. [5] Collins, “Biracial Japanese American Identity,” 115116. [6] Collins, “Biracial Japanese American Identity,” 127. [7] Yamashiro, Jane Hisa. When the Diaspora Returns: Transnational Racial and Ethnic Identity Formation Among Japanese Americans in Global Tokyo (2008), 205. [8] Yamashiro, When the Diaspora Returns, 205-208. [9] Yamashiro, When the Diaspora Returns, 208. [10] Zhang, Qin. “Asian Americans Beyond the Model Minority Stereotype: The Nerdy and the Left Out.” Journal of International and Intercultural Communication 3, no. 1 (2010), 31. [11] Moriizumi, Satoshi. “Exploring Identity Negotiations: An Analysis of Intercultural Japanese-US American Families Living in the United States.” Journal of Family Communication 11, no. 2 (2011), 97. [12] Takaragawa, Stephanie. “The Japanese American National Museum and the Construction of Identity.” Visual Anthropology Review 18, no. 1‐2 (2002), 44. [13] Yamashiro, Jane H. “Racialized National Identity Construction in the Ancestral Homeland: Japanese American Migrants in Japan.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 34, no. 9 (2011), 1508. [14] Yamashiro “Racialized National Identity,” 1517. [15] Stonequist, Everett V. “The Problem of the Marginal Man.” American Journal of Sociology (1935), 1.

Volume 5



Printed April 2015. A University of Pennsylvania publication

Penn Asian Review