Chinese students are not The Yellow Peril

Sir James Dyson is one of Britain’s best known and most successful inventors – you may even own one of his bag-less vacuum cleaners.

So when he says in an interview that Chinese students in British Universities are spies who are stealing technical and scientific knowledge from the UK, it gets a lot of media coverage.

Dyson has claimed that these students are taking the knowledge they gain in the UK back to China so that they can compete with Britain, and that they are even leaving ‘bugs’ in university computers so that they can continue to spy  after they have left the country.

Implicit in his argument is the idea that the Chinese are incapable of independent innovation – which is a bit rich given that it was China which invented the compass, porcelain, silk, gunpowder, paper, the moveable press, etc. etc. All of which we in the west have seized on with gusto.

Hmm, Dyson’s thinking strikes me as a form of racist xenophobia – he doesn’t seem perturbed by the many students from the Indian sub-continent who also come to study in the UK and who return home to help their countries develop into  technological competitors to the West.

Why has he singled out Chinese students?  Could it be because he can’t stand the fact that China is developing so rapidly and growing as a world power?  Chinese students work hard to master science subjects, learn a foreign language,  raise a great deal of money to fund their studies, and go through an already rigorous visa application system in order to get into any British university.  When compared with the number of British young people prepared to study engineering and the sciences (which has dropped dramatically over the years), this does not make for happy reading.

This kind of story in the popular press feeds public fears – at the moment I think China is being portrayed as some sort of enemy by much of the western media, and I find it very disturbing.

James Dyson is making out that the Chinese are The Yellow Peril, much as people believed back at the beginning of the 20th Century –  it was a myth then, and it is a myth now.

Shame on him, and shame on the British Press for publishing his comments without any proper examination of the facts.

About herschelian

Started my 60s by moving to China with my DH. Surprised to find I am still here in Beijing eight years later - still finding it an adventure!
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1 Response to Chinese students are not The Yellow Peril

  1. Rachael_of_NYC says:

    His vacuum cleaners have the highest rate of returns as a percentage of total units sold in major U.S. department stores (SEARS, etc). Perhaps if his engineers were Chinese these useless pieces of crap would actually function like a real vacuum cleaner, as his advertisements claim!

    BTW, the U.S. already had a suction machine sine the 1950’s, which leads me to wonder just where Dyson got his original idea from. Hmmm…

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