The theoretical physicist described Chinese people as "industrious", "filthy" and "obtuse"
Chinese internet users have forgiven Albert Einstein’s comments that were regarded as racist.
As reported by QZ, internet users have defended Albert Einstein who described Chinese people as “industrious”, “filthy” and “obtuse”.
Einstein traveled to China as part of his tour in Asia in the 1920s and made the comments in his private diaries.
“Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods,” he wrote. “All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse.”
“It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races,” he added. “For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”
Einstein also described China’s way of life as dull and monotonous with “houses very formulaic, balconies like bee-hive cells”, criticising its “peculiar herd-like nation”.
Chinese internet user have since defended the theoretical physicist on Weibo. “China was poor and lagging behind, sometimes there were famines, most of the people were illiterate,” one user wrote. “Babies died young so people had to have more children to ensure survival. It’s hard not to discriminate against a China like this…Einstein wouldn’t even count if you are getting into talking about racism.”
“I don’t think these are racist comments or humiliating descriptions,” wrote another user. “It’s more like a description of facts. Just look at the economic status, education, and hygiene conditions, which most of the common people wouldn’t care that much about because they didn’t have the conditions.”
“He described them as obtuse and blunt but he also said people were industrious.”
Others commented that Einstein’s descriptions are similar to famous Chinese writer Lu Xun, whose stories highlighted people’s suffering through social changes. “They are observant descriptions, just like Lu Xun, it was a criticism,” wrote one user.
Another asked, “Do we treat people’s criticism differently just because Lu Xun was Chinese while Einstein was a foreigner?”