“Yellow peril” is a phrase that originated in the 19th century with immigration of Chinese and Japanese labourers to the United States in response to the gold rush.
This fear was reinforced by stereotypes presented in the media, such as the “Mongolian Octopus” (in the late 1880s) and the caricature of “John Chinaman” in the figure of Fu Manchu who was portrayed as being cunning, menacing, distrustful and ruthless (in the early 1900s).
Much of the prejudice against Asian people is based on resentment of academic and economic success. The use of the term “yellow peril” continues to stereotype Asians with attributes similar to those in the media since the 1800s, rather than admire or emulate the hard work, self-discipline, stable families and respect for education that have characterised and helped to make them so successful. These are qualities that we value in Australia.
26 November 2004