Yellow Peril

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"The Yellow Terror In All His Glory", 1899 editorial cartoon. That the crazed Chinese man has raped[citation needed] and murdered a white woman shows one of the central themes of Yellow Peril scare-mongering, namely the alleged desire of Asian men to rape white women.

Yellow Peril (sometimes Yellow Terror) was a color metaphor for race, namely the theory that East Asian peoples were a danger to the western world. In the words of the American historian John W. Dower: "the vision of the menace from the East was always more racial rather than national. It derived not from concern with any one country or people in particular, but from a vague and ominous sense of the vast, faceless, nameless yellow horde: the rising tide, indeed, of color."[1] Dower described "the core imagery of apes, lesser men, primitives, children, madmen, and beings who possessed special powers", which had their origins in the wars between the ancient Greeks and Persians, and which the Yellow Peril theory later associated with East Asians.[1][2]

The sinologist Leung Wing Fai wrote that: "The phrase yellow peril (sometimes yellow terror or yellow spectre), coined by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, in the 1890s, after a dream in which he saw the Buddha riding a dragon threatening to invade Europe, blends western anxieties about sex, racist fears of the alien other, and the Spenglerian belief that the West will become outnumbered and enslaved by the East".[3] The American historian Gina Marchetti defined the Yellow Peril as being: "Rooted in medieval fears of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian invasions of Europe, the Yellow Peril combines racist terror of alien cultures, sexual anxieties and the belief that the West will be overpowered and enveloped by the irresistible, dark, occult forces of the East".[4]:2

The term Yellow Peril was coined by German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1895, but the theory that Asian peoples represented a menace to the West originated in the late nineteenth century with Chinese immigrants as coolie slaves or laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States. It was later associated with the Japanese during the mid-20th century, due to Japanese military expansion, and eventually extended to all Asians of East and Southeast Asian descent. It refers to perceptions regarding the skin color of East Asians, along with fears that mass immigration of Asians would threaten the wages of natives and their standards of living, and that Asians had some form of unnatural perversive attitude toward Western women and the fear that they could eventually take over or dominate a large part of western society, replacing it with their ways of life and values.


"Völker Europas, wahrt eure heiligsten Güter" (Peoples of Europe, guard your dearest goods), also known as the 'Knackfuss painting', was a popular German allegory of anxiety about an expanding Asia and Japan in particular.

In the late 19th century, Chinese immigration to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada sparked a racist backlash against those immigrants who were willing to work for lesser wages than the native population, and who were so different in appearance, language and culture from them. In 1870, the French writer Ernest Renan warned of the danger from the East to the West, though in this case Renan primarily meant Russia.[5] In the 1870s, working-class whites in California demanded that the U.S government stop the immigration of "filthy yellow hordes" from China who were supposedly responsible for the economic depression by taking away jobs from white Americans.[1] Horace Greeley, the editor of the New-York Tribune newspaper wrote in an editorial in support of Chinese exclusion that: "The Chinese are uncivilized, unclean, and filthy beyond all conception without any of the higher domestic or social relations; lustful and sensual in their dispositions; every female is a prostitute of the basest order".[1] Widespread dislike of the Chinese led to the Los Angeles pogrom in 1871 where 18 Chinese immigrants were killed by a mob. Denis Kearney, the Irish-born leader of the Workingmen's Party of California gained popularity in the 1870s-80s with his slogan: "The Chinese Must Go!"[6]:349 The pressure to ban Chinese immigration led to the U.S. Congress passing the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.[1]

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany coined the phrase "Yellow Peril" (German: gelbe Gefahr) in September 1895.[7] The Kaiser, under the influence of the anti-Asian diplomat Max von Brandt had come to see China as a rightful area for Germany to colonize.[8]:83 In the Triple Intervention of April 1895, Germany together with France and Russia had presented a diplomatic note to Japan forcing the Japanese to give up most of their gains in China.[8]:83 To justify the intervention, Wilhelm was from April 1895 onwards talking obsessively of the dangers posed by the "yellow race" to the peoples of Europe.[8]:83

In coining the phrase Yellow Peril, Wilhelm had formalized a term for racist fears about Asians that had been common in the West since the mid-19th century, especially from 1870 onwards.[5] The Kaiser had an illustration of this title — depicting the Archangel Michael as an allegorical Germany leading the European powers against an "Asiatic threat" represented by a golden Buddha — hung in all ships of the Hamburg America Line.[5] It was ostensibly designed by the Kaiser himself.[9] The British historian John Röhl described Wilhelm's sketch which inspired the Yellow Peril painting as portraying European nations as "...prehistoric warrior-goddesses being led by the Archangel Michael against the "yellow peril" (represented by a Buddha) from the East".[10]:31[11]:203 The painting was inspired by a dream that Wilhelm had, which Wilhelm took to be a prophecy of the coming, apocalyptic great "race war" between Europe and Asia which would decide the future of the 20th century.[10]:31

The Qing dynasty forced Russia to hand over disputed territory in the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1881), in what was widely seen by the west as a diplomatic victory for the Qing. Russia acknowledged that Qing China potentially posed a serious military threat.[12] Mass media in the west during this era portrayed China as a rising military power due to its modernization programs and as a major threat to the western world, invoking fears that China would successfully conquer western colonies like Australia.[13]

Boxer Rebellion

The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 did much to feed the appeal of the idea of a Yellow Peril.[14]:350 The martial arts Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, known as the Boxers in the West was a fiercely xenophobic movement that blamed all of China's problems on the West, and set out to "save" China by killing all of the Westerners present in China together with all of the Chinese Christians. In the summer of 1900, the Chinese government allowed the Boxers into Beijing, where they were allowed to kill all Westerners and Chinese Christians and to lay siege to the foreign legations.[14]:78-79 The vast majority of the victims of the Boxers were Chinese Christians, but the massacres of thousands of Christian Chinese attracted relatively little interest in the West, where public opinion were consumed with rage at the news that hundreds of Westerners had been killed.[15] For different reasons, both Western and Chinese historians ignore the fact that the vast majority of the victims of the Boxers were fellow Chinese rather than Westerners. Traditionally, most Western historians were mostly interested in recording the history of Westerners being victimized by the Chinese. The official motto in the People's Republic of China is that the Boxers had been patriotic, and acted as Chinese heroes fighting Western imperialism; the fact that Boxers butchered without mercy those Chinese who happened to be Christian did not fit well into official Chinese propaganda. Likewise, the stories of those ordinary Chinese who sheltered Chinese Christians and Westerners from the Boxers tended to be ignored in both China and the West.

The news that the Boxers had committed atrocities against Westerners had stirred deep racial hatreds and led to the war being perceived as a race war. When the news of the violence that occurred in the Boxers' Rebellion reached the West, telling that the Boxers had killed a great number of people, including women and children, this historical fact has been used for decades afterwards by Yellow Peril proponents to "prove" and to create a stereotype that all of the Chinese were a people with an intense, innate murderous hatred of all Westerners. "Boxerism" had been the term used to describe the ultra-violent hatred of the West that was said to lurk with the souls of the Chinese.[15] In 1905, The Economist warned in a leader: “The history of the Boxer movement contains abundant warnings as to the necessity of an attitude of constant vigilance on the part of the European Powers when there are any symptoms that a wave of nationalism is about to sweep over the Celestial Empire.”[15] The fear of "Boxerism" was so enshrined in Western folk memories that when in 1967, during the Cultural Revolution, an incident occurred when the Red Guard stormed the British Embassy in Beijing and beat up the British diplomats present, being explained in the West as just another outbreak of "Boxerism".[15] Given the unwillingness of the Chinese government to protect the lives of foreign nationals living in China from the Boxers, the Eight-Nation Alliance of Britain, the United States, Japan, France, Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy was formed to provide an international expeditionary force to protect their citizens in China from the Boxers, and end the Siege of the International Legations in Beijing.

During the Boxer rebellion, the Russian press often used the term "Yellow Peril" and depicted the war in racial, religious terms as a conflict between "white", "Holy Russia" agains the "yellow", "pagan China".[16]:664 The anti-Asian poems of the philosopher Vladmir Solovyov were often quoted in the Russian press during the Boxer Rebellion.[16]:664 Prince Sergei Nikolaevich Trubetskoy wrote a series of articles in the Russian press in 1900 denouncing the Chinese "yellow peril" and urging Russia together with the other nations to partition China in order to end it.[16]:664-665 In reaction to the Boxer rebellion on 3 July 1900, the Russian authorities expelled the entire Chinese community in Blagoveshchensk, leading to the deaths of thousands of Chinese who drowned in the Amur, and those who refused to cross the Amur were shot down or axed by the police, Cossacks and local volunteers. According to Chinese sources, about 5,000 people reportedly died during the events of July 4–8, 1900.[17] On 27 July 1900, Wilhelm gave a wildly racist speech in Bremerhaven to German soldiers departing to China to suppress the Boxer Uprising, calling on them to commit atrocities against Chinese civilians and to behave like "Huns".[11]:203 In the infamous Hunnenrede (Hun speech), Wilhelm declared:

"When you came before the enemy, you must defeat him, pardon will not be given, prisoners will not be taken! Whoever falls into your hands will fall to your sword! Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves with their ferocity which tradition still recalls; so may the name of Germany become known in China in such a way that no Chinaman will ever dare look a German in the eye even with a squint!".[11]:14

The Auswärtiges Amt, fearful of the damage that this speech might do to Germany's reputation released an edited version of this speech to the press that had the more inflammatory parts removed, only for an annoyed Wilhelm to insist on releasing the full text of "Hun speech". In the words of the German historian Annika Mombauer, the Kaiser's orders at the time "...evoked images of a crusade and considered the current crisis to amount to a war between Occident and Orient. Some of his most notorious public speeches were given in response to the Boxer Rebellion and his private and official correspondence makes for equally shocking reading. As Thomas Nipperdey comments, 'the elaborate accompanying music and the new ideology of the "yellow peril" stood in no relation to the actual possibilities and results"".[18]:96 Wilhelm ordered Field Marshal Alfred von Waldersee to behave with maximum brutality because the Chinese were " nature cowardly like a dog, but also deceitful", and as such extreme violence was the only language that Asians like the Chinese were capable of understanding.[18]:99 Wilhelm's best friend at the time, Prince Philip von Euenburg wrote in a letter to a friend that the Kaiser wanted to raze Beijing to the ground, and kill every single man, woman and child living there in retaliation for the murder of Baron Clemens von Ketteler, the German minister to China.[11]:13 Only the fact that the other members of the Eight-Nation Alliance marching to Beijing would not consent to such a step saved Beijing from the total destruction that the Kaiser wanted together with Eulenburg's efforts to calm the Kaiser.[11]:13 During this time Eulenburg wrote to his friend, the Foreign Secretary Bernhard von Bülow saying that he was utterly terrified of the Kaiser-whom Eulenburg stated was not entirely sane-as the news from China had worked him up to a state of fury, the likes of which he had never seen before.[18]:101 As such, Eulenburg asked that Bülow should carefully limit what news from China was presented to Wilhelm as Eulenburg was afraid of what the Kaiser might do.[18]:101 Much to the intense fury of Wilhelm and Waldersee, Beijing was taken in August 1900 by a largely Russian-Japanese-British-French-American force in August 1900 before the German forces arrived.[18]:107 However, through the idea of razing Beijing was rejected, when the Allied forces took Beijing in August 1900, the city was sacked and the various Allied forces went on a rampage of murder, looting, arson and rape. The British historian Diana Preston wrote: "There was a sense that the Chinese were less than human".[14]:286 Preston gave as an example about how one group of British soldiers threatened to kill an elderly Chinese man unless he gave them his treasure; upon learning that he had no treasure to give, one soldier decided to bayonet him to death.[14]:284 He was stopped by a friend, who said: "No, not that way! I'm going to shoot him. I've always had a longing to see what sort of wound a dum-dum will make and by Christ, I am going to try one on this blasted Chink!".[14]:284 After shooting him, the soldier exclaimed: "Christ, the dum-dum has blown the back out of his bloody nut!".[14]:284 The British admiral Sir Roger Keyes later recalled with disgust: "Every Chinaman...was treated as a Boxer by the Russian and French troops, and the slaughter of men, women, and children in retaliation was revolting".[14]:284 One American woman, Luella Miner reported: "The conduct of the Russian soldiers is atrocious, the French are not much better and the Japanese are looting and burning without mercy. Women and girls by the hundreds have committed suicide to escape a worse fate at the hands of Russian and Japanese brutes."[14]:284 Writing of the atrocities against the Chinese, one British journalist George Lynch wrote "there are things that I must not write, and that may not be printed in England, which would seem to show that this Western civilization of ours is merely a veneer over savagery".[14]:285 Following Wilhelm's orders to behave like "Huns", German troops during the winter of 1900–01 waged several especially harsh punitive expeditions around Beijing, which led to thousands of Chinese civilians being killed.[14]:306-307 Waldersee who arrived in China on 27 September 1900 after the rebellion had crushed, launched 75 punitive expeditions in northern China; most of the victims of these expeditions were women and children as by this time the Boxers had long since fled.[18]:109 Speaking before the Reichstag on 19 November 1900, the German Social Democratic politician August Bebel criticized the war against the Boxers, saying:

"No, this is no crusade, no holy war; it is a very ordinary war of conquest.... A campaign of revenge as barbaric as has never been seen in the last centuries, and not often at all in history...not even with the Huns, not even with the Vandals.... That is not match for what the German and other troops of foreign powers, together with the Japanese troops, have done in China".[18]:97

One Australian wrote after the fall of Beijing: "The future of the Chinese is a fearful problem. Look at the frightful sights one sees in the streets of Peking.... See the filthy tattered rags they wrap around them. Smell them as they pass. Hear of their nameless immorality. Witness their shameless indecency and picture them among your own people-ugh, it makes you shudder!".[14]:350 Despite the fact that Boxer rebellion was crushed, many in the West start to express the fear that the Chinese would not only repeat the same violence of the Boxers, but would attempt to extend it by invading the West.[14]:350-351 Fear of the alleged Yellow Peril was often accompanied by calls for the unity of the "white race". In July 1900, the völkisch thinker Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the "Evangelist of Race" wrote with reference to the Boer War and the Boxer Rebellion: "One thing I can clearly see, that is that it is criminal for Englishmen and Dutchmen to go on murdering each other for all sorts of sophisticated reasons, while the Great Yellow Danger overshadows us white men and threatens destruction."[19]:357 In Chamberlain's case, anti-Asian racism was linked to anti-Semitism as Chamberlain wrote in his best-selling 1899 book The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century that Chinese civilization was founded by the Jews as the Chinese had "...the total absence of all culture and the one-sided emphasizing of civilization."[19]:193

Germany and Russia

Even before his dream, Wilhelm was obsessed with the supposed danger represented by Asian peoples towards the "white race", writing in an letter to his cousin Emperor Nicholas II of Russia in April 1895: "It is clearly the great task of the future for Russia to cultivate the Asian continent and defend Europe from the inroads of the Great Yellow Race".[10]:31 The British historian James Palmer wrote that:

"The 1890s had spawned in the West the spectre of the "Yellow Peril", the rise to dominance of the Asian peoples. The evidence cited was Asian population growth, immigration to the West (America and Australia in particular), and increased Chinese settlement along the Russian border. These demographic and political fears were accompanied by a vague and ominous dread of the mysterious powers supposedly possessed by the initiates of Eastern religions. There is a striking German picture of the 1890s, depicting the dream that inspired Kaiser Wilhelm II to coin the term "Yellow Peril", that shows the union of these ideas. It depicts the nations of Europe, personified as heroic, but vulnerable female figures guarded by the Archangel Michael, gazing apprehensively towards a dark cloud of smoke in the East, in which rests an eerily calm Buddha, wreathed in flame...Combined with this was a sense of the slow sinking of the Abendland, the "Evening Land" of the West. This would be put most powerfully by thinkers such as Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West (1918) and the Prussian philosopher Moeller van den Bruck, a Russian-speaker obsessed with the coming rise of the East. Both called for Germany to join the "young nations" of Asia-through the adoption of such supposedly Asiatic practices as collectivism, "inner barbarism", and despotic leadership. The identification of Russia with Asia would eventually overwhelm such sympathies, instead leading to a more-or-less straightforward association of Germany with the values of "the West", against the "Asiatic barbarism" of Russia. This was most obvious during the Nazi era, when virtually every piece of anti-Russian propaganda talked of the "Asiatic millions" or "Mongolian hordes", which threatened to overrun Europe, but the identification of the Russians as Asian-and especially as Mongolian-continued well into the Cold War era."[10]:30-31

The idea of the "Yellow Peril" became especially popular in Germany from the 1890s onward, and often colored German perceptions of Russia, which many Germans viewed as either a half-Asian or entirely Asian nation well into the 20th century.[10]:31 Folk memories of the destructive Mongol conquests under Genghis Khan often led to the term Mongol being used as a shorthand for the alleged Asian culture of extreme cruelty and supposed insatiable appetite for conquest, and as such all it was common to label all Asians as "Mongols".[10]:57-58 In particular, Genghis Khan was invoked as the personification of Asian inhumanity; the utterly ruthless leader of the merciless and extremely efficient killing machine that was said to be the Mongol horde.[10]:57-58 In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt wrote that because of folk memories of the Mongol invasion of Europe, churches in Eastern Europe still used the litany: "From the fury of the Mongols, good Lord deliver us".[20] Such was the identification of Asians with cruelty that German authors influenced by the racial theories so popular in Germany at the time often explained the icy, relentless, cruel fanaticism of Vladimir Lenin as due to his "Mongol blood"-a reference to the fact that Lenin's great-grandmother was a Kalmyk.[10]:253

Sometimes the fact that Genghis Khan had killed millions of people during his conquest of much of Eurasia was taken as a point of admiration. The insane, anti-Semitic fanatic General Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, also known as the "God of War" conquered Mongolia in 1921 with the aim of using it as a base for the conquest of the Soviet Union, after which he would "exterminate" all of the Jews and Communists in Russia.[10]:203 Ungern-Sternberg intended to revive the Mongol Empire as he believed that West was corrupt and degenerate, and needed to be destroyed by a pan-Asian army under his leadership.[10]:187-189 Ungern-Sternberg's army included Russian, Mongol, Buryat, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese units, which he invaded the Soviet Union with later in 1921. The exceptionally sadistic Ungern-Sternberg regarded extreme violence as spiritually cleansing based on his understanding of Buddhism, and believed the world needed a bloodbath to undergo a spiritual regeneration.[10]:141-142 & 185-186 On 22 August 1939, Adolf Hitler during a meeting with his senior generals praised Genghis for having "had millions of women and children killed by his own will and with a gay heart", and told them that Genghis was to an example to be followed for the war that they were about unleash in Poland.[21] More recently, there have been attempts to rebrand Genghis as a Chinese hero.[10]:252 James Palmer wrote a local Chinese Communist Party boss in Inner Mongolia had told him in 2003:"'Genghis was born in Mongolia, he said, 'but he was Chinese. He loved China, like we all love China'."[10]:252 Palmer sarcastically wrote in response: "Genghis loved the Chinese so much that he killed about ten million of them, and seriously considered burning every city in northern China to the ground to create a vast grassland for his horses".[10]:252

The Yellow Peril painting, which Wilhelm was so proud of, was taken very seriously in Japan, and led to a marked decline in German-Japanese relations.[8]:86-87 During a visit to London, the Japanese statesmen Itō Hirobumi viewed the painting, and was heard remarking that this was an extremely important sign of the Kaiser's malice towards Japan.[8]:86 In his turn, Wilhelm's anti-Asian phobia led him to strongly support Russia during the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-05 as he took the viewpoint that the war was just the beginning of the great "race war" that he had been predicting since 1895.[8]:88 Until the Triple Intervention and the Yellow Peril painting, Japanese public opinion had greatly admired Germany, and the Kaiser's actions were received with complete shock by the Japanese.[8]:81-82

File:Kuropatkin by Repin.jpg
General Aleksey Kuropatkin, the Russian Minister of War, and the principle champion of a Russian forward policy in the Far East, who often used the term Yellow Peril to justify Russian expansionism in Asia

For their part, many Russians shared the fear of the Yellow Peril (zheltaia opasnost), with these fears being especially common amongst the Russian elite.[22] Russian journalists often warned that the Chinese were a huge "yellow torrent" that threatened to crash over Siberia, while Nicholas II, who had a particular hatred of the Japanese, always referred to them in private as the "yellow monkeys".[22] In the early years of the 20th century, Nicholas's "Eastern strategy" was based on the idea to protect Siberia from an "incoming wave" of Chinese immigrants, Russia would have to settle millions of Russians in the Far East.[23] Starting around 1900, Prince Esper Ukhtomsky started to promote the doctrine of Russia's "special mission" in the Far East, namely that Russia had the "duty" to bring the most of the Far East under its rule, though Ukhtomsky justified this under the grounds that Russia was an Asian nation that needed to unify Asia against the "threat" of the West.[16]:664-665 A major worry for Russians officials were the large number of Chinese living in Siberia, whom were felt to be a threat to Russian rule there, and led to the Russians imposing various discriminatory laws against them.[24] General Aleksey Kuropatkin, the Russian Minister of War and the leader of a clique at the Russian court committed to the idea of Russian expansion in Asia and portrayed the rising power of Japan in the early 20th century and Japanese imperialist ambitions in Manchuria and Korea (both of which Kuropatkin coveted for Russia) as the first step of the "Yellow Peril" that Russia had to stop.[10]:21 Kuropatkin often justified his imperialist plans for East Asia as part of Russia's "special mission" to stop the "Yellow Peril". During the Russian-Japanese war, which was fought mostly in Manchuria, Russian troops routinely looted and burned Chinese villages, raped the women and killed all who resisted or who were just in the way.[25]:84 The Russian justification for all this was that Chinese civilians, being Asian, must had been helping their fellow Asians Japanese inflict defeat on the Russians, and therefore deserved to be punished.[25]:84 Even after Russia's defeat at the hands of Japan, Kuropatkin remained committed to a forward policy in the Far East, albeit a less aggressive one than before 1904. Kuropatkin wrote in 1913 that "in the future, a major global war could flare up between the yellow race and the white...For this purpose, Russia must occupy north Manchuria and Mongolia...Only then will Mongolia be harmless".[10]:57 Kuropatkin's remarks about rendering Mongolia "harmless" partly reflected Russian folk memories of the Mongol conquest of Russia in the 13th century, and partly reflected his fear of the vast Chinese immigration into Inner Mongolia and Manchuria which was soon to give both regions a Han majority, which he viewed as "the first blow of the yellow race against the white".[10]:57

The German Emperor Wilhelm II, 1902. Wilhelm coined the phrase the "Yellow Peril" in 1895 after having a dream, which inspired the painting the Yellow Peril.

Through very popular, the Yellow Peril theory was not universally accepted. The French writer Anatole France wrote that the Yellow Peril ideology was the sort of thing one would expect from the racist, hate-filled mind of the Kaiser, and inverting the entire premise of the Yellow Peril, argued in an essay that given the tendency of European nations to gobble up other people's countries in Asia and Africa that it was the "White Peril" that was the real threat to the rest of the world.[5] Another critic was the British writer Demetrius Charles Boulger who in 1904 published an essay entitled "The Bogey of the Yellow Peril" argued that the entire Yellow Peril theory was just racist hysteria.[5] Boulger wrote: "The prospect placed before the uninstructed reading public is a revival of the Hun and Mongol terrors, and the names of Attila and Genghis are set out in the largest type to create feelings of apprehension. The reader is assured in the most positive manner that this is the doing of the enterprising nation of Japan."[26]:225 Boulger wrote presciently that the real target of the Yellow Peril propaganda put out by the German government was not Japan or China, but Britain.[26]:225 Within Germany, the concept of the Yellow Peril was often in the words of the Japanese historian Iikura Akira the "subject of amusement" with cartoonists caricaturing the Yellow Peril painting as ridiculous and absurd.[8]:86-87 In December 1895 the German humorous magazine Der Wahre Jacob lampooned the Yellow Peril painting with a cartoon telling "Policemen of Europe" to defend their "dearest goods" (bags of gold); in the cartoon the Kaiser addresses a group of thugs wearing the uniforms of the various European police forces while pointing to the menace that threatens them all; a topless goddess of Liberty in the sky under whom millions of ordinary Europeans march in her wake, bringing freedom, peace, democracy, equality, prosperity and social reform.[8]:86-87 In May 1904, August Bebel, the leader of German Social Democrats declared in a speech that he hoped that Japan would defeat reactionary Russia as a Russian defeat might very well led to a revolution which would topple the Romanov monarchy, and bring socialism to Russia.[8]:89 From a completely different angle from Bebel, General Baron Colmar von der Goltz criticized the Yellwow Peril. Goltz who commanded the German military mission in the Ottoman Empire between 1883-1895 in series of letters to his Ottoman protégés expressed much respect for Asian peoples, especially the Japanese writing in 1905:“The East is beginning to awake; once it is awakened, it will not go to sleep again”.[27]:29 Goltz believed that the European era of dominance would come to a close in the 20th century, pointing to the rise of new powers like the United States, Japan and eventually China.[27]:28 Stressing that these were his own views, not those of the German government, Goltz speculated how sometime in the future a war would begin between the “yellow race” of the Japanese, Chinese and Mongols against the “Anglo-Saxon” powers, the United States and Great Britain.[27]:29 Goltz argued that neither Germany nor the Ottoman Empire could remain indifferent to this war, and it was necessary that Germany learn to understand “the rising peoples of East Asia”.[27]:29 Goltz who was an intense Anglophobe who looked forward to the day when Germany went to war with Britain for world domination seemed to have envisioned a German-Japanese-Ottoman alliance against the British Empire.

Yellow Peril fears were often expressed in many Western nations, but Germany was unique in that from 1895 onwards, "defending" Europe from the alleged Yellow Peril was the official policy of the state, and supposedly everything the Reich did in foreign policy was driven by an idealistic desire to save the West.[28]:210 On 9 September 1904, Wilhelm wrote up a long memo to his diplomats warning that the Japanese would soon take control of China, and after that a "race war" would break out between the "white race" and the Asians with the additional warning that the Japanese Navy would soon assault Heligoland, Kiel and Kronstadt.[29]:272-273 In his Christmas message to his subjects in 1904, Wilhelm engaged in what his biographer John C. G. Röhl called his "madcap racist ideology" by stating that the Russian-Japanese war was a "racial question" that concerned all whites and warned that the Chinese and Japanese governments were deliberately "flooding" the West with immigrants to deprive whites of their jobs as a part of a plot to cause the economic collapse of the West.[29]:273 Wilhelm was sincere in his belief in the "Yellow Peril" and his passionate hatred of Asian peoples, who he routinely referred to variously as "yellow apes", "yellow ruffians", "yellow dogs" and "yellow devils", but there was an ulterior motive to his relentless promoting of the "Yellow Peril".[28]:210 The chief aim of German foreign policy under Wilhelm was winning Weltpolitik, where Germany would become the world's dominant power.[30] Wilhelm and his circle had truly vast ambitions for the Reich desiring a "Napoleonic supremacy" in Europe, to annex the Yangtze river valley in China, to colonize much of Africa, to conquer Latin America, and even going so far to draw up plans for the invasion of the United States.[29]:214 To this achieve this, Germany had the Tirpitz Plan of building a powerful navy to challenge Britain; for the purposes of propaganda, it was convenient to claim the High Seas Fleet was meant to combat the Yellow Peril rather admitting its real purpose of challenging Britain. The German historian Ragnhild Fiebig-von Hase wrote about Weltpolitik and the Tirpitz plan that "...the ultimate aim of this strategy was to depose England as the leading sea power".[31]:160 In 1907, during a visit to Britain Wilhelm made what Röhl called the "absurd claim" that the Tirpitz plan was directed against the Japanese, saying: "I foresaw the danger of the Yellow Peril twenty years ago and that is why I built my fleet-just to be ready to lend a helping hand".[29]:597 The British were not fooled, and the Tirpitz plan led to the Anglo-German naval race of the early 20th century. Wilhelm believed the Yellow Peril fear would disrupt international relations, and would lead to a German-American alliance against Japan, which in turn would be converted into anti-British alliance.[30] In addition, Wilhelm knew very well his cousin Nicholas II of Russia shared his anti-Asian prejudices, and believed that on the basis of anti-Asian racism he could at very least persuade Nicholas to abrogate the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894, and form a German-Russian alliance that would be nominally anti-Asian, but in fact anti-British.[32]:120-123 The German historian Ragnhild Fiebig-von Hase wrote that: "Wilhelm II's deliberate use of the 'yellow peril' slogan was more than a personal idiosyncrasy and fitted into the general pattern of German foreign policy under his reign, i.e to encourage Russia's Far Eastern adventures and later to sow discord between the United States and Japan. Not the substance, but only the form of Wilhelm II's 'yellow peril' propaganda disturbed the official policy of the Wilhelmstrasse".[33]

To this end, Wilhelm encouraged Nicholas in his forward policy in the Far East, writing in January 1904 a letter to the Czar stating that "Korea must and will be Russian".[32]:121 Nicholas had a deep hatred of Asians, and often used the derogatory anti-Semitic term zhyd ("Yid"-through "kike" might be a better translation) as a term for the Japanese; given the extent of Nicholas's obsessive anti-Semitism, this was a quite an insult from the Czar.[34] Nicholas's three pet hates were the British, the Asians and the Jews, and he often made the remark that: "An Englishman is a zhid (Yid)".[35]:48 Nicholas who been wounded by an assassination attempt during a visit to Japan in 1891 liked to call the Japanese "yellow monkeys", and took it for granted that Russia had the right to conquer the entire Far East.[35]:48[36] Wilhelm often wrote to Nicholas to tell him that was "Europe's savior" against the "yellow peril", and in conquering East Asia the Russians were only doing the work of God.[31]:165 In his turn, Nicholas believing he had the support of the Reich proceeded with his forward policy in the Far East.[35]:116 Nicholas's plans to add Manchuria and Korea to his empire clashed with the Japanese plans to add Manchuria and Korea to their empire. Seeing their independence threatened by both Russia and Japan, many Koreans repeated the traditional lamentation that: "When two whales fight, the shrimp get crushed". Wilhelm hoped that the war with Japan would bring Nicholas's hatred of Asians to the boiling point, and on the basis of a common hatred of Asians would create an alliance between Germany and Russia.[31]:165 The French, who been Russia's closest allies since 1894, made it clear that they disapproved of Nicholas's forward policy in Asia with the French Premier Maurice Rouvier publicly declaring that the Franco-Russian alliance applied only to Europe, not Asia, and that France would remain neutral if Japan attacked Russia.[29]:252-253 In the eyes of the Wilhelmstrasse, the French attitude towards Russian expansionism in Asia created an excellent opening for Germany.[29]:252-253 In private, Wilhelm blasted Nicholas for "damaging the monarchial principle through his shilly-shallying", adding that the "yellow race" would at the gates of Moscow if the Russians continued to lose to the Japanese.[32]:122

Better yet, Wilhelm believed that the Auswärtiges Amt could use the fear of the Yellow Peril to recreate the Triple Intervention of 1895 on a permanent basis to form an anti-British "continental bloc" of France, Germany and Russia.[37] The "continental bloc" was intended to be the basis of making Germany the world's dominant power at the expense of Britain.[38] Since Britain was supporting Japan against Russia, this had brought out Nicholas's Anglophobic streak, and it would was believed in Berlin that a German-Russian alliance would soon be formed.[32]:127,130 The plans for a "continental bloc" came to naught as Nicholas would not sign an alliance with Germany unless the French agreed to join.[32]:127 Through Nicholas did greatly appreciate German help during the war with Japan, the fact that the Germans demanded as the price of that help a commercial treaty in November 1904 that was highly unfavorable to Russia to a considerable extent undercut that goodwill, and led many Russian policy-makers to fear for Russia's future in the proposed German-dominated "continental bloc".[32]:126 Nicholas wrote to Wilhelm saying he only signed the treaty that was so unfavorable to his empire to express his thanks for the Germans who had been "real friends" as his country was battling Japan.[32]:126 Moreover, Nicholas disliked Wilhelm, stating after one summit that the Kaiser was "raving mad".[32]:123 Beyond that, Nicholas believed that he was honor-bound by the Franco-Russian alliance which had been signed by his father.[32]:136-137 The French government for their part made it clear that since the proposed "continental bloc" was really directed against Britain, not Japan that they would not join the bloc as that mean violating the recently signed Entente Cordiale of April 1904, which had settled all outstanding Anglo-French disputes.[32]:136 In November 1904 after the Dogger Bank incident brought Russia and Britain to the brink of war, Nicholas received a telegram from Wilhelm suggesting an anti-British "continental bloc" be formed, and Nicholas wrote back impulsively saying he agreed "that Germany, Russia and France should at once unite upon an agreement to abolish Anglo-Japanese arrogance and insolence".[32]:127 The proposed treaty was stillborn when the French Foreign Minister Théophile Delcassé declared that France would not join, and as Nicholas would not join unless the French did, the proposed treaty died.[32]:127

In January 1905 there occurred the "Bloody Sunday" massacre in St. Petersburg when Russian soldiers shot down hundreds of peaceful demonstrators bringing a petition to Nicholas asking for social reforms. The massacre led to the Revolution of 1905 breaking out in Russia. With most of the Russian Army in Manchuria fighting the Japanese, Nicholas lost control of much of his empire, and his government did not fully regain control until April 1906. In March 1905, Germany launched the First Moroccan Crisis that brought Germany and France to the brink of war. The British historian Roderick McLean wrote that "The German strategy in the crisis was designed to convince the French that their new agreement with Britain was without value, by demonstrating that London could not save France from the threat of a German invasion."[32]:130 Once the French learned that the Entente Cordiale was worthless, it was expected in Berlin that the French would join the anti-British "continental bloc".[32]:130 By April 1905 with his empire going up in revolution and given the fact that Russians had lost every battle on land and sea to the Japanese, Nicholas was considering making peace. To keep Russia embroiled with Japan, Wilhelm sent his younger brother Prince Heinrich of Prussia to St. Petersburg bearing a message hinting that Germany might intervene in the war; the hope of German intervention encouraged Nicholas to continue the war.[32]:128 In May 1905, U.S President Theodore Roosevelt was especially offended by Wilhelm giving "Yellow Peril" speeches in Wilhelmshaven and Strasbourg, which Roosevelt believed (correctly) were intended to encourage the Russians to be intransigent in the peace talks that Roosevelt was attempting to organize to end the Russian-Japanese war, and thus to sabotage the peace progress.[31]:167 In a speech on 13 May 1905, Wilhelm called the Japanese "the scourge of God" (a term traditionally used for Attila the Hun in Germany) and stated that: "now that Russia has shown itself too weak to resist the Yellow Peril, the task of checking this peril may fall on Germany".[8]:90 Even more damagingly Wilhelm tried to deny to Roosevelt that he had given those speeches, writing that these were "lies" by the British press, something that helped to convince Roosevelt that the Kaiser was not to be trusted.[31]:167 On 3 June 1905, Wilhelm did a volte-face on the Russian-Japanese war, and urged Nicholas to make peace with the Japanese and accept Roosevelt's offer of mediation.[31]:170 As the revolution continued to engulf Russia, Wilhelm started to fear that Nicholas might be overthrown; and if that happened, Germany's own restive working class might be inspired to follow the Russian example; even the Kaiser's fear of the Yellow Peril paled to his fear of losing his throne.[31]:170 In Washington, Roosevelt was alarmed when his close friend, the French Ambassador Jean Jules Jusserand told him that the French cabinet was badly divided and many cabinet ministers were advocating giving in to Germany on the Moroccan crisis and joining the anti-Asian "continental bloc".[31]:170-171 Roosevelt especially feared the prospect that if France joined the "continental bloc", then the French might cede the French Caribbean islands to the Reich, thereby allowing German naval bases in the New World. Roosevelt told Jusserand that if France joined the "continental bloc" , than the United States would seize the French Caribbean island rather see them transferred to Germany.[31]:170-171

On 24 July 1905, during a German-Russian summit Wilhelm was able to convince Nicholas-who as a result of losing the war with Japan and the revolution of 1905 was on the verge of a nervous breakdown-to sign the Treaty of Björkö that would have created a German-Russian alliance.[32]:130-131 During the Björkö summit, Wilhelm told Nicholas that since Italy and Austria were already allied to Germany that this was only the beginning as he expected France and all of the smaller European nations like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium to also join the "continental bloc".[39] Wilhelm believed that with all of the European states united in a German-led "continental bloc" that was in theory anti-Asian, but in reality anti-British to be the basis of making the Reich the world's greatest power.[32]:119-120 On 30 August 1905, the Russian Foreign Minister Count Vladimir Lamsdorf first learned of the Björkö treaty, and informed the Emperor that it was completely incompatible with the Franco-Russian alliance; Nicholas could be allied to Germany or France, but not both at once.[32]:135-136 Nicholas attempted to square the circle by asking the French to join the Björkö alliance. In the summer of 1905 with Germany openly threatening to attack France, this was not the best time to ask the French to join an anti-British German-Russian "continental bloc". The French premier Maurice Rouvier told the Russian ambassador Aleksandr Nelidov when asked about joining the proposed "continental bloc" that French public opinion would never accept an alliance with Germany against Britain.[32]:136 The French rejection killed the Björkö treaty. The Russian government was heavily dependent upon French loans in order to function, especially after the war with Japan and the Revolution of 1905.[32]:136-137 The German money markets were not prepared to lend to Russians on anywhere the same scale as the French money markets, and thus for economic reasons Nicholas literally could not afford to lose the friendship of French banks.[32]:137 Beyond that, the Franco-Russian alliance was between two more or less equal states while in the proposed "continental bloc" Russia was clearly going to Germany's subordinate, something that Nicholas would never accept once it was explained to him just what exactly the "continental bloc" entailed.[32]:138 In September 1905 Wilhelm ordered the German naval attaché George Hebinghaus in Washington to deliver a copy of the Yellow Peril painting to Roosevelt together with a letter from the Kaiser warning about the "Yellow Peril", British treason against the "White Race" by supporting Japan and the "future fight for life and death between the White+Yellow".[31]:155 At that point, the German Ambassador Count Hermann Speck von Sternburg had to intervene to prevent Hebinghaus from delivering the letter and painting to Roosevelt, warning that the letter and painting were extremely likely to offend the President.[31]:156 Instead of pushing Britain and France apart as planned, the First Moroccan Crisis pushed the British and French closer together with Britain warning Germany that if the latter attacked France, Britain would go to war with the Reich.[40] Across the Atlantic, Roosevelt-who viewed the "continental bloc as a threat to the U.S-quietly came out in the support of the French while at the same time working for a face-saving way for Germany to back down.[31]:170-174 The crisis ended with a diplomatic defeat for Germany with the Algeciras Conference of 1906 deciding in favor of France.[31]:174

After the First Moroccan Crisis in 1905, where the United States sided with Britain and France against Germany, Wilhelm believed it was the unofficial alliance between the sea-powers of Britain and the U.S that was blocking Germany's claims of becoming a world power.[41]:1454 As the Anglo-German naval race continued with ever greater speed in the first years of the 20th century, Berlin become convinced that the key to winning the race given the greater size of the British ship-building industry was an alliance with the United States as British shipyards could not possibly hope to win naval races with the United States and Germany simultaneously.[41]:1456 Beyond that, an alliance of the United States and Germany could dominate the world. The rise of American-Japanese rivalry following Japan's victory over Russia in 1905 was seen as a possible opening for a German-American alliance.[41]:1457 After the war, the Japanese who had occupied Korea in 1904 turned Korea into a protectorate (to be annexed in 1910) while gaining special rights in southern Manchuria. The Japanese made it clear that they were displeasured by what the Port of Portsmouth had given them, and wanted all of China to be in their exclusive sphere of influence. The United States by contrast was committed to the "open door" while upholding China's independence and territorial integrity. As a result, the once friendly relations between Washington and Tokyo became strained and hostile over China. The Japanese had taken enormous losses in the war with Russia, and the costs of the war had almost bankrupted them, which explains why the Japanese signed the compromise Treaty of Portsmouth as they were rapidly running out of both men and money. The Japanese public not being aware of these aspects of the war saw the Treaty of Portsmouth as a betrayal, believing that they had the right to annex Korea, Manchuria and Siberia. After the Portsmouth treaty was signed in September 1905, anti-American riots broke out in Japan with American flags being burned in the streets and mobs cursing Roosevelt as the man who allegedly cheated the Japanese out of their fruits of victory over Russia. The immediate source of tension however emerged when the Japanese demanded in 1906 that the San Francisco school board stop racial segregation in regards to the children of Japanese immigrants. As a result, a huge wave of anti-Japanese feelings and "Yellow Peril" fears had swept across the United States, and the crisis was only ended by the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907.[42]:482-483 President Roosevelt in a speech praised Japan as "one of the greatest of civilized nations" and asked that the San Francisco school board allow the Nisei to attend the same schools as whites.[42]:483 The white supremacist Senator Benjamin Tillman warned on the floor of the Senate that if "Mongolian" children went to the same school as whites, it would be the end of American civilization while Senator George C. Perkins demanded war with Japan rather seeing integrated schools.[42]:483 As the Japanese government used threatening language in the diplomatic notes protesting the exclusion of the Nisei from the schools, there was a "war scare" in the United States in 1906-07 about the possibility of a war with Japan.[42]:483-484 In a letter to Edward Grey Roosevelt wrote that the "race question" in California was "an immediate source of danger", and he was going to ask Congress for a bigger naval budget to allow the U.S. to fight a possible war with Japan.[42]:485 Britain and Japan had signed an alliance in 1902, so any anti-Japanese German-American alliance would almost certainly become an anti-British alliance as well. In the early years of the 20th century, Wilhelm continued to warn anyone who would listen about the Yellow Peril. In a 1907 letter to Nicholas II, Wilhelm wrote that British newspapers "had for the first time used the term Yellow Peril from my picture, which is coming true!" (emphasis in the original).[11]:204 In the same letter, Wilhelm claimed that 10, 000 Japanese soldiers had arrived in Mexico with the aim of seizing the Panama Canal, and that the Japanese "were going in for the whole of Asia, carefully preparing their blows, and against the White Race in General! Remember my picture, it's coming true!".[11]:204 Also in 1907, Wilhelm sent a message to U.S President Roosevelt, predicting the coming "race war", and offered to sent German troops to protect the West Coast of the United States from the Japanese, who Wilhelm claimed would soon be invading the U.S; President Roosevelt politely refused the offer.[11]:204

It took the German diplomats a long time to tell Wilhelm that Roosevelt was a Japanophile who was not impressed with Wilhelm's call for an alliance based on anti-Asian racism.[31]:166 In private, Roosevelt often expressed disgust with the Kaiser's speeches warning about the "Yellow Peril".[31]:152 In the same 1907 letter to Roosevelt offering to sent German troops to protect the U.S from Japan, Wilhelm also advised Roosevelt to use the deployment as a chance to invade Canada, something that Wilhelm knew well would cause an Anglo-American war.[28]:210 Additionally, German diplomats tried to use the Yellow Peril fear to stir up American-Japanese antagonism via such tactics like bribing American journalists to print articles saying that Japan and Mexico had signed a secret anti-American alliance, a tactic that backfired badly when the U.S government discovered the source of the story.[41]:1465-1466 In July 1908 in an interview with the American journalist William Bayard Hale with the aim of influencing American opinion towards an alliance with the Reich, Wilhelm stated:

"So I painted the Yellow Peril. I dare say the world smiled. The world does not smile now. The time for smiling has passed. Everybody understands what must come to pass between the East and the West, the yellow race and the white race. It is imbecile folly for us to close our eyes to the inevitable. We would be unworthy of our fathers if we are negligent of the sacred duty of preserving the civilization which they have achieved for us and the religion of God has given us. All the world understands that the greatest contest in the destiny of the world's population is at hand".[29]:624

Wilhelm told Hale that Britain was a process of economic decline and racial degeneration; the British were seeking to destroy the rising power of Germany before their own power was eclipsed; as such the British had allied themselves with the Japanese, who in their turn would soon conquer China and lead all the masses of Asia against the "white race"; and the Germans and Americans had to join forces to stop the Anglo-Asian menace before it was too late.[29]:623-624 During the Hale interview, Wilhelm stated that "England is a traitor to the white man's cause".[26]:225 During the same interview, Wilhelm called the Japanese "devils" intent upon destroying "white civilization", and stated that China needed to colonized by the United States and Germany for its own good.[29]:625 The leader of this alleged conspiracy to destroy the white race was King Edward VII, whom the anti-Semitic Wilhelm darkly noted had many Jewish friends; according to Hale, Wilhelm was "very bitter" against his uncle and: "He seemed full of electricity and his eyes snapped when he spoke of England".[29]:623 Despite his dire warnings about the future "race war", the Kaiser ended his interview on a cheerful note, saying: "Oh! It will come out all right!...The future belongs to the white race; it does not belong to the yellow nor black nor olive-colored. It belongs to the blonde man and it belongs to Christianity and Protestantism. We are the only people who can save it".[29]:624

The Hale interview with the Kaiser speaking of an "inevitable" war between Germany and Britain for masterly of the world was considered so explosive that it was not published at the time; President Roosevelt asked American newspapers not to publish it out of the fear it would cause an Anglo-German war.[29]:623 However, copies of the Hale interview did circulate secretly amongst the capitals of the world: in Tokyo, it created the "worse possible impression"; in St. Petersburg, Nicholas was angered about the remarks about Slavs failing the entire white race by being incapable of defeating the Japanese; in Beijing, the idea that China needed to be colonized gave much offense; in Washington, it left Roosevelt with strong doubts about Wilhelm's sanity; in London, it led to harder line being adopted against Germany; and in Paris, the French Premier Georges Clemenceau demanded in a speech that the Hale interview be published so the entire world could see what a "menace" the Kaiser was to world peace.[29]:626-627

The German attempt to form an alliance with the United States based on a supposed shared fear of the Yellow Peril failed. The American government viewed industrialized Germany with its claims to Weltpolitik as a greater threat than semi-industrialized Japan with its claims to domination over China.[41]:1463 Furthermore, the U.S government knew very well that the recent war with Russia had nearly bankrupted Japan (a major reason why the Japanese had signed the compromise Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905) and the Japanese simply did not have the money to start a new war with any other country in the near-future.[41]:1463 Finally, before Wilhelm had started to warn of the Yellow Peril, he been warning of the amerikanische Gefhr (American peril) and continued to issue such warnings right up until 1902, claiming that the United States was out to take over the world, and the European states need to band together under German leadership to resist the alleged American threat.[31]:158-159 Given Wilhelm's prior anti-Americanism, American public opinion was hostile to the Reich in the first decade of the 20th century.[31]:159

In October 1914, a group of 57 noted German professors signed an appeal to the "civilized people of the world", portraying Germany as the victim of Allied aggression and containing the following passage:

"In the East the land is soaked with the blood of women and children butchered by the Russian hordes, and in the West our soldiers are being ripped apart by dumdum bullets. The nations with the least right to call themselves the defenders of European civilization are those which have allied themselves with Russians and Serbs and offer the world the degrading spectacle of inciting Mongols and Negroes to attack the white race".[43]

The reference to "Mongols and Negroes" attacking the "white race" was to the various Asian peoples serving in the Imperial Russian Army and to Africans in the French Army. In 1915, when Japan presented the Twenty-One Demands to China, which would have virtually converted China into a Japanese protectorate (something that offended both Britain and the United States), Wilhelm did a volte-face, and sought to use the ensuring crisis to form a German-Japanese alliance, opening secret talks with the Japanese in Sweden.[30] The Germans believed that the crisis caused by the 21 Demands would not only lead to Japan joining the Central Powers, but also neutralized any possibility of the U.S joining the war on the Allied side.[41]:1469 The fact that German diplomats were holding secret talks on attempting to have Japan switch sides, the very nation whose diplomats demonized for the last 20 years as the Yellow Peril proved that the German use of the Yellow Peril fear had more to do with power-politics rather genuine conviction.[30] The Zimmermann Telegram of 1917 was part of the same German effort to form an alliance with Japan against the Allies with the Mexican government being asked to join the war on the side of the Central Powers and to pass on a message requesting that Japan switch sides.[28] The Canadian historian Holger Herwig called Wilhelm's use of the Yellow Peril as a diplomatic tool incredibly "childish" and "inept".[28] Wilhelm changed his mind after his abdication in World War I, saying that he should not have bothered to warn Europe of the Yellow Peril, writing in 1923 that: "We shall be the leaders of the Orient against the Occident! I shall now have to alter my picture 'Peoples of Europe'. We belong on the other side! Once we have proved to the Germans that the French and English are not Whites at all, but Blacks...then they will set upon this rabble".[11]:13 He declared Germany as "face of the East against the West" instead of being in the west, and wished for the destruction of the western countries like Britain, France, and America, declaring the French to be "negroids", and stating his disgust at the racial equality Britain was allowing for blacks.[11]:210


Starting in the late 19th century, Invasion novels depicting an Asian invasion of Australia's "empty north" become very popular.[44] In the 1887 novel White or Yellow A Story of the Race War 1908 AD by the union leader and radical journalist William Lane, a "vast horde" of Chinese arrive in Australia and literally "over-ran everything".[44] White or Yellow first appeared in a serialized form in Lane's newspaper The Boomerang before being published as a novel.[45]:26 Reflecting his left-wing, Australian nationalist politics, Lane depicted a future history in his novel where wealthy British capitalists motivated only by greed start the mass importation of Chinese labor into Australia with no thought for common people of Australia, leading to a bloody "race war", where killing the Chinese "horde" is presented as a justified response on the part of white Australians.[45]:26-27 Sexual fears about Asian men were often expressed in the invasion novels as the Chinese invaders seduce and/or rape white Australian women with the aid of opium.[44] Sleeping with and/or being raped by the Chinese was portrayed as "a fate worse than death".[44] The most fiercest opposition to Chinese immigration came from Australian union leaders, who depicted the Chinese as not only an economic threat to the ability of white Australians to make a decent living, but also as a moral threat to Christian civilization, especially with regards to sex.[45]:24 The feminist and union activist Rose Summerfield warned in a series of speeches in the 1890s of the unnatural "lust" of Chinese men, who according to her were always looking upon white Australian women with "lewd eyes".[45]:24 In 1901, the White Australia policy was adopted. Australia's official World War One historian Charles Bean defined the intentions of the policy as "a vehement effort to maintain a high Western standard of economy, society and culture (necessitating at that stage, however it might be camouflaged, the rigid exclusion of Oriental peoples)."[46] One of the first Australian films, When Australia Calls, released in 1913 depicts an invasion by Mongolians who are defeated and destroyed by guerrilla resistance by ordinary Australians.[47] At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of a Japanese proposal for a Racial Equality Proposal for the envisioned League of Nations, arguing that a clause would open the door for Asian immigration to Australia.

South Africa

File:Punch 1903 - Chinese Paul.jpg
Punch cartoon, 1903, The Rand mine-owners' employment of Chinese labour was controversial and contributed to the Liberal victory in the 1906 elections.

Around 63,000 Chinese labourers were brought to South Africa between 1904 and 1910 to work the country's gold mines. Many were repatriated after 1910,[48][49] because of strong White opposition to their presence, similar to anti-Asian sentiments in the western United States during the same period. The mass importation of Chinese labourers to work on the gold mines contributed to the fall from power of the Conservative government in the United Kingdom, which was at the time responsible for governing South Africa after the Anglo-Boer War. However it did contribute to the economic recovery of South Africa after the Anglo-Boer War by once again making the mines of the Witwatersrand the most productive gold mines in the world.[50]:103

On the 26 March 1904 a demonstration against Chinese immigration to South Africa was held in Hyde Park and was attended by 80,000 people.[50]:107 The Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress then passed a resolution declaring that:

That this meeting consisting of all classes of citizens of London, emphatically protests against the action of the Government in granting permission to import into South Africa indentured Chinese labour under conditions of slavery, and calls upon them to protect this new colony from the greed of capitalists and the Empire from degradation.

— [51]

United Kingdom

In the 18th century, the Chinese were largely viewed favourably in Britain, being seen as a civilized, sophisticated people worthy of admiration and respect, but over the course of the 19th century, British views of the Chinese grew increasingly hostile, with the Chinese being portrayed as inherently depraved and corrupt.[52] There were a few exceptions such as William Ewart Gladstone who in a speech in May 1890 criticized anti-Chinese immigration laws in Australia saying the Chinese were being penalized for their proven "virtues" like hard work instead of supposed "vices".[45]:25 Another exception was King Edward VII. In 1904, during an Anglo-German summit in Kiel between Wilhelm II and Edward VII, Wilhelm with the Russian-Japanese war in mind started to rant about the "Yellow Peril", which he called: "...the greatest peril menacing...Christendom and European civilisation. If the Russians went on giving ground, the yellow race would, in twenty years time, be in Moscow and Posen".[53] Wilhelm went on to attack his British guests for supporting Japan against Russia, suggesting that the British were committing "race treason" by supporting Japan. In response, Edward stated that he "could not see it. The Japanese were an intelligent, brave and chivalrous nation, quite as civilised as the Europeans, from whom they only differed by the pigmentation of their skin".[53]

The phrase Yellow Peril was first used by a British newspaper on 21 July 1900 when the Daily News spoke of the “the yellow peril in its most serious form” in connection with the Boxer Rebellion.[52] At the same time, widespread Sinophobia in Britain did not translate into dislike of all Asians. During the Russian-Japanese War, France and Germany supported Russia while Britain supported Japan. British military observers to the war displayed a marked pro-Japanese bias against their traditional enemy Russia.[25]:91 One British observer, Captain Pakenham's "...reporting tended to depict Russia as his enemy, not just Japan's".[25]:91

The British historian Julia Lovell wrote in 2014:

"In the early decades of the 20th century, Britain buzzed with Sinophobia. Respectable middle-class magazines, tabloids and comics alike spread stories of ruthless Chinese ambitions to destroy the west. The Chinese master-criminal (with his “crafty yellow face twisted by a thin-lipped grin”, dreaming of world domination) had become a staple of children’s publications. In 1911, “The Chinese in England: A Growing National Problem” (an article distributed around the Home Office) warned of “a vast and convulsive Armageddon to determine who is to be the master of the world, the white or yellow man”. After the First World War, cinemas, theatres, novels and newspapers broadcast visions of the “Yellow Peril” machinating to corrupt white society. In March 1929, the chargé d’affaires at London’s Chinese legation complained that no fewer than five plays showing in the West End depicted Chinese people in “a vicious and objectionable form”".[54]

In popular imagination, the Limehouse district of London, where most of the Chinese in Britain lived was the centre of all sorts of depravity and vice like prostitution, opium smoking, gambling and things that were simply too dreadful to speak of.[52][54] British newspapers routinely warned their readers of the dangers of miscegenation, using the example of British women marrying Chinese men as proof of the racial threat posed by China to Britain, or more commonly warning that Triad gangsters were kidnapping British women into White slavery.[55] When World War One began, in 1914 the Defence of the Realm act was amended to include opium smoking as a grounds for deportation as a pretext for providing a reason to start expelling people from London’s Chinatown.[55] The British historian Anne Witchard stated that the anti-Chinese hysteria in Britain during the First World War was a moral panic caused by the prospect that British women, who had developed greater economic independence because of the war, might engage in premarital sex, something that many in what was then a deeply conservative society found very shocking.[56] These fears were all projected onto to the Chinese community, who were allegedly "corrupting" British women into premarital sex.[56]

United States of America

In the USA, xenophobic fears against the alleged "Yellow Peril" led to the implementation of the Page Act of 1875, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, expanded ten years later by the Geary Act. The Chinese Exclusion Act replaced the Burlingame Treaty ratified in 1868, which encouraged Chinese immigration, provided that "citizens of the United States in China of every religious persuasion and Chinese subjects in the United States shall enjoy entire liberty of conscience and shall be exempt from all disability or persecution on account of their religious faith or worship in either country" and granted certain privileges to citizens of either country residing in the other, withholding, however, the right of naturalization.

The Los Angeles pogrom of 1871 marked the beginning of widespread violence against the Chinese in the American West. It is estimated that in the 1870s-1880s that about 200 Chinese were lynched in the American West.[57] In 1880, a pogrom in Denver saw the looting and destruction of the local Chinatown, which was burned down with one Chinese man lynched.[57] So common were the practice of lynching Chinese in the West that phrase "Having a Chinaman's chance" arose to mean no chance at all. On 2 September 1885 there occurred the Rock Springs massacre in Wyoming, yet another anti-Chinese pogrom committed by white miners who saw the Chinese miners as rivals which led to 28 deaths (all Chinese), 15 wounded, the expulsion of rest of the Chinese community, and property damage worth $150,000.[58] The Rock Springs pogrom led to a wave of anti-Chinese violence in the West in the fall of 1885-winter 1886. On 11 September 1885, there was an anti-Chinese pogrom in Coal Creek.[59] Also on 11 September there was an anti-Chinese attack in Squak Valley that left 3 Chinese workers dead. On 24 October 1885, the Chinatown of Seattle was party burned down and 3 November 1885 the Tacoma pogrom saw the entire Chinese community expelled.[60] On 6–9 February 1886, there occurred the Seattle pogrom that led to 200 Chinese being expelled due to an attack organized by the local Knights of Labor chapter. In 1887, between 10-34 Chinese were killed at the Chinese Massacre Cove in Oregon.

A Chinese immigrant named Sauum Song Bo wrote in an 1885 essay entitled "A Chinese View of the Statue of Liberty" that:

"Seeing that the heading is an appeal to American citizens, to their love of country and liberty, I feel my countrymen and myself are honored in being thus appealed to as citizens in the cause of liberty. But the word liberty makes me think of the fact that this country is a the land of liberty for men of all nations except the Chinese. I consider it an insult to us Chinese to call on us to contribute towards building in this land a pedestal for a statue of liberty. That statue represents Liberty holding a torch which lights the passage of those of all nations who come into this country. But are Chinese allowed to come? As for the Chinese who are here, are they allowed to enjoy liberty as men of all other nationalities enjoy it? Are they allowed to go about everywhere free from insults, abuse, assaults,, wrong and injuries from which men of other nationalities are free?"[61]

File:Dust jacket, first edition of The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy.jpg
First edition, 1920 of The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy

The Immigration Act of 1917 then created an "Asian Barred Zone" under nativist influence. The Cable Act of 1922 guaranteed independent female citizenship only to women who were married to "alien[s] eligible to naturalization".[62] At the time of the law's passage, Asian aliens were not considered to be racially eligible for U.S. citizenship.[63][64] As such, the Cable Act only partially reversed previous policies, granting independent female citizenship only to women who married non-Asians. The Cable Act effectively revoked the U.S. citizenship of any woman who married an Asian alien. The National Origins Quota of 1924 also included a reference aimed against Japanese citizens, who were ineligible for naturalization and could not either be accepted on U.S. territory. In 1922, a Japanese citizen attempted to demonstrate that the Japanese were members of the "white race", and, as such, eligible for naturalization. This was denied by the Supreme Court in Takao Ozawa v. United States, who judged that Japanese were not members of the "Caucasian race".

The 1921 Emergency Quota Act, and then the Immigration Act of 1924, restricted immigration according to national origins. While the Emergency Quota Act used the census of 1910, xenophobic fears in the WASP community lead to the adoption of the 1890 census, more favorable to White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) population, for the uses of the Immigration Act of 1924, which responded to rising immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as Asia. One of the goal of this National Origins Formula, established in 1929, was explicitly to keep the status quo distribution of ethnicity, by allocating quotas in proportion to the actual population. The idea was that immigration would not be allowed to change the "national character". Total annual immigration was capped at 150,000. Asians were excluded but residents of nations in the Americas were not restricted, thus making official the racial discrimination in immigration laws. This system was repealed with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

File:Yellow peril rupert.jpg
Cover of the third edition of G. G. Rupert's The Yellow Peril, depicting Uncle Sam in a sword fight with a stereotypical pigtailed "Chinaman".

It was extremely common in the early 20th century for proponents of the Yellow Peril theory to portray the United States as a clean, healthy "body politic" which was threatened by Asian immigrants who were a foreign "disease" within the U.S.[65]Template:Rp=237 Champions of the Yellow Peril concept often used the language of body penetration and of diseases to express their fears of Asian-Americans.[65]Template:Rp=237-238 Yellow Peril was also the title of a popular book by an influential U.S. religious figure, G. G. Rupert, who published The Yellow Peril; or, Orient vs. Occident in 1911. Based on the phrase "the kings from the East" in the Christian scriptural verse Revelation 16:12,[66] Rupert, who believed in the doctrine of British Israelism, claimed that China, India, Japan, and Korea were attacking England and the United States, but that Jesus Christ would stop them.[67] Rupert believed that all the "colored races" would eventually unite under the leadership of Russia, producing a final apocalyptic confrontation. In 1920, the Harvard historian Lothrop Stoddard published the book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, which warned that the non-white peoples would band together under the leadership of either China and/or Japan to destroy the West, and that this process had already started with the Japanese victory over Russia in 1905.[68] Typical of the yellow peril rhetoric was Stoddard's use of the water image of a rising tide flooding everything. The phrase "yellow peril" was common in the U.S. newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst.[69] In the early 1930s the Hearst newspapers waged a sustained campaign of vilification against an American Communist activist Elaine Black, who was denounced as the "Tiger Woman" for her open sexual relationship with a fellow Communist activist Karl Yoneda.[70] Black and Yoneda would have married in 1931, but the California law at the time outlawed inter-racial marriage, so it was until 1935 when they moved to Seattle did Black and Yoneda finally marry.[70] The campaign against Black had less to do with anything she was doing in particular and more to do with Hearst's calculation that the news that a white woman was having a sexual relationship with an Asian man would stir up outrage in his readers and increase the sales of his papers.

During the 1930s, there had appeared within certain circles in the United States an opposition to the popular Yellow Peril stereotypes, which was exemplified by popularity of the Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto novels and films.[71]:159 There was also the China Lobby of businessmen, intellectuals and Protestant missionaries who idolized Chiang Kai-shek as China's Christian savior (Chiang had converted to Methodism in 1927), and who pressured the neutral United States to aid China after the Japanese invasion began in 1937. Media coverage of the Sino-Japanese war tended to favor China.[71]:159 After Japan attacked the U.S in 1941 and China formally become an American ally, some within the American media began to criticize the various discriminatory laws against the Chinese and Chinese-Americans.[71]:165-166 Moreover, it was widely believed that once Japan was defeated that China would emerge as a major economic power under the leadership of Chiang (who made clear his disapproval of the anti-Chinese laws), and that American businesses would be shut out of the fabled "China market" that was anticipated after the war if the anti-Chinese laws continued to be on the books.[71]:171-172 In 1943, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was repealed by Congress, but since the National Origins Act of 1924 was still in effect, the repeal was only a symbolic step.

According to the American science fiction writer William F. Wu, "pulp magazines in the 1930s had a lot of yellow peril characters loosely based on Fu Manchu" and that although "most were of Chinese descent", the geopolitics at the time led a "growing number of people to see Japan as a threat" as well. In his 1982 book The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American fiction, 1850-1940, Wu theorizes that the fear of Asians dates back to Mongol invasion in the Middle Ages during the Mongol Empire. "The Europeans believed that Mongols were invading en masse, but actually, they were just on horseback and riding really fast," he writes. Most Europeans had never seen an Asian before, and the harsh contrast in language and physical appearance probably caused more skepticism than transcontinental immigrants did. "I think the way they looked had a lot to do with the paranoia," Wu says.[72]

New Zealand

The "yellow peril" was a significant part of the policy platform promoted by Richard Seddon, a populist New Zealand prime minister, in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. He compared Chinese people to monkeys. In his first political speech in 1879 he had declared New Zealand did not wish her shores to be "deluged with Asiatic Tartars. I would sooner address white men than these Chinese. You can't talk to them, you can't reason with them. All you can get from them is 'No savvy'."[73] In 1905, Lionel Terry, a fanatical white supremacist murdered an elderly Chinese immigrant Joe Kum Yung, in Wellington to protest Asian immigration to New Zealand. Measures signed to curb Chinese immigration included a substantial poll tax, introduced in 1881 and lowered in 1937 following Imperial Japan's invasion and occupation of China. The poll tax was abolished in 1944 and for which the New Zealand government has since issued a formal apology.

Ottoman Empire

After the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, the Committee of Union and Progress achieved a dominant political position, later reinforced after the 1913 Raid on the Sublime Porte. The Unionists greatly admired Japan for modernizing while retaining its "Eastern spiritual essence" , and proclaimed their intention into making the Ottoman Empire into the "Japan of the Near East".[74] In an inversion of Western paranoia about the "Yellow Peril", the Young Turks often fantasised about creating an alliance with Japan that would unite all the peoples of "the East" to wage war against and wipe out the much hated Western nations that dominated the world, a "Yellow wave" that would wash away European civilization for good.[75]:54-55 For the Young Turks, the term yellow (which was in fact a derogatory Western term for East Asians, based upon their perceived skin color) stood for the "Eastern gold", the innate moral superiority of Eastern peoples over the corrupt West.[75]:53-54


Starting in the 1890s, the péril jaune (yellow peril) was often invoked in France, with unfavorable comparisons between drawn between low French birth rates and high Asian birth rates.[76] According, the fear was raised that eventually the Asians would "flood" France, and that the only way to prevent the Asian "flooding" of France was to raise the French birth rate to have enough manpower to fight off the coming Asian "flood".[76] During the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-05, the French media was overwhelming on the side of France's ally Russia.[77] The Russians were portrayed in the French press as heroically fighting for the entire "white race" against the péril jaune of the Japanese "barbarians".[77] In May 1904, the French journalist René Pinon wrote:

"The "yellow peril" has entered already into the imagination of the people, just as represented in the famous drawing of the Emperor Wilhelm II: in a settling of conflagration and carnage, Japanese and Chinese hordes spread out over all Europe, crushing under their feet the ruins of our capital cities and destroying our civilizations, grown anemic due to the enjoyment of luxuries and corrupted by the vanity of spirit. Hence, little by little there emerges the idea that even if a day must come (and that day does not seem near) the European peoples will cease to be their own enemies and even economic rivals, there will be a struggle ahead to face and there will rise a new peril, the yellow man. The civilized world has always organized itself before and against a common adversary: for the Roman world, it was the barbarian; for the Christian world, it was Islam; for the world of tomorrow, it may well be the yellow man. And so we have the reappearance of this necessary concept, without which peoples do not know themselves, just as the "Me" only takes conscience of itself in opposition to the "non-Me": the enemy".[6]:124

Despite their professed claims that French civilization was a universal civilizing force, right from the beginning in 1859 the French ruled their colony of Vietnam with an iron hand with the Vietnamese being seen as something less human, and therefore not deserving of human rights.[78]:67-68 During the Indochina war of 1945-54, the French often justified the war as part of the struggle to defend the West against the péril jaune of the Vietnamese Communists, who were always portrayed as mere puppets of the Chinese Communists in their drive to conquer the world.[79] Even before the war, many of the French had seen the Vietnamese as not quite human, and during la sale guerre ("the dirty war") against the Viet Minh, French forces routinely committed war crimes such as extrajudicial executions, torture, needless destruction of property and mistreatment of POWs.[78]:74 During the war, the French press described the Viet Minh variously as "innombrables masses jaunes" ("innumerable yellow hordes"), "vagues hurlantes" ("roaring waves") and "masses fanatisées" ("fanatical hordes").[80]

According to the French writer Gisèle Luce Bousquet, the concept of the péril jaune, which had traditionally colored French attitudes towards Asians, especially the Vietnamese is still in effect today, albeit in more subtle ways than in the past.[81] Franco-Vietnamese are resented for being perceived academic over-achievers who are taking away good-paying jobs from the "native French", and for allegedly "taking over" entire fields such as computer science.[81] In January 2015, a French magazine Fluide Glacial published on its cover a cartoon of a sad Frenchman pulling a rickshaw carrying a Chinese man dressed in the style of 19th century French colonial officials with a barely dressed French blonde in tow in a Chinese-occupied Paris under the title "Yellow Peril Is it already too late?".[82][83] Yan Lindingre, the editor of Fluide Glacial stated in response to criticism that the cover was satirical, and was intended to mock the Yellow Peril fears held by many of the French that Chinese economic growth will destroy the French way of life, and that France will in the future be subjected to China.[83] In a newspaper co-op, Lindingre responded to attacks by the Chinese press by writing: “I have just ordered an extra billion copies printed and will send them to you via a chartered flight. This will help us balance our trade deficit and give you a good laugh.”[83]


During the Mexican Revolution, the Chinese communities in Mexico who were usually working there as miners were subjected to abuse from all various factions fighting for the control of Mexico in the revolution.[84]:44 The most notable act of anti-Chinese violence was the Torreón massacre of May 11–15, 1911 when over 300 Chinese were shot down in cold blood by rebel forces commanded by General Francisco "Pancho" Villa. The Torreón massacre was the most extreme act of anti-Asian violence in Mexico, but not the only one. In 1913, when Tamosopo was taken by the Constitutional Army, all of the buildings owned by Chinese immigrants were sacked and burned down.[84]:44 The British historian Alan Knight noted that all sides tended to single out the Chinese for "especially harsh treatment".[84]:279 During and after the revolution, Chinese Mexicans were widely disliked because of their supposed tendency to steal jobs from Mexicans. In Mexican anti-Chinese propaganda, the Chinese were painted as without hygiene, and responsible for vices such as opium smoking and gambling. They were blamed for spreading diseases, degenerating La Raza (the Mexican "race"), corrupting morals, inciting civil unrest and generally undermining Mexico’s social and political makeup. Their lack of assimilation was also attacked.[85] Another accusation was that Chinese men (and almost all Chinese immigrants in Mexico were men) had been stealing employment and Mexican women from Mexican men who had gone off to fight in the Revolution or in World War I.[86] In the 1930s, nearly 70% of the country Chinese and Chinese-Mexican population was deported or otherwise expelled out of the country in a programme of bureaucratic ethnic cleansing.[87]


Japan and Ethiopia, both being non-white powers in a world dominated by white powers had enjoyed a strong friendship from early years of the 20th century. During the run-up to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, initially the Japanese gave diplomatic support to Ethiopia. In response, Benito Mussolini had the Italian press waged a vitriolic Yellow Peril campaign against Japan, accusing the Japanese of attempting to create a "yellow-black alliance" by uniting all of the peoples of Asia and Africa against the whites.[88] Mussolini himself gave an interview in January 1935 warning darkly of the Japanese "Yellow Peril" and the dangers of an Asian-African alliance against Europe.[88] In the summer of 1935, there were frequent anti-Japanese demonstrations in Italian cities organized by the Fascist Party.[89] The anti-Japanese campaign in Italy stopped as suddenly as it started when the Japanese government promised not to support Ethiopia in exchange for Italian recognition of Manchukuo.[90]


In recent years, there has been very strong anti-Chinese feelings in Turkey owing to allegations of human rights abuses against the Muslim Turkic Uighur people in China's Xinjiang province.[91] At one anti-Chinese demonstration in Istanbul, a South Korean tourist was threatened with violence even she protested that “I am not Chinese, I am Korean”.[91] In response, Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the extreme right-wing Nationalist Movement Party stated: “How does one distinguish between Chinese and Koreans? Both have slanted eyes.”.[91]

Sexual fears

At the core of the Yellow Peril ideology was the sexual fear of Asians, who according to the Yellow Peril theory had an unnatural and perverse sexuality that was a mortal threat to white civilization.[4]:3 The intense horror shown by Yellow Peril proponents towards interracial sex was because the prospect of interracial sex meant the prospect of interracial children, which in turn meant the prospect of the annihilation of whitenesss itself; the much dreaded miscegenation.[71]:159 The fear of Asian sexuality sometimes took the form of the insatiable, lascivious, but dominating "dragon lady", who was a tempting, if degrading object of desire for white men.[92]:3 In this regard, one source commented that it is striking how often Asian women were portrayed in Western films as scheming prostitutes, forever seeking to use their sexuality to ensnare and enslave white men.[93] Perhaps the best known example of the Dragon Lady stereotype was the character of Ling Woo on the TV show Ally McBeal, portrayed as a deeply unpleasant, dominating woman with unusual sexual abilities provided by her Chinese heritage that no white woman could hope to match.[94] Gina Marchetti wrote in the Western imagination, Asia was associated with “…material opulence, moral laxity, sensuality, cultural decadence and exotic beauty, this seductiveness implies a peculiar spiritual danger and often a hidden threat to the Westerner…The fear springs from a desire or belief that Asia will entice, hypnotize, entrap and suffocate the Western traveler, who will masochistically give up his own identity to be engulfed by what Freudians might describe as a metaphoric womb-tomb”.[4]:67-68

A particularly extreme response to the Yellow Peril paranoia was put forward by the Austrian Baron Christian von Ehrenfels, who in a series of papers published between 1902-10 argued that the world was faced with a Social Darwinian struggle between different races, in which the Yellow Peril was winning.[95]:258 Ehrenfels argued the "white race" was being hindered by the institution of monogamy as it allowed for a genetically superior white man to father children by only one woman, and that the "yellow race" had a great advantage in polygamy as it allowed for genetically superior Asian men to father children by many women.[95]:258-261 In his essays in 1907-1908, Ehrenfels wrote that the Chinese lacked "all potentialities...determination, initiative, productivity, invention and organizational talent".[95]:263 While the Chinese were now a listless mass of allegedly mindless Asians, Ehrenfels wrote that Japan was "a first-rate military power", and should the Japanese conquer the Chinese, the Japanese would engage in selective breeding to create a race of "healthy, sly, cunning coolies, virtuosos of reproduction" in China.[95]:263 Once that happened, Ehrenfels warned that a vast Sino-Japanese army would set to conquer the world consisting of genetically superior soldiers whom the Western powers would be unable to stop.[95]:263 To solve this perceived problem, Ehrenfels argued for radical social changes where the state would take control of sexuality. Ehrenfels called for a new social order where white men would be allowed to father children only if they proved themselves genetically fit social "winners", and for instituting polygamy for these men.[95]:261-262 Women by contrast would be allowed only one husband at time.[95]:261-262 All women would be consigned to live in communal barracks where they would help each other raise children, and would be assigned a husband by the state, who would visit only for the purposes of sex.[95]:261-262 The number of wives any man could have would be determined by how successful he was, hence ensuring that the most successful men would pass on their genes to the most children.[95]:262 Furthermore, in Ehrenfels's proposed new society, romantic love would be done away with, and relations between men and women would be only sexual.[95]:262 To end the "Yellow Peril" once and for all, Ehrenfels suggested that the "white nations" brand together to conquer all the Asian nations before it was too late, and create a new world racial order with a hereditary, racially determined "caste system".[95]:264 In Ehrenfels's vision, whites would serve as the oligarchic "Aryan" military and intellectual castes and the Asians and blacks as the slave castes supporting the whites.[95]:264 At first, Ehrenfels believed this new society would only happen in the far-future, writing that "the Aryan will only respond to the imperative of sexual reform when the waves of the Mongolian tide are lapping around his neck".[95]:263 After Japan's victory over Russia in 1905, Ehrenfels wrote : "the absolute necessity of a radical sexual reform for the continued existence of the western races of man...has been raised from the level of discussion to the level of a scientifically proven fact".[95]:263

Along the same lines, the American historian Edward Ross Dickinson noted that for Baron Christian von Ehrenfels, the fear of the Yellow Peril was always expressed in water imagery; noting how Ehrenfels warned of a "flood" of Chinese coming to the West, that the Chinese were a "torrent of mud" in which Europe was drowning in, that the Japanese were a "polluting liquid", and that Europeans would not respond to this menace until the "waves" of Asians were up to their neck.[95]:271 The German historian Klaus Theweleit wrote that the same threatening water imagery was frequently used in the writings of Freikorps men during the interwar period, but only the threats were the Jews and the Communists (usually the same thing in these writings) rather than the Asians which threatened to subsume German men.[95]:271 Theweleit wrote that right-wing German men who had served in the Freikorps during the interwar period were obsessed with proving their masculinity by establishing their "hardness", and that the water imagery reflected their fear of women, the erotic, love, intimacy, and of dependence, all things that threatened to make them less than manly.[95]:271 Dickinson argued that men like Ehrenfels felt the same sexual anxieties about their masculinity as did the writers examined by Theweleit, but only he projected these anxieties onto the "Yellow Peril" rather than "Judeo-Bolshevism" .[95]:271

File:The Cheat 1915.jpg
Edith Hardy (Fannie Ward) and Hishuru Tori (Sessue Hayakawa) in The Cheat

More commonly Yellow Peril sexual fears were that of the Asian men corrupting white women via seduction and/or rape.[4]:3 The American culture critic Gary Hoppenstand wrote:

"The threat of rape, the rape of white society dominated the yellow formula. The British or American hero, during the course of his battle against the yellow peril, overcome numerous traps and obstacles in order to save his civilization, and the primary symbol of that civilization: white women. Stories featuring the Yellow Peril were arguments for white purity. Certainly, the potential union of the Oriental and white implied at best, a form of beastly sodomy and at worse, a Satanic marriage. The Yellow Peril stereotype easily become incorporated into Christian mythology, and the Oriental assumed the role of the devil or demon. The Oriental rape of white woman signified a spiritual damnation for the women, and at the larger level, white society".[92]:3

In the 1915 film The Cheat, the wealthy Japanese gentleman Hishuru Tori (Sessue Hayakawa) is portrayed as a sexual predator and a sexual sadist who menaces an American housewife Edith Hardy (Fannie Ward).[4]:19-23 Tori who is portrayed as superficially Westernized is revealed as a would be rapist, which reflects his true Asian identity.[4]:16-17 Tori is shown to be: "...brutal and cultivated, wealthy and base, cultured and barbaric, Tori embodies the contradictory qualities Americans associate with Japan".[4]:19 Initially, Tori is shown as "asexual" within the upper crust society of Long Island, but once Tori takes Hardy into his private study decorated with Japanese artwork, he is shown as having a "...brooding, implicitly sadistic sexuality...".[4]:21 At times, before he tries to rape her, the film hints that Hardy is in fact on some level attracted to Tori, an aspect that was heightened by the fact that Tori was played by Hayakawa (who was considered to be a sex symbol at the time), something that would have made him be seen as threat to the existing racial and sexual order by most white men in 1915.[4]:21-22 & 25.

File:Anna May Wong Shanghai Express.jpg
Anna May Wong as Hui Fei and Marlene Dietrich as Shanghai Lily in Shanghai Express

Even more typical of such portrayals was the Chinese warlord General Henry Chang (Warner Oland) in the 1932 film Shanghai Express, who is presented as being not only as Eurasian, but as having a menacing asexuality that places him outside of the conventionally defined world of Western sexuality and racial order, making him as dangerous to the Western characters who he has taken hostage as much as the fact that he is a vicious warlord.[92]:64 Though Chang is Eurasian, he takes pride in his Chinese heritage while rejecting his American heritage, which confirms his Eastern identity.[92]:64 War-torn China, circa 1931 is presented as a "hell", which a diverse group of Westerners must travel through on a nightmarish train trip from Beijing to Shanghai, which takes a turn for the worse when the train is hijacked by Chang and his men.[4]:61 The film strongly hints that Chang is bisexual, who not only wants to rape the heroine Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich), but also the hero Captain Donald "Doc" Harvey (Clive Brook).[92]:64 When the German opium smuggler Erich Baum (Gustav von Seyffertitz) insults Chang, the result is a scene where the warlord commits a symbolic rape, as the sadistic Chang clearly takes sexual pleasure in branding Baum with a red-hot poker.[92]:64-65 After he is branded, the once proud Baum becomes notably cowed and submissive towards Chang who in a certain sense now "owes" him, which reflected the ultimate Yellow Peril fear of Westerners becoming the slaves of the East and its perverted sexuality.[92]:65 Later on, Chang does actually rape Hui Fei (Anna May Wong).[92]:65 Gina Marchetti suggests that Chang's desire to blind Harvey is not only meant literally, but is also a metaphor for castration, which even under the more permissive Production code in effect in 1932 would have been a taboo subject.[92]:65 In a marked contrast to Chang's twisted sexuality and his "almost effeminate polish" , the British Army Captain Harvey is a resolutely heterosexual, ruggedly tough soldier with a deep romantic streak who more than amply proved his manliness in the trenches of World War I, presenting a model of Western masculinity and strength.[92]:64-65 At several times, the film hints that Shanghai Lily and Hui Fei are more than best friends, and are in fact engaged in a lesbian relationship, so when the film ends with Lily choosing Harvey as her lover, this serves as a testament to his manly Western sex appeal, which "redeems" her from her life as a prostitute.[4]:60-65 At the same time that Shanghai Express embraces Yellow Peril stereotypes through the character of Chang, it also to some extent undermines them through the character of Hui, who is shown crying inconsolably after being raped by Chang, which gives her a certain humanity and allows the audience to sympathize with her.[92]:65 Hui is a courtesan who is looked down upon by all Western characters except for her best friend Lily on the account of her race and profession, but she is shown as possessing dignity and a willingness to stand up for herself.[96]:232-234 Several scenes seemed to suggest that Shanghai Lily and Hui are more attracted to one another then either are to Captain Harvey, through this may be suggesting Hui's sexuality is not quite normal (most people in 1932 would considered bi-sexuality to be unnatural).[96]:232,236 The same criticism might be applied to Lily, but the film ends with Lily embracing heterosexual love by kissing Harvey while Hui walks off into the distance alone, sadder as a result of losing her best friend to Harvey and because she was raped, but otherwise unchanged. Finally, it is Hui who saves Harvey in the climax from being blinded/raped/castrated at the hands of Chang by killing Chang; Hui explains the killing as her way of regaining the self-respect that Chang had taken away from her.[96]:232,236-237

The East Asia studies professor Tim Thompson argued that the key factor behind the Yellow Peril was that of Asians have an all-consuming, devouring sexuality that threatens to destroy the West by enslaving its people. Thompson argued that the “perfect example” of such fear could be found in a 2007 graphic pornographic horror short story “The Fall: With A Whimper” by a Canadian horror writer published under the pseudonym Tantric Legion.[97]:2014 In the story, intelligent, hermaphrodite parasitical worms arrive in China from outer space, which are described as “sexual parasites” about 1 feet long and 3 inches in diameter in the story.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[98] The phallic-shaped worms in quasi-rape scenes penetrate into human bodies by forcing their way into vaginas and anuses, and then take over the minds of their victims.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The story concerns a pretty young schoolteacher in Jiuquan named Mei. An utterly terrified Mei spends the first half of the story attempting to avoid being infected, and after she herself is infected, sets out to infect the rest of humanity.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[99] Once infected, “Mei host” as she now calls herself considers herself to be a "good slave" whose only longing is to do the bidding of her “masters” as she affectionately calls the worms that control her mind and body, and whose "one fervent wish" is to create a “glorious new civilization”, where all humanity will be blessed by a “shared consciousness”.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The worms also transform the bodies of their victims, and Mei now endowed with “swollen breasts and a constant state of sexual arousal”, has no trouble seducing people, who she then infects.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> That the author regards Mei's transformation from a demure schoolteacher into a sex-crazed zombie as a positive change might reflect some issues on his part with Asian women.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> At the climax of the story, Mei seduces and infects the leader of China.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Having sex with Party Secretary Chen, "Mei host" releases some of the worms within her body, which crawl out of her vagina, and while the hapless Chen is held in place by a smiling Mei, the worms proceed to force their way into his body via his rectum.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Mei happily thinks that Chen's mind will be "subsumed" just as her mind was "subsumed".[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Once in control in China, millions of infected Chinese are sent out to infect the rest of humanity. The story ends with thousands of infected Chinese, all eerily silent and controlled by an inhuman collective intelligence, boarding planes at airports all over China to achieve the goal of subjecting humanity.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The infected Chinese are compared to insects, whose attacks on other countries are described as a "swarming".[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The story invokes much of the imagery associated with the Yellow Peril theory, albeit in a much more sexualized and literalized way than traditionally was the case "via a thin sci-fi plot device".[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The Yellow Peril theory often invoked images of flooding, invasion, swarming and body penetration, and of vast, mindless insect-like Asian masses controlled by a sinister intelligence.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[100] The story not only invokes the flood and bodily penetration imagery associated with the Yellow Peril theory, but also the classic Yellow Peril stereotype of the Chinese as a vast, inhuman horde with no real individual personalities overwhelming the rest of humanity.[97]This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Because the worms are hermaphrodites, the story invokes the Yellow Peril fear of ambiguous sexuality as well. In this case the Chinese literally are a foreign body within the world as their bodies and minds are controlled by extraterrestrial worms.

File:Nancy Kwan in The World of Suzie Wong (1960).jpg
Nancy Kwan as Suzie Wong, plying her trade in The World of Suzie Wong.

Another variant of concerns about Asian sexuality were expressed in romances between Western "white knights" and the Eastern "Lotus Blossom" characters. The “Lotus Blossom” characters were usually portrayed favorably enough, but the point of such characters are that they need the love of a white man to rescue them from their deeply flawed cultures.[92]:108-111 In the romances between the Western "White Knight" and Eastern "Lotus Blossom", the Asian heroine was portrayed favorably as an ultra-feminine model of female beauty and grace, but she almost always needed to be saved from her own people by a white man, reaffirming the moral superiority of the West.[92]:108-111 In the 1960 film The World of Suzie Wong, the Hong Kong prostitute Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan) is shown as a lost soul who is saved by the love of the American painter Robert Lomax (William Holden).[4]:123 Unlike Lomax's unpleasant, career-minded British girlfriend Kay O'Neill (Sylvia Syms), Wong is shown as more submissive and feminine than O'Neill, and who only works as a prostitute because of appalling poverty, which the film suggests is the natural condition of Asia.[4]:113-116 Hong Kong's economic take-off into an "Asian Tiger Economy" was only just beginning in 1959 when the film was shot. The contrast between Wong and O'Neill seems to be saying that if Western women want a man like Lomax, then they should emulate the passive Wong rather than the controlling O'Neill.[4]:116 Wong is so submissive and masochistic that in one sequence she “…proudly displays signs of a beating to her fellow hookers and uses it as evidence that her man loves her.” [101] Lomax needs Wong as his muse as her eroticism gives him the necessary inspiration to become the great painter he always wanted to be.[4]:120 Wong is an illiterate orphan who was the victim of childhood sexual abuse and is regularly abused by her mostly Chinese customers.[4]:113 That Lomax is portrayed as more enlightened and caring than both the male Chinese and the British characters suggests the moral superiority of the United States not only over Hong Kong society, but also over the decaying British Empire, implying that the Americans will be better custodians of Asia than the British ever were.[4]:115 When a British sailor tries to rape Wong, the chivalrous Lomax comes to the rescue and gives the would be rapist a good beating; all the while a number of Chinese men sat by listless, completely indifferent to the prospect of Wong being raped.[4]:115 Wong had a child by an unseen Chinese man whom she had a relationship with and who has abandoned her and their son, thereby emphasizing the casually cruel, uncaring nature of Hong Kong society.[4]:117 In contrast to the casual brutality that Chinese and British characters show towards Wong, the sensitive artist Lomax loves the "child-woman" Wong and saves her by giving her a new identity as his idealized, docile woman, whom he treats in a very paternal fashion.[4]:120-123 For almost the entire film, Wong wears a Chinese Cheongsam dress, but when she appears in Western clothing, Lomax rips off her dress, and tells her only to wear a cheongsam, emphasizing that Lomax is only prepared to accept Wong if she conforms to what his ideas about what a proper Asian woman should be like.[4]:121

In the 1989 opera Miss Saigon, Vietnam is portrayed as a mysterious, exotic, sensuous place yet full of incomprehensible savagery and incredible “filth”.[102]:34 The opening chorus of the first song The Heat's on Saigon begins with the lines: "The heat's on Saigon The girls are hotter 'n hell Tonight one of these slits will be Miss Saigon God the tension is high Not to mention the smell".[102]:34 The prostitute heroine Kim is portrayed as the “Lotus Blossom” archetype, the innocent but sexually available, frail, mysterious, demure and submissive Asian beauty whose life is defined by her love for a white man, in this case the American Marine Chris Scott.[102]:28-32 The fact that every single Vietnamese female character in Miss Saigon is a prostitute, all but one of whom are "Dragon Ladies" who parade their bodies in string bikinis confirms the popular Western stereotype of Asian women as being ultra-sexualized.[102]:31-32 The second act of the play, set in Thailand, portrays Thai women as all engaging in prostitution, which further reinforces the stereotype. Kim is the only woman at the Dreamland brothel who does not walk around all the time in a string bikini.[102]:32 The passivity and moral purity of Kim, who is utterly faithful towards Chris despite the fact that he abandoned her and their son in Vietnam and married an American women Ellen seems to be suggesting that the proper place of an Asian woman is to be subservient towards a white man.[102]:29 Despite her profession as a prostitute, the 17-year-old Kim is portrayed as a virginal innocent, in need of Chris's protection from the cruel world of Saigon.[102]:32 One of the songs Chris sings about Kim is addressed both to her and Vietnam, suggesting that Kim is Vietnam.[102]:31 The idealized and passive character of Kim, who is portrayed as being the true Vietnam stands in marked contrast to the male Vietnamese characters.[102]:31-33 Thuy, the Viet Cong man who wants to marry Kim is portrayed as violent, jealous, cruel and possessive and whose interest in Kim is purely exploitative as opposed to Chris’s love.[102]:34 The character of the vicious, sleazy pimp Tran Van Dinh aka the Engineer is a Eurasian man whose sexuality is “…simply incomprehensible, illegible, indeterminate, even as it is spectacularly displayed”.[102]:41 The American East Asia studies professor Karen Shimakawa described the Engineer as "...simultaneously lascivious, sexually exploitative, pansexual and desexualized".[102]:41 The Engineer had a French father and a Vietnamese mother, but throughout the opera it is always his “orientalness” that he displays.[102]:39 Shimakawa wrote “…the Engineer embodies an uncategorizable yet spectacular perversity-a condition that, the logic of the play suggests, is hereditary: it is the direct result of his racially and nationally mixed beginnings in prostitution and sexual debauchery”.[102]:41 Chris's best friend, the aptly named John is an African-American man who is an enthusiastic patron of the women of the Dreamland brothel, thereby playing to the stereotype of black men as having an unrestrained, lascivious sexuality.[102]:30 Unlike the romantic Chris, John sees the women of the Dreamland brothel only as sex objects, and is much given to crude, macho boosting about his sexual prowess.[102]:30-32 In contrast to these examples of flawed masculinity, the white Chris is portrayed as kind, gentle man with a genuine love and concern for Kim, who sings at one point: “I wanted to save her, protect her/Christ, I’m an American/How could I fail to do good?”.[102]:29


  • The Yellow Danger, a novel by M. P. Shiel, was published as a book by Grant Richards (London) in June 1898. From 5 February to 18 June it had been published in the magazine Short Stories under the name The Empress of the Earth.[103] It centers on the murder of two German missionaries in Kiau-Tschou in 1897 and features the Chinese villain, Dr Yen How.
  • Émile Driant, a French officer and right-wing Catholic political activist, wrote under the pen name of Capitaine Danrit The Yellow Invasion in 1905. The story depicts the surprise attack against the Western world by a gigantic Sino-Japanese army, covertly equipped with American-made weapons and secretly trained in the remote Chinese hinterland. The plot is hatched by a Japanese veteran of the Russo-Japanese War: coming out of the war with a fanatical hatred of Westerners, he organizes a world-spanning secret society named the Devouring Dragon in order to destroy Western civilization.
  • Jack London's 1910 story "The Unparalleled Invasion" is presented as an historical essay narrating events that occurred between 1976 and 1987. It describes a China with ever-increasing population taking over and colonising its neighbors, with the intention of eventually taking over the entire Earth. The nations of the West open biological warfare, bombarding China with dozens of the most infectious diseases—among them smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, and Black Death. All Chinese who attempt to flee are shot down by armies and navies massed around their country's land and sea borders, and the few survivors of the plague are put to death by expeditions entering China. This genocide is described in considerable detail with no mention of any objection to it. The terms "yellow life" and "yellow populace" appear in the story. It ends with "the sanitation of China" and its re-settlement by Westerners, "the democratic American programme" as London puts it.[104]
File:The Yellow Menace.jpg
September 1916 advertisement for The Yellow Menace, a film serial in which Asian villains threaten the heroine[92]:3
  • J. Allan Dunn's novel The Peril of the Pacific was serialised in the pulp magazine People's during 1916. It describes an invasion of the western United States by Japan in 1920, positing an alliance between Japanese immigrants in America and the Japanese navy. It reflects contemporaneous anxiety over the status of Japanese immigrants, 90% of whom lived in California, and who were exempt from anti-immigration legislation in accordance with the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907. The novel implies that the primary loyalty of America's Japanese immigrants was to their homeland.[105]
  • Philip Francis Nowlan's novella Armageddon 2419 A.D., which first appeared in the August 1928 and was the start of the long-lasting popular Buck Rogers series, depicted a future America which had been occupied and colonized by cruel invaders from China, whom the hero and his friends proceed to fight and kill wholesale.
  • Pulp author Arthur J. Burks contributed a series of eleven short stories to All Detective Magazine (1933–34) featuring detective Dorus Noel in conflict with a variety of sinister operators in Manhattan's Chinatown.
  • H. P. Lovecraft was in constant fear of Asiatic culture engulfing the world.[106] A few of his stories reflect this, such as The Horror At Red Hook, where "slant-eyed immigrants practice nameless rites in honor of heathen gods by the light of the moon", and He, where the protagonist is given a glimpse of the future—the "yellow men" have conquered the world, and now dance to their drums over the ruins of the white man.
  • Gung Ho! is a 1943 American war action film which presents a somewhat fictionalized account of the Makin Island raid led by Marine Colonel Evans Carlson in 1942. The Japanese are portrayed as ape-like creatures who neither give nor ask for mercy.
  • Peter George's novel Commander-1 (1965) features a villain named Comrade Li. Comrade Li, despite his name having only a thin veneer of Communism or Marxism, being rather a suave philosopher steeped in ancient Chinese learning—whose cold-blooded machinations bring about a nuclear holocaust in which nearly all humanity perishes (including China, which he sought to make great) and who eventually meets a suitable gruesome and ignominious end.
  • The 1992 Michael Crichton novel Rising Sun depicts Japanese corporations as secretly controlling the United States for their own advantage.
  • "Yellow Peril" is also the name of a song written and performed by Steely Dan founders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker before the first Steely Dan album, later released on various anthologies such as Becker and Fagen: The Early Years. The song includes various Asian motifs and references predating later Steely Dan and related works such as "Bodhisattva", "Aja", and "Green Flower Street".

Fu Manchu and kin

The Yellow Peril was a common theme in the fiction of the time. Perhaps most representative of this is Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu novels. Dr. Fu Manchu is an evil Chinese mad scientist/gangster out to take over the world, and being constantly foiled by the British policeman/spy Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and his assistant Dr. Petrie. The Fu Manchu character is believed to have been patterned on the antagonist of the 1898 Yellow Peril series by British writer M. P. Shiel. About the character of Dr. Fu Manchu, the British writer Jack Adrian wrote that Rohmer was :

"...a shameless inflater of a peril that was no peril at all (the "Yellow Peril") into an absurd global conspiracy.

He had not even the excuse (if excuse is the word) of his predecessor in this shabby lie, M.P. Shiel, who was a vigorous racist, sometimes exhibiting a hatred and horror of Jews and Far Eastern races. Rohmer's own racism was careless and casual, a mere symptom of the times. But he recognized other's people's fears and loathings, and tapped directly into them with his saga of the fiendish, and seemingly deathless, Dr. Fu Manchu, whose millions of minions were ever bidding their time, awaiting the order to inundate and subjugate the Western white races, and particularly the British Isles. Even more particularly, London, for at the heart of the Empire the teeming hordes of "heathen Chinese" swarmed like hyperactive rats around Limehouse Reach and Wapping Old Stairs, poised to flood the capital, turn its citizens into opium or cocaine addicts, and carry off the flower of British maidenhood to the stews of Shanghai.

This nonsense was believed more or less seriously by just about all classes, even though, as the sociologist Virginia Berridge has determined, the ethnic Chinese population of the Limehouse area-indeed, the whole of London's East End-in the period 1900 through to the Second World War ran to a few hundred at most, the majority of whom were engaged in respectable professions such as cooking and laundering (clothes, not money). As for narcotics, this was notably the province of "black" immigrants than "yellow" (the well-heeded Chinese restaurant-owner "Brilliant Chang" notwithstanding), most of the actual drugs coming from Germany, where cocaine production was virtually unregulated. And so far as white slavery went, it was to Buenos Aires that most of the young girls (dancers, usually lured by spurious advertisements in The Stage) traveled.

Nevertheless, with Fu Manchu and his strange cohorts and even more bizarre "pets" (monstrous spiders, lizards, hamadryads, batrachians unknown to science, murderous lepidopterae, Venus fly-traps capable of digesting a man) Rohmer accomplished what all writers of popular fiction yearn for but rarely achieve-the creation of a character who transcends mere popularity and becomes an entry in the dictionary."[108]

Dr. Fu Manchu led an international criminal organisation known as the Si-Fan, which comprised a pan-Asian "murder gang" from the "darkest places of the East" with countless number of Chinese, Burmese, Malay, and Indian thugs all willing to perform his every command.[109] A recurring scene in Fu Manchu novels are the scenes where Fu dispatches Chinese and/or Indian assassins to kill Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie, who are literally surrounded by foreign bodies wishing to do them harm and metaphorically making the point that the East has wrongly trespassed into the West.[109]

Film adaptations of the Dr. Fu Manchu novels are typified by The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), with Boris Karloff playing the title role. Reflecting the centrality of sexual fear to the Yellow Peril, in the film Fu gives a speech before a vast pan-Asian army urging them to "Kill the white man and take his women!".[110] Several times The Mask of Fu Manchu hints that Fu is engaged in an incestuous relationship with his equally evil daughter Fah Lo See (Myrna Loy), which suggests once more the alleged abnormal sexuality of Asians.[111] The American East Asia studies professor Huang Yunte wrote that Hollywood offered up two radically contrasting images of Asian men in the 1930s; the malevolent master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu vs. the benevolent master detective Charlie Chan.[111] The Irish film studies professor Rod Stoneman noted how "...Rohmer’s concoction of cunning Asian villainy connects with the irrational fears of proliferation and incursion: racist myths often carried by the water imagery of flood, deluge, the tidal waves of immigrants, rivers of blood."[100] Through Rohmer always denied being a racist, in 1936 when his novels were banned in Germany (the Nazi regime thought the name Rohmer sounded Jewish), Rohmer wrote a letter where he declared he was “a good Irishman” and he did not know why his novels had been banned because “my stories are not inimical to Nazi ideals”.[100]

Another "Yellow Devil" villain is Li Shoon, a fictional villain of Chinese ethnicity created by H. Irving Hancock, first published in 1916. As common in the pulp fiction of the times, the depiction of Li Shoon had considerable racial stereotypes. He was described as being "tall and stout" and having "a round, moonlike yellow face" topped by "bulging eyebrows" and "sunken eyes". He has "an amazing compound of evil" which makes him "a wonder at everything wicked", and "a marvel of satanic cunning". DC Comics featured "Ching Lung" in Detective Comics, and he appeared on the cover of the first issue (March 1937).

File:Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) 1.jpg
"Ming the Merciless", archenemy of Flash Gordon, has been described as a "futuristic Yellow Peril". He is portrayed here (accompanied by Princess Aura) by Charles Middleton in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe.

Emperor Ming the Merciless, nemesis of Flash Gordon, was another iteration of the Fu Manchu trope. Peter Feng calls him a "futuristic Yellow Peril", quoting a reviewer who referred to Ming as a "slanty eyed, shiny doomed, pointy nailed, arching eyebrowed, exotically dressed Oriental".[112] Likewise, Buck Rogers fought against the "Mongol Reds" also known as "Hans", who had taken over America in the 25th century. In the late 1950s, Atlas Comics (now Marvel Comics) debuted the Yellow Claw, a Fu Manchu pastiche. Marvel would later use the actual Fu Manchu as the principal foe of his son, Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu in the 1970s. Other characters inspired by Rohmer's Fu Manchu include Pao Tcheou.

A 1977 Doctor Who serial, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, builds a science fiction plot upon another loose Fu Manchu pastiche. In this case, the key "yellow devil" character serves to enable an ill-intentioned time traveller from the fifty-first century. The principle villain is not Chinese, but rather a deformed Caucasian man named Magnus Greel, a war criminal from 51st century who has escaped into the 19th century, and is posing as the (fictional) Chinese god Weng-Chiang. Greel's followers are the Tong of the Black Scorpion, who are willing to obey his every command. Besides for the murderous Peking Homunculus cyborg, Greel's principle assistant is the magician Li H'sen Chang, the supposed leader of the Black Scorpion triad, who kidnaps British women to be dissolved in order to provide Greel with their "life essences" to keep him alive. Greel is not Asian, but the fact that the Chinese characters worship Greel as the god Weng-Chiang whereas the British characters can clearly realize that Greel is no god seems to be suggesting that Chinese have lower intelligence than the British. With the exception of Li who starts out as a charismatic gangster/magician, but who turns out to be pathetic, deluded, opium-addled pawn, none of the Black Scorpion triad seemed to have any individual personalities. The Black Scorpion triads hardly ever speak as they silently go about doing Greel`s biddings on the dark, fog-shrouded streets of Victorian London.

Yellow Peril: The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe, by Richard Jaccoma (1978) is both a pastiche and a benign parody of the Sax Rohmer novels.[113] As the title suggests, it's a distillation of the trope, focusing on the psychosexual stereotype of the seductive Asian woman as well that of the ruthless Mongol conqueror that underlies much of supposed threat to Western civilization. Written for a sophisticated modern audience, it uses the traditional use of first-person narrative to portray the nominal hero Sir John Weymouth-Smythe as simultaneously a lecher and a prude, torn between his desires and Victorian sensibilities but unable to acknowledge, much less resolve, his conflicted impulses. Set in the 1930s, the novel concerns the quest for the mystical "Spear of Destiny", an ancient relic with immense supernatural powers which gives whoever possesses it control of the world. Weymouth-Smythe spends much of the novel battling a Dr. Fu Manchu-type character named Chou en Shu for the Spear of Destiny, only for it to be revealed Chou is not the villain at all. Rather the real danger were the German characters who were all fanatical Nazis and who were Weymouth-Smythe's nominal allies in seeking the Spear of Destiny. The Nazis are led by Clara Schicksal, an icy, blue-eyed beautiful blonde who sacrifices hapless Burmese boys to ancient Germanic gods while performing fellatio on them; later on, Weymouth-Symthe punishes Schicksal by repeatedly sodomizing her.[114] Chou en Shu is an ancient Chinese mystic with an enormous penis who rapes women (who greatly enjoy the experience by the end), and turns them into his devoted, willing sex slaves (there is something within his semen that takes over the minds of his female victims), using them as his tools to accomplish his goals when they not serving in his harem. Chou's mission is to foil the Nazis in their efforts to take control of the Spear of Destiny, in order to save the world. The fact that Weymouth-Smyte does not realize until it almost too late that the Nazis are the real danger rather the "Yellow Peril" stereotype he rather mindlessly associates with Chou is novel's way of saying that it is fascism and racism within the West, not an imaginary "Yellow Peril" that the real danger to the world. The cover blurbs for the paperback edition declaim "Erotic adventure in the style of the original 'pulps'" and "'A Porno-Fairytale-Occult-Thriller!' according to the Village Voice". It is clearly in the same line as the contemporaneous works of Philip José Farmer, "updating" Rohmer the way Farmer updated Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester Dent, and Walter B. Gibson.

See also


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  2. Dower, John "Patterns of a Race War" pages 283 -287 from Yellow Peril! An Archive of anti-Asian Fear edited by John Kuo Wei Tchen & Dylan Yeats, London: Verso, 2014 pages 285-286
  3. Leung, Wing Fai (16 August 2014). "Perceptions of the East – Yellow Peril: An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 Marchetti, Gina (1994). Romance and the "Yellow Peril": Race, Sex, and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520914629.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Tsu, Jiang Failure, Nationalism, and Literature: The Making of Modern Chinese Identity, 1895-1937 Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005 page 80
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wei Tchen, John Kuo, Dylan Yeats Yellow Peril! An Archive of anti-Asian Fear London: Verso, 2014
  7. G. G. Rupert, The Yellow Peril or, the Orient versus the Occident, Union Publishing, 1911, p. 9
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 Akira, Iikura "The 'Yellow Peril' and its influence on German-Japanese Relations", pages 80-97 in Japanese-German Relations, 1895-1945: War, Diplomacy and Public Opinion, edited by Christian W. Spang and Rolf-Harald Wippich, London: Routledge, 2006.
  9. Daniel C. Kane, introduction to A.B. de Guerville, Au Japon, Memoirs of a Foreign Correspondent in Japan, Korea, and China, 1892-1894 (West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2009), p. xxix.
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 10.14 10.15 10.16 Palmer, James The Bloody White Baron, New York: Basic Books, 2009
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  12. David Scott (7 November 2008). China and the International System, 1840-1949: Power, Presence, and Perceptions in a Century of Humiliation. SUNY Press. pp. 104–105. ISBN 978-0-7914-7742-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. David Scott (7 November 2008). China and the International System, 1840-1949: Power, Presence, and Perceptions in a Century of Humiliation. SUNY Press. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-0-7914-7742-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 Preston, Diana The Boxer Rebellion, New York: Berkley Books, 2000
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  • Yellow Peril, Collection of British Novels 1895-1913, in 7 vols., edited by Yorimitsu Hashimoto, Tokyo: Edition Synapse. ISBN 978-4-86166-031-3
  • Yellow Peril, Collection of Historical Sources, in 5 vols., edited by Yorimitsu Hashimoto, Tokyo: Edition Synapse. ISBN 978-4-86166-033-7
  • Baron Suematsu in Europe during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05): His Battle with Yellow Peril, by Matsumura Masayoshi, translated by Ian Ruxton (, 2011)
  • Dickinson, Edward Ross "Sex, Masculinity, and the "Yellow Peril": Christian von Ehrenfels' Program for a Revision of the European Sexual Order, 1902-1910" pages 255-284 from German Studies Review, Volume 25, Issue # 2, May, 2002.
  • Palmer, James The Bloody White Baron: The Extraordinary Story of the Russian Nobleman Who Became the Last Khan of Mongolia, New York: Basic Books, 2009, ISBN 0465022073.

External links