The complaints are familiar – “Asian immigrants are taking our jobs,” “Asian immigrants are buying our property and keeping us out.”
Instead of being complaints found in the Richmond Review’s letters-to-the-editor section, however, these are the complaints that were found in a Liberal Party advertisement in 1921 that was posted on a Vancouver history site.
Our history – the history of Vancouver, BC, and Canada – especially that of Asian immigration is one fraught with historical wrongs. The Chinese head tax, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Japanese internment, the Komagata Maru, all are racially-based historical wrongs that we continue to live with today.
While we don’t quite have an Asiatic Exclusion League actively campaigning today against Asian immigration today, the complaints that prompted the Liberal Party of 1921 to pledge to keep British Columbia “white” are still around, and they seem to keep rising in strength. Indeed, it appears that there is a rise of a new rhetoric of “yellow peril.”
Property speculation: They’re taking our land!
The new yellow peril rhetoric is immediately observable in Vancouver’s perennial hot-topic debate: the housing crisis and property speculation. It has almost become vogue to enter the debate on the housing crisis with the argument that one of the primary reasons that people cannot afford to live in the Lower Mainland is because our market has been distorted by foreign buyers – property speculators from places like Hong Kong, from China, from places that are Asian and have Asian people living in them.