The “yellow peril” as economic threat

In the early 1930s, the “yellow peril” reflected a fear of a financial threat emerging in China.

In the context of the Great Depression in the US and the impending bank crisis of 1931 in Germany, the ‘yellow peril’, as it appears in Ross’s writings, reflects a renewed apprehension of financial precariousness combined with an anxiety driven by globalizing capitalism. The problem, as Ross sees it, is that China is about to launch an intensive wave of industrialization, the effects of which will be the most important factor affecting global change for the next 100 years.

For Germany and for Europe, China’s industrialization poses a serious threat to the financial security of the working classes, because Chinese industry will compete with Europeans and Americans, put many of their companies out of business, and immiserate huge masses of white workers. While the West is dealing with the resulting social and political upheavals, Chinese wages and living standards will rise to meet those prevailing in the West. In order to protect the living standards of ‘the white peoples’ of the world, Chinese economic development should be opposed.

Ross’s take on the yellow peril will change dramatically after his turn to Nazi ideology. (See The “yellow peril” as geopolitical threat)

Kristin Kopp








Colin Ross. China bedroht die weiße Industrie. Die wirkliche “gelbe Gefahr”. In: Hamburgischer Correspondent. 1931 Jan 1; 3.


Topic: Clash of Continents
Case: Geopolitics




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