The Washington Redskins American football team announced last month it would be “retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of a review” demanded by its major sponsors. The team has taken flak for years over the name that Native Americans find offensive and the move is among a series of name changes by sporting teams and consumer products in response to the intense conversation about racism triggered by the killing of George Floyd , an African American, by Minneapolis police in May. Critics decry these changes as political correctness gone mad and even ahistorical, but names of people, places and things have often changed over time. What once was an acceptable moniker might, in a different time and place, become offensive, and a different name adopted to reflect society’s changing sensibilities. The Chinese have had multiple collective names for foreign peoples. The ancient Huaxia people, the forerunners of modern-day Han Chinese, called other peoples by different names according to the cardinal points: the Yi in the east wore their hair down and tattooed their bodies; the Man in the south sported tattoos and sat cross-legged; in the west, the Rong wore their hair down and donned animal skins; while the Di in the north wore feathers and furs, and lived in caves. Some of the Yi and Man ate their food without cooking it over fire, and the western Rong and northern Di did not eat grains. After centuries, many Yi, Man, Rong and Di peoples were assimilated into the Chinese nation. When the Chinese began to have direct contact with Central Asians, some of whom had Caucasoid features, they referred to them as Hu. And all foreigners were collectively called Fan. Ex-Redskins become Washington Football Team for 2020 season Yi, Man, Rong, Di, Hu and Fan were originally value-neutral names that one group of people used to identify other groups with different physical characteristics, languages and customs. But they eventually acquired negative connotations, coloured by Chinese notions of superiority over their “primitive” neighbours, and fearful resentment against border raids and outright invasions. The words yi , man , rong , di , hu , fan and several others became synonymous with “barbarian”. When these “barbarians” invaded and occupied parts or the whole of China, the foreign rulers were naturally sensitive to slights from their conquered subjects. When Shi Le, who belonged to a group of people with “high-bridged noses and heavy beards” called the Jie, founded the Later Zhao dynasty in northern China in AD319, he banned the word hu . When the Manchus conquered China and founded the Qing dynasty, in 1644, their scrutiny of all written and printed works for the words yi , fan and the like was thorough, and the punishment of their writers and publishers swift and merciless. Today, most Chinese no longer use these pejorative names, at least not in official or public discourse. Foreigners are waiguoren (“people of foreign countries”) and the ethnic minorities within China are known by their official demonyms, such as Miao, Mongol, Zhuang, and so on. However, racism and racist name calling still exist in China, as they do all over the world. It is a stain on the human condition that can never be completely removed, but only mitigated through watchfulness and reflection.