Is there a good canonical explanation why there are so few humans of Asian descent in Star Fleet? Considering that over a third of the present-day world population lives in China and India, they're severely under-represented in Star Trek.

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    What's the availability of that ethnicity in the current actor/actress pool ? If you don't have enough in the acting pool ....
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 18:28
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    This is a question that breaks the fourth wall in that part of the reason there aren't as many characters as demographically expected is because it is a production, where the staffing is dependent on matters outside of demographic conditions on Earth as we currently know it today. Production companies hire as they see fit, not necessarily to reflect the actual populations of said future worlds. In all seriousness, most movies and film never accurately depict population densities. In the Walking Dead, we are in Atlanta whose Black population dwarfs almost all others, but look at the casting... Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 19:06
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    I agree the limited pool of actors is the root cause - but wondered if we can "make up" a good explanation w/out breaking the 4th wall. Perhaps during the Third World War in the 21st century of the Trek universe, most of India and China were nuked?
    – RobertF
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 19:32
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    I doubt the root cause is a shortage of Asian actors. For a long time Asian actors have complained about Hollywood's racial bias. Things have gotten better over the decades, but it's still comparatively harder for Asian actors to get work because few roles are written specifically for Asian actors, and many directors still won't consider Asian actors for characters that aren't specifically Asian. So unless they're portraying Chinatown, you won't typically see many Asian actors. That said, Star Trek has far more Asian characters with speaking parts than most contemporary programs. Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


An in-canon reason could be the two bloody wars fought largely in Asia during the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries in Star Trek canon. The Eugenics Wars were largely fought in Asia - Khan controlled an area stretching from Egypt to Australia, from memory - and the Third World War was fought between a combination of Western states and something called the "Eastern Coalition," which is implied in the novelisation of First Contact to have been destroyed even more than North America was. That same book posits Indonesia's emergence as a great power on the basis that every possible competitor no longer exists.

If we take the destruction of much of Asia as fact - and it is never explicitly stated on film or television that this occurred - then there is a very good reason there are few people of Asia descent in Star Fleet; most of them died hundreds of years before the events onscreen, with only people like Sulu and Bashir, whose families had emigrated to the West, being available to work for Star Fleet.

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    According to memory alpha - I don't know the quality of that source - the number of deaths is estimated to be between 20-37 million. This is too small to be a factor. Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 23:44
  • @congusbongus Memory Alpha is a very good resource, the people that update it try to reference everything. You can see that those figures all have references - in 5 different episodes. I'd be surprised if they were wrong.
    – Izkata
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 0:17
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    That is a stunningly small number of deaths. I recall the - non-canon - First Contact novelisation positing at least 50 million deaths during WWIII, which again is not enough to render Asia uninhabited. One could alternatively say that English is the official language of Star Fleet and that fewer Asians speak it, but that seems astonishingly discriminatory for the Federation. Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 0:24
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    @congusbongus Riker says the number of deaths from WW3 was on the order of 600 million. Plus, a "eugenics" war might involve a lot of not-necessarily lethal sterilization of the populace (pure speculation). Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 6:48
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    600 million deaths would be devastating in the present day or Trek universe. And if we allow ourselves to speculate further that the world population had already shrunk to a few billion for various reasons prior to WWIII (population control, climate change, pollution, etc.), then the Asian population could have been decimated.
    – RobertF
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 14:00

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