Ever since the first reported cases of Covid-19 came from Wuhan, the city was suspect to be the epicenter for the spread of the virus to the rest of the world. Many countries automatically blamed the Chinese government for withholding vital information and not taking sufficient measures to contain the deadly Covid-19 virus, as it is still spreading rapidly to many parts of the world.
The Covid-19 outbreak was thought to originate from a local live animal and seafood wet market. Chinese authorities took appropriate action by immediately shutting down such wet markets and ordering the total lockdown of Wuhan on January 23rd.
However, continuous news coverage of new cases, discoveries of new clusters and increasing daily death rates made many other nations wary of China, with suspicions running high on an alleged mass cover-up of the actual situation, putting the Chinese government and its people in a bad light.
The negative news reports accusing China of not taking enough steps to contain the outbreak, and with the virus linked to a Chinese city have taken Sinophobia, or anti-Chinese sentiments, to an all-time high in other countries.
Chinese people living, studying or working overseas in Europe and America are being accused of being the cause of the spread of Covid-19. Chinese who are second or third generation migrant Chinese Americans, British Chinese, and even Australian Chinese who have probably never stepped on Chinese soil, now find themselves being targeted, harassed, and some even viciously attacked, all in a tide of racism brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sinophobia even appears in nearby Hong Kong, where nearly 10 boarders were closed in February in a bid by Hong Kong to prevent a virus invasion. This action was also invoked from anti-China sentiment over Beijing’s increasing grip on the former British colony’s autonomy.
Willy Lam, a Chinese political expert at Hong Kong’s Chinese University explained the situation, “As long as the epidemic keeps worsening, people will at the back of their minds blame the mainlanders and think, ‘After all, it’s the mainlanders who started all this,’”.
Meanwhile in Soho, London, actor and director David Tse, out for his daily morning jog, suddenly found himself being attacked with a verbal assault from a passing Caucasian woman who rudely told him to “F*&# off back to China”. In spite of Tse replying he was a British citizen, the women further responded by yelling, “Take your %^#ing virus home with you”.
David Tse’s family migrated to England in the early 1970s when he was six, and they ran 2 food outlets for a living. David and his siblings who used help out at the outlets, clearly remembers receiving racist remarks from many customers, leaving him to wonder why his parents left Hong Kong.
Even though David feels Britain has become more tolerant over the years, the recent Sinophobia has left doubts in his mind.
In another incident, Geoff Leong, a local restaurateur married to a Caucasian, with the family of 5 living in north London, recently found all four tyres of his car slashed once morning.
Geoff’s response: writing the word “Why?” on each damaged tyre. He also left a message on his car windscreen asking: “How is my NHS (National Health Service) doctor wife going to get to work today?”
Geoff came from Hong Kong to Britain to attend boarding school at the tender age of 10. He commented, “London is a very diverse, metropolitan city, people know about political correctness, but the agenda changed when Brexit came and when Trump came. Now, people are thinking, ‘You look Chinese, you look East Asian, you must have Covid-19.’ That is absolutely wrong and we have to stamp this out.”.
And who can forget another case of Sinophobia that happened in March to a Singaporean student, Jonathan Mok, who is studying in London. Jonathan was viciously attacked by 2 teenagers in Oxford Street, and told the police one attacker shouted, “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”
The Singaporean student was left with injuries ranging from a swollen face, one black eye and a broken bone beneath the black eye.
In the US, President Trump has repeatedly proclaimed in his press conferences and on Twitter that the Covid-19 virus is a “Chinese virus”, and to add further insult to injury, called it the “Wuhan virus”.
Videos of a Caucasian Australian verbally abusing Chinese students on a train along with other videos of the same nature, have been making their way on social media.
Sadly, Sinophobia will continue as long as people choose to remain ignorant of the real facts of the Covid-19 disease, and take out their frustrations over lockdowns and job losses on the Chinese and just about anybody who looks Chinese. Many innocent Chinese people who have roots in other parts of the world with no links to China, e.g., Indonesian Chinese, Singaporeans, Thais, Burmese and Vietnamese, are often mistaken for mainland Chinese and end up being targets as well.
1st June 2020 15:00
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