Racism towards Chinese spreads alongside virus

Chinese media has answered the call on behalf of its people — both at home and abroad — whom it feels have been racially discriminated against, abused, antagonised for simply being from the source country of the deadly coronavirus.

As news.com.au previously reported, the outbreak has led to a surge in anti-Chinese racism and expatriate communities are feeling it most.

On social media, Chinese people are ostracised. They are the subjects of memes created by mindless internet trolls for a laugh, but they are doing damage.

In the real world, the discrimination is equally confronting, something ANU researcher Yun Jiang called an “inflammation of existing prejudices”.

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The Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, published an editorial on Thursday calling for support for China and rejecting what it labelled “aggressive behaviour” towards its people.

“We deeply regret what our Chinese friends have recently been subjected to repeatedly and how they have sometimes been harshly harassed abroad only because they are from China, although many of them have not been to China for over a month, long before the virus spread,” wrote Nader Shahrouri, an expat from Jordan living in China.

“This aggressive behaviour is absurd and inhumane. The cure for this epidemic lies in each and every one of us. The cure for this epidemic is to truly support the efforts and morale of the Party and the Chinese people, embrace them and stand on their side.”

The op-ed also rightly took exception with members of the media who shared old footage — including images of a woman eating a bat with chopsticks — to perpetuate outdated and offensive stereotypes. (That footage, if you saw it, was from 2016 in Palau. Not China.)

“The media has a supporting role, as the Chinese media releases information about the epidemic situation and how to prevent it 24 hours a day,” the op-ed continued.

“This helps give people moral support and shows the true image of China to the world. But unfortunately, some foreign media have tried to stereotype and isolate the Chinese people.

“Most of these media platforms are from societies that pride themselves on being objective, yet they have broadcast news about the current humanitarian situation using old videos that are not related to what is happening now in the face of the epidemic.

“If China is the eye of the storm for the novel coronavirus, then other countries are the eye of the storm for the virus of non-verification and arrogance towards the Chinese, and the carrier of this epidemic is, of course, the media.

China is facing a difficult humanitarian ordeal, and this is not the time for countries or individuals to link past events with what is happening now.”

In an article from The Verge published earlier this week titled: “The New Coronavirus Is Not An Excuse To Be Racist”, author Eleanor Cummins wrote that “Chinese people in Asia and Asian people around the world say they’ve been treated with suspicion since the virus made international headlines”.

She spoke with Kyra Nguyen, 20, a Vietnamese American from Los Angeles, who “watched the ethnic slur ‘chink’ ping-pong around Twitter”.

“As soon as the news got out that (coronavirus) landed in America, that’s when it started ramping up with the racist comments,” she said. “Prior to that, it was like, ‘Oh, it’s in China,’ so people weren’t as worried about it, I guess.”

Mr Shahrouri wrote that enough is enough.

“I ask the world to stand with China morally, financially and through the media, as this stand will save your family, your country and the entire world, not just China.

“Finally, we pray to God to heal and recover all of humanity.”

The death toll from coronavirus in mainland China has reached 636 people, according to China’s National Health Commission.

It was reported that 73 people died from the virus on Thursday. Of those, 64 were from the provincial capital Wuhan where the virus originated.

rohan.smith1@news.com.au | @ro_smith

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