Coronavirus spurs xenophobia around globe

"Cornered at school." "Chased." The bullying of a half-Chinese boy is symbolic of a rise in racist behavior since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Anti-Asian racism

“TikTok users please… stop making these stupid f--cking jokes about people dying in China […] this is worst jokes than talking about dogs and cats, there are people dying in China.”

In Canada

As the corona virus spreads around the world, so does anti-Asian racism. In Canada, 44 people died in Toronto during the SARS outbreak in 2003. Racism spiked: Chinese workers were terminated from their jobs; unlawfully kicked out of homes by owners; business in Chinatown dived. Canadians fear a repeat. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, stated, “Let me be clear there is no place in our country for discrimination driven by fear or misinformation. This is not something Canadians will ever stand for.”

In the U.S.

This father spoke to K5 News of his family’s experience. He explains how they were asked to “stay away” from a sample sale at Costco. “My son was saying, why did she think I was from China, is it because of how mom looks?” he recalls. In a since deleted post the UC Berkeley, listed “xenophobia” as a common reaction to virus fears. The university later apologized.


In France, Sun-Lay Tan, an artist agent, shares her experience, “I was in the metro going to work. I sat down on the seat and the person sitting next to me moved over by a few centimeters -- if he could have moved a few meters he would have done but at least it was a few centimeters -- and he covered his mouth with his scarf. I was shocked, I was speechless.” A local newspaper also caused outrage by warning of a “Yellow Alert” before apologizing. This prompted French-Asians to start this hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus which means #IAmNotAVirus.

In Australia, Michael Ma, on the Queensland Chinese United Council, announced, “It is a virus, we call it coronavirus, it is not Chinese virus. What we're going to do is isolate the virus, not Chinese.” Australian media has been criticized for conflating the virus with Chinese identity. With other Australians reporting instances of xenophobia at their work.

Several shops, hotels, and restaurants have been flagged on social media for posting signs banning access for Chinese customers. In South Korea, a protest took place, calling for a ban on Chinese visitors.


February 4, 2020 10:41 PM