5 Cases Where The Wuhan Coronavirus Was Used To Discriminate Against Chinese
The spread of the Wuhan outbreak in over 22 countries has not only spurred health fears, but also xenophobic sentiments
Before the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, people in China were notoriously known for eating dogs, a domestic pet which has earned a name as 'men's best friend'.
While it is learned that not all Chinese nationals eat canine meat - as a survey conducted by Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA) in 2016 showed that 69% of residents in mainland China had never eaten dog meat - media coverage on the issue painted a bad light on Chinese people until this very day.
On top of that, the 2019-nCoV is suspected to have originated from eating exotic meat, such as bats, which has a similar origin to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, reported Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
This fuelled some people around the world to discriminate against Chinese nationals, resulting in incidents of racism and xenophobia.
However, it is difficult to pinpoint whether the fear is spurred from a fraction of Chinese nationals' eating habits or if it is the result of long-standing geopolitical and trade tensions.
Here are some incidents of xenophobia reported in five developed countries:
1. South Korea
In South Korea, restaurants began putting up 'no Chinese allowed' signs on front windows, reported Bloomberg.
A casino that relies on foreign customers for business has also stopped accepting Chinese tourist groups.
Besides, more than half a million South Koreans have signed a petition lobbying the government to ban Chinese tourists from entering the country.
South Korea has six cases of 2019-nCoV, where the first reported case was a Chinese national, while three more were South Koreans who recently came back from the city of Wuhan, according to Reuters.
This was what a Chinese woman heard when she entered a restaurant in the city of Ito, south of Tokyo.
Bloomberg reported that a Japanese restaurant server shouted at her and their scuffle was recorded on a video, which went viral on Weibo, a Twitter-equivalent social media platform in China.
Meanwhile, The Straits Times reported that a Japanese confectionery shop in Hakone put up an offensive sign, which warned against Chinese nationals stepping into the store.
The sign, which was written incoherently, said Chinese are an "absurd ethnic group" and "makes one feel annoyed".
It also urged Chinese not to visit Hakone and the rest of Japan in view of the virus outbreak.
This led netizens on Weibo to call for a boycott of the store.
In France, a regional newspaper was caught up in a controversy for making a racist remark on its front-page headline, reported New York Times.
"Yellow Alert" was written in full view on the newspaper, while an online version reads "New Yellow Peril?" Both coverage show an Asian-looking woman with a covered mouth.
According to Daily Mail, the newspaper, Le Courrier Picard, has angered many Asian French in the country, causing a viral hashtag movement #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus' ('I Am Not A Virus').
The country has also postponed student exchange programmes with China, reported Bloomberg.
A daily in Denmark, Jyllands-Posten, caused global outrage when it featured the China flag with virus symbols instead of five stars, reported Deutsche Welle, a Germany's international media.
The publication led the Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen to demand Jyllands-Poste issue a public apology.
However, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Jacob Nybroe, said they are not planning to apologise as they do not deem the illustration was wrong.
"As far as I can see, we are dealing with two different cultural views," Nybroe explained in the paper, "We have a strong tradition of freedom of expression and caricature in Denmark, and we will continue to have it in the future."
Over in Canada, a petition calling schools to ban China-returning students from attending classes has garnered over 10,000 signatures, reported The Guardian.
"This has to stop. Stop eating wild animals and then infecting everyone around you," wrote one petition signer, "Stop the spread and quarantine yourselves or go back."
A board that represents 208 schools in Toronto condemned the petition, saying that it is inciting racism and bias.
"We are aware of an escalated level of concern and anxiety among families of Chinese heritage," wrote York board chair Juanita Nathan and education director Louise Sirisko.
"Individuals who make assumptions, even with positive intentions of safety, about the risk of others, request or demand quarantine can be seen as demonstrating bias and racism."
Bloomberg noted that the area has large ethnic Chinese and Asian populations.
Meanwhile, a man died from cardiac arrest on the streets of Sydney recently after no one dared to give him CPR: