‘No Chinese allowed’: Racism surges
The coronavirus outbreak has led to a surge in anti-Chinese racism, adding to the anxiety felt by many expatriate communities around the globe.
Social media sites including Twitter and Facebook have been inundated with hate speech in the form of racist memes and slurs, in some cases suggesting violence against Chinese people or calling for China to be "nuked".
Those sentiments are increasingly spreading to real-life discrimination across both across Asia and in western countries.
"I don't think it's necessarily turned people into racists but what it does is inflame the existing prejudices within the community," said ANU researcher Yun Jiang, coeditor of the China Neican policy newsletter.
"So now people who perhaps have existing prejudice suddenly have an excuse to act out with racist behaviour and remarks."
In South Korea, a number of businesses are refusing to serve Chinese customers, placing signs in windows reading, "No Chinese allowed."
As of 6 pm on Tuesday, the entrance to a seafood restaurant in downtown Seoul bore a sign that read, in red Chinese characters, “No Chinese allowed.” That same day, union of food delivery workers asked to be excused from making deliveries to areas with a large Chinese population pic.twitter.com/tSE0Z7wwhk— Klaus (@Kakapolka) January 29, 2020
A similar notice was placed in the window of a confectionery store in the Japanese mountain town of Hakone. "No Chinese are allowed to enter the store," the sign said. "I do not want to spread the virus."
Similar incidents have been reported in Hong Kong and Taiwan, while in Canada an Ontario school board this week warned parents that concerns about coronavirus could veer into xenophobia.
Earlier this week, a fake media release claiming to be from the Queensland Department of Health advised people to stay away from "all populated areas with Chinese nationals of ratio of one to three non-Chinese Australians".
Chinese authorities on Thursday announced the official death toll had risen to 170, with 7711 cases now reported in the country. The outbreak has spread to more than 20 countries, with at least 91 confirmed cases outside China including seven in Australia.
The virus is from the coronavirus family, which includes those that can cause the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Researchers believe the virus first spread to humans at a controversial "wet" market in the city of Wuhan that sold exotic and live animals including civet cats, bats, dogs, pigs, snakes, bamboo rats and hedgehogs.
As the virus spread, a video of Chinese celebrity vlogger Wang Mengyun eating a bowl of bat soup went viral online. Ms Wang this week broke her silence to say the video was not filmed in China but in Palau, Micronesia, three years ago.
"In the video, fruit bats are raised by local people, not wild ones," she said in a statement. "Many countries around the world eat this. It's a daily dish in many countries, but it's also a bat, can't argue with that."
Writing in The Guardian on Monday, University of Manchester student Sam Phan said the panic was making him feel "more and more uncomfortable". "On the train over the weekend, a group sat opposite me chattering about their weekend plans," Mr Phan wrote.
"One of them seriously advised the rest, 'I wouldn't go to Chinatown if I were you, they have that disease.' In another loud conversation, I overheard a woman talking about how terrified she was that her friend, who had spent some time working with Chinese students, might have infected her with the virus."
Mr Phan said as the virus spread, it had "revealed more and more stereotyped judgments about Chinese people". "East Asians have been accused of instigating the virus by having 'revolting' eating habits," he said. "Most Asians know these stereotypes all too well."
Ms Jiang agreed. "You look at the history of racism, a lot of it is linked to concepts of hygiene and customs such as food - the western conception of what's weird and not, what is hygienic - and I think that really plays into this racist discourse as well," she said.