Foreigners in Asia targets of Covid-19 related racisms

Photograph: Wang Zhao/Getty

When Covid-19 first spread from China, Asians became targets of racism in Scandinavia and the rest of the West. Now after the spread of the virus has changed in China, that same racism is turned against foreigners and expats inside the country.

While internal coronavirus infection in the country has basically stopped, according to the Chinese authorities themselves, the worry about imported cases has begun. The focus is now on enforcing strict restrictions on entry from abroad and with that, a wide fear of foreigners is seen in China.

The Guardian reports that with the focus shifting from the source of the infection to the danger from outside, foreigners in China have begun to feel the consequences. According to the newspaper a large number of foreigners in China experience shouting and discrimination in public. They have been subjected to further screening and avoided in public spaces. An expat in China walking with a group of foreigners saw a woman grab her child and run the other way. Other foreigners have described being called “foreign trash” and even Chinese media is openly feeding into the racisms. A recent online article posted by mp.weixin.qq was headlined “Beware of a second outbreak started by foreign garbage.” and illustrated by an image of a ship stacked with refuse being pushed away from China’s coast.

The issue is not in China alone and is being replicated across Asia. In Taiwan, some restaurants have reportedly said they will not serve foreign diners. In Vietnam, the hostility toward foreigners is so severe that the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement calling for it to stop. “We hope that the spirit of humanitarianism, equality, and non-discrimination will be upheld by the entire international community so that citizens from all countries and territories can enjoy security, safety, and healthcare,” the statement said.

Thailand’s health minister has reportedly tweeted that the country must be more careful of foreigners than Asians because they never shower or wear masks. The Twitter account has since been deleted and the minister has denied writing the tweets.


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