The outbreak of coronavirus has fueled a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment around the world, some called carona from stores that prohibit entry to Chinese tourists, online vitriol who mocks the country’s exotic meat trade and surprise health checks on foreign workers .
The carona waris as well as called virus, which originated in China, has spread to more than a dozen countries, many of them in Southeast Asia, which has sensitive relations with China amid concerns about vast infrastructure spending and the political influence of Beijing in the region and sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea. .
But in places as far away as France, a newspaper has been criticized by its “Yellow Alert” headline, echoing a historic western racist term “Yellow Danger” used to sow fear of Asian influence, while authorities and schools in Toronto, Canada, they have warned against discrimination against Chinese Canadians.
“Orientalist assumptions plus political distrust plus health problems are a fairly powerful combination,” said Charlotte Setijadi, and an anthropologist who teaches at the University of Management in Singapore.
The Chinese authorities have said that the virus emerged from a market that sells illegally marketed wildlife, which caused widespread mockery in China’s social networks of exquisite delicacies and ingredients for traditional medicine.
“Stop eating bats,” said a Twitter user in Thailand, the main destination for Chinese tourists. “It is not surprising that the Chinese are creating new diseases,” another Thai user posted next to a video that showed a man eating raw meat.
China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comments by fax. China has said that the virus outbreak should not be politicized.
“Because your country is starting to spread diseases […] we don’t accept serving the guest from China, “said an English sign in front of the Danang Riverside hotel in the central Vietnamese city of the same name. Later, authorities told the hotel to remove the sign, his manager said in a Facebook post .
Vietnam, which was under Chinese occupation centuries ago and questions Beijing’s extensive maritime claims in the South China Sea, has particularly tense relations with China.
But it is not alone in the region.
More than 60% of respondents from officials, academics and other professionals in Southeast Asia said in a survey this month that they distrusted China. Almost 40% said they thought China was “a revisionist power and intends to turn Southeast Asia into its sphere of influence.” The survey did not mention the virus.
Many countries have imposed visa restrictions on travelers from Hubei Province, the epicenter of the virus, while some airlines have suspended all direct flights to mainland China.
But this is not enough for hundreds of thousands of people in South Korea and Malaysia who have signed petitions online urging the authorities to prohibit the Chinese from visiting their countries.
In an unusual move, Samal Island in southern Philippines banned Thursday not only tourists from China, but also from all countries affected by the coronavirus to the popular beach spot.
China’s rise in outbound tourism has created a pattern of international travel unprecedented in human history and has fueled the growth of businesses to serve Chinese travelers worldwide. From a drip in the 1980s, the number of Chinese tourists grew to estimates of more than 160 million in 2019.
But earlier this week, a group of Chinese tourists in Padang, in western Sumatra of Indonesia, met locals holding a banner that said: “We, the communities of West Sumatra, rejected the visit of Chinese tourists “.
In Myanmar, officials launched surprise health checks on Chinese workers in the northwest Sagaing region after a local lawmaker accused them of spreading the virus.
Aung May Yee, regional deputy, posted on Facebook that five cars full of Chinese workers had arrived at a copper mining project near the city of Letpadaung from across the border and that it was their “national duty” to alert the authorities .
“At first, I suspected they would come illegally and hide there because of the virus,” he said. Reuters by phone, adding that the checks had found that they were traveling with legitimate documentation and that they had no symptoms of illness.