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Coronavirus: Racism, xenophobia as anti-China fears grip countries

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As the coronavirus spreads, fear is fueling racism and xenophobia.

As the virus has spread globally, so have public paranoia and anti-Chinese fears.

Many people of Asian descent say they have been treated like walking pathogens. One Chinese-Malaysian woman in London told CNN that when she rode the bus this week, the person in the next seat got up and moved.

Misinformation about Chinese food: The trade and consumption of wild animals is a real problem in China. But online panic has spread harmful misinformation, perpetuating stereotypes about Chinese food and fueling anti-Chinese sentiment.

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For example, one video of a Chinese travel blogger eating bat soup was filmed three years ago in the Pacific island nation of Palau, with no connection to Wuhan or the current outbreak. But the video has gone viral, with people online expressing horror and disgust.
What people in China eat: Mostly the same type of meat you see in other cuisines, like pork or chicken. Only a small proportion of people eat wild animals.

Read also: Coronavirus: Nigerians should postpone China tours– FG

Ancient tropes make a comeback: In the 19th century, the racist metaphor of “Yellow Peril” proliferated in the United States and other Western countries, targeting East Asians and specifically Chinese immigrants.

So last weekend, readers were outraged by the headlines “Yellow Alert” and “New Yellow Peril” in a French newspaper.

The newspaper apologized quickly — but the damage is done, and the paper isn’t the sole culprit — merely the latest in a wave of re-emerging racism against East Asians across the world.


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