My local newspaper the Westminster Extra highlights on its weekly front page this week the impact of the coronavirus scare on business in Chinatown, a more than 50 per cent reduction in trade on normally bustling trading days. On top of this we have an IPSOS survey tell us incredibly that 1 in 7 people would avoid people Chinese origin or appearance with on-set of #coronavirus But as the health officers have shown quite clearly sinophobia – anti-Chinese racism – won’t save you from coronavirus particularly when you remember that a ordinary Brit had brought it on to our shores
Unfortunately sinophobia has a long history. Chinese people have faced perceptions of being “unhygienic” and “dirty” long before coronavirus came along. As early as the 19th century Opium Wars, the Chinese nation was referred to as the “sick man of Asia”. This slur took a literal turn as Chinese migrants across the world came to be associated with poor hygiene and proneness to disease.
We are quite clearly seeing sinophobia raising its head again and it needs to dealt with head on.