Resisting the Racist Blame Game
By HG Masters
The spread of racial and ethnic hatred has been weaponized by politicians and their supporters around the world, including in Asia. US president Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to Covid-19 as “the Chinese virus” while his administration spars with China over a range of issues. But even in Hong Kong, the primary anti-government media outlets, which often align themselves with American neoconservative politicians on their anti-China stances, refer to the pandemic as the “Wuhan pneumonia” or the “Wuflu,” to cement the link between the devastation caused by the disease and the Chinese Communist Party. Meanwhile, discrimination against people from mainland China or Mandarin-speakers—a chronic local problem—remains as high as ever. More than 100 restaurants in the city, have, at one point, refused to serve diners from the region.
Elsewhere, Glasgow-based artist Frank To spoke out in a Glasglow Times article about “increasing racism” towards British people of Chinese origin due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, noting that his family’s restaurant had seen a decline in customers even while the outbreak was largely centered in China at the time. In Italy, street artist Laika’s paste-up mural in Rome’s Chinatown supports a local restaurant owner whose business has been severely affected. Wearing a white protective suit and mask, restauranteur Sonia is depicted saying: “There's an epidemic of ignorance going around . . . we must protect ourselves!!!”
HG Masters is the deputy editor and deputy publisher of ArtAsiaPacific.
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