(Photo by Aly Song/REUTERS)
By Gerry Brown
Starting late January, well before WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, many countries including the US, Australia and some European states banned all Chinese nationals from entering their territory. Chinese and other Asians have been subject to verbal abuse and some were even beaten up badly in those nations. Not a peep was heard from the international media, much less condemnation of the discriminatory and barbaric racism raging wildly across the West.
When China brought the epidemic under control, thousands of foreigners flocked to China for safety as the coronavirus spun out of control in their own countries and they were denied free testing and treatment.
For a time, the Chinese government welcomed those “COVID refugees” out of humanitarian concerns. But as the number of imported cases surged, the Chinese people demanded control measures on the influx of foreign nationals to prevent a second wave of infections. The Chinese had notched a hard-earned victory over the virus, with more than 80,000 sickened and a death toll exceeding 4,000, coupled with almost nationwide lockdowns for two months and staggering economic losses of more than trillions of yuan. These achievements must not be jeopardized and squandered by opportunistic COVID refugees.
Responding to such legitimate concerns, Chinese authorities imposed prudent measures to curb the inflow of foreign nationals. International flights were cut, but not stopped altogether as in Australia, the EU and the US. Outsiders entering China are subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days and compulsory nuclei acid testing.
A few foreigners flouted the quarantine requirement. In flagrant instances, they were deported. In one case, several Nigerians arrived in Guangzhou and broke the quarantine. Four tested positive for the virus. One refused treatment and hit a nurse. They came into contact with more than 2,000 people, necessitating contact tracing and quarantine.
A nurse in Guangzhou got attacked by a Nigerian patient, which left scratch marks on her face and a cut on her left eye (Photo from Sina Weibo)
Public anger against such blatant breaches of the law was understandable at a time of pandemic. And no physical force was used against the culprits. Outside China, they would have been deported straight away, and a few could have been beaten to pulp. But not in China. A McDonald’s in Guangzhou put up a signboard stating that blacks were not allowed into the outlet. It was an isolated, unfortunate case of a commercial entity acting out of line, and the outlet apologized and took corrective action swiftly.
Western media and politicians made a huge mountain out of a tiny molehill. The Sinophobic blitz was led by the US. American spokespersons condemned the incident … even as they remained deafeningly silent on far-worse racism against Chinese and other Asians in the homeland and other Western nations. The US State Department advised African Americans not to visit China, when they were dropping like flies in the US with no access to testing and treatment.
The US and other Western media have clearly weaponized the pandemic against China. In the US, UK and France, leaders have blamed China to deflect criticisms of their own failures to contain the virus. Most notable has been Donald Trump, who dithered for two months before taking anti-COVID measures. Instead, he lied repeatedly and gave false assurances to Americans that everything was under control, the pandemic was a hoax, or it’d miraculously go away in April. He also promised a vaccine would be ready soon, and hydroxychloroquine could cure COVID-19. But the virus didn’t buy his nonsense. Infections grew exponentially and corpses piled up. So in his frustration and anger, Trump hit out at China and WHO — anyone except his own incompetence and pathological delusions.
China’s actions to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 are reasonable and in line with WHO’s recommendations. Infected foreigners in China are treated rather than deported like toxic garbage. No infected foreigner has verbal abuses hurled at them, much less beaten up as Chinese and other Asians have been in Australia, North America and Europe, including those who weren’t even COVID-stricken.
Instead of demanding that Beijing ease controls on foreigners, Western media and politicians should ask their own governments to emulate China and stop racism in their countries. Is that too much to ask?