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The outbreak of coronavirus originated from China has given rise to widespread racism towards Chinese and non-Chinese with Asian appearance.

Many Chinese and Asians who have not stepped foot in China recently or had contact with people infected with the virus have faced an increase in hostility on social media and in person since the outbreak began.

This happens not only in the Netherlands, but our neighbouring countries such as France and Germany have also reported many cases of racial discrimination. As the number of infected cases increases, so does the anti-Chinese sentiment.

Chinese restaurant business in the Netherlands and abroad has suffered tremendous losses as people are avoiding places where Chinese people gather or work. Media coverage and social media play a crucial role in spreading racist and misleading information by portraying Chinese as unclean, uncivilised and a threat to the local community. Many people show angers towards the entire Chinese population for causing this global health crisis. However, these behaviours are usually acted out of fear and ignorance.

In the Netherlands, the flu causes thousands of casualties each year. To put this in perspective (but without discounting the danger of the virus), coronavirus has caused significantly fewer casualties in China with much greater population than the Netherlands. Based on statistics from Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment, the Netherlands, with only 1% of China’s population,has reported more than 2900[1]deaths during the flu season in 2018/2019 as a possible result of influenza.

Other than influences from the media and social media, politics in the Netherlands also feeds hostile responses towards Chinese. The fears surrounding the virus are in direct response to the fear of the rising economic power and influence of China. According to Professor Pieke[2], “there has been a huge shift of perception about China. The country threatens and orders us, and messes with our norms and values…. China may be a nice enemy for politics, but it is up to political leaders to make it clear that their fear of China should not be translated into fear of the Chinese in the Netherlands.’

Inflicting social shaming towards the Chinese community will not protect people from the virus but it aggregates panic among us. The fear and ignorance can cause unpleasant, hurtful or even hateful sentiments in our society. If you experience such situation and you want some information and advice, please feel free to contact Haian staff.

You can also take measures yourself by reporting discrimination through the following channels:

  1.  discrimination.nl – https://discriminatie.nl/#/meld_discriminatie/
  2. The police – https://www.politie.nl/aangifte-of-melding-doen/meldpunten/meldformulier-discriminatie.html