Around the world sample of reaction to COVID-19

There’s been an uptick of rhetoric blaming someone for the coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, China and the Chinese people.

Instead of using neutral and scientific language like “coronavirus” and “Covid-19,” people are posting online about the “Chinese virus,” “Chinese coronavirus,” “Wuhan virus,” or the “Kung Flu.” Much of this ramping-up can be linked to public statements and social media posts by Republican politicians, including US president Donald Trump.

Anti-Chinese sentiment growth

For politicians in the US and western Europe seeking to distract from their own disastrous mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, the idea of “China” has become a convenient scapegoat. The beauty of blaming “China” lies in its ambiguity. Are critics merely condemning the way the Communist party concealed information during those crucial January weeks? Both liberals and conservatives in the US, including Donald Trump, have used this defence.

Or, is the clear subtext that the real culprits are the “Chinese people” and their exotic culture and habits? Leave it to Nigel Farage to clumsily play both sides, claiming both that he held “no ill-will against the Chinese people” but that the problem lay with “appalling hygiene conditions in Chinese wildlife markets” and the customary diet of bats and pangolins. Whatever the intentions, we now see how criticisms of “China” have translated into an upsurge of racist violence aimed at the Chinese and Asian diaspora living in the US, western Europe and Oceania.

I applaud the liberal condemnation of these attacks as xenophobic, but also worry that vague cries of tolerance for “Chinese people” and “culture” play into the racist framing of the right, in which we wind up debating identity and difference at the expense of dynamic historical processes.

Any serious attempt to grapple with China’s role in this pandemic must also consider the specific political-economic conditions of China’s ascent within the global market in recent years, which facilitated the virus’s spread as well as planting the seeds for an Euro-American backlash.

And the dog-whistle language is just part of the problem, with blatantly anti-Asian racism and China-centered conspiracy theories spreading across the internet.

An atmosphere of hate and stigmatization is already having harmful consequences out in the real world. Incidents of racial hatred and violence toward Asians have been reported in several countries since the virus began spreading.

Chinese Government response to articles discriminating against China

About three weeks ago, Ivo Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO, submitted one of his bi-monthly columns to The Chicago Tribune for publication. In it, Daalder criticized China for choosing “secrecy and inaction” in dealing with Covid-19, as the disease caused by the coronavirus is officially known. He wrote that China had turned “the possibility of an epidemic into a reality.”

He also levied the kind of accusation against the Chinese Community Party and its leader, Xi Jinping, that neither is particularly fond of hearing: “Authoritarians are good at ducking responsibility and shifting blame,” Daalder wrote. “But people inside and out of China will have noticed that secrecy and control can be deadly, and will begin to question whether the system is in fact as effective as China’s leaders make it out to be.”

The article was later produced by the Kathmandu Post in Nepal, alongside an illustration of Mao Zedong wearing a surgical mask.

Recently Donald Trump has implied that he had been provided information on laboratories that could have ‘engineered’ the virus in China, but could not provide the evidence to prove this and the US Secret Service confirmed that there is no link to the Covid-19 virus being ‘man made’ or that China”s involvement to a perceived biological warfare program.

In responding to the Chicago Tribune’s artlicle China’s consul general in Chicago, sent a letter to the editor of the Tribune, accusing Daalder of inaccuracies and bias; whilst in and in Nepal, the Chinese embassy issued a strongly-worded statement that said the Kathmandu Post was “malicious” .

European hostility towards China.

Experts on Europe’s relationship with China say this is part of a broader pattern of increased hostility from Chinese diplomats on issues ranging from coronavirus to Taiwan, Tibet, and Hong Kong.Across Europe, Chinese embassies have gone after media reports criticizing China for its handling of coronavirus, seeking to promote the idea that the Communist Party’s response to the outbreak has in fact been transparent and effective.

The embassy in London accused The Economist of “hold[ing] a prejudice against China’s political system.” In Paris, the Chinese embassy said that, in some media outlets, “the reflex criticism of everything Chinese is bordering on paranoia.” In Berlin, the embassy accused the media of “continuing to stir up and spread panic.” In Copenhagen, the embassy demanded that a Danish newspaper “publicly apologize to the Chinese people” for publishing a cartoon depicting a Chinese flag with illustrations of a virus instead of stars.

Though the tone and content of these statements vary, “there are some clear talking points,” said Björn Jerdén, head of the Asia Program at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. “They are concerned that people are connecting this virus to China. You can’t call it the China virus, or the Wuhan virus. You should see it as a global crisis faced by many countries, China being one of them.”

  • Mexico

Mexico City (CNN)

In Mexico, Colombia, India, the Philippines, Australia and other countries, people terrified by the highly infectious virus are lashing out at medical professionals — kicking them off buses, evicting them from apartments, even dousing them with water mixed with chlorine.

Dr. Alondra Jovanna Torres was walking her dogs on a tranquil street near her house in Guadalajara when the attack happened. The quiet morning was shattered when someone behind her screamed something inaudible, and she felt a splash on the side of her face.

Liquid streamed into her left eye and down her neck. Pain quickly followed. The familiar, caustic smell led to a swift realization: She’d been doused with bleach.

The heroism of healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic is applauded daily in cities and towns around the world, but it’s a different story for some in Mexico. At least 44 attacks against medical personnel have been registered across the country since mid-March, according to data provided to CNN by Mexico’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination.

The types of attacks vary but include nurses and doctors being struck in the face and scalding liquid thrown onto their bodies.

Authorities say the attacks are likely motivated by rumours that medical personnel are responsible for spreading the virus throughout Mexico. Several doctors and nurses told CNN they have been harassed on their social media accounts with accusations of spreading the disease.

“These attacks show the lack of education, culture, as well as the ignorance of people,” said Dr. Patricia Maldonado, a doctor who works at a hospital designated to treat Covid-19 patients in Guadalajara.

As of Wednesday, Mexico had confirmed 10,544 cases of coronavirus infection and nearly 1,000 deaths, according to government data.

  • Meanwhile in America

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”

Mr Trump suggests injecting patients with disinfectants might help treat coronavirus.

Using a disinfectant can kill viruses on surfaces, but this is crucially only about infected objects and surfaces – not about what happens once the virus is inside your body.

Not only does consuming or injecting disinfectant risk poisoning and death, it’s not even likely to be effective.

Doctors have appealed to people not to ingest or inject disinfectant, as there are concerns people will think this is a good idea and die.

“Injecting bleach or disinfectant at the dose required to neutralise viruses in the circulating blood would likely result in significant, irreversible harm and probably a very unpleasant death,” says Rob Chilcott, professor of toxicology at the University of Hertfordshire.”

And lastly I think the last word should come from Andrew Cuomo the Governor of New York who is trying to maintain order in attempts to ease restrictions on New York’s lockdown whilst being held to account by journalists and economic pundits in the US bewailing the cost of COVID-19 to the American economy.

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo

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