"If it wasn't Coronavirus it'd be something else" – 'Coronaracism' rises in the UK

Racism towards East Asian people in the UK has followed growing anxiety around the Coronavirus outbreak.

Robin Zhang was walking home with friends when he was abused by strangers who referred to him as the virus itself. He’s a student from mainland China and says that recent news about the virus has given the opportunity to abuse people like him.

The UK reported its eighth case of coronavirus yesterday, a week after the disease was first diagnosed in the UK. 108 people died in Mainland China yesterday, bringing the total death toll to over 1,000 in the country. Worldwide, 43,000 people are infected.

This has lead to paranoia and racism directed towards Chinese and East Asian people, who are generalised as carriers of the virus. Cardiff is not excluded, and people living and studying here have been subject to abuse.

Cardiff Students’ Union says that it has received several complaints from Chinese and East Asian students, who say that they’ve suffered abuse since coronavirus appeared in the UK.

They say they’re working closely with the university to make sure both students and staff are supported, with the SU President Jackie Yip saying that fear of the virus cannot be used to justify racism, and that people must educate themselves.

It’s not an ethnicity that is bringing disease anywhere, it’s a disease; it doesn’t pick on anyone because of the way that they look.

Jackie Yip, Cardiff Student’s Union President

But while for some, paranoia may be the source of ‘Coronaracism’, for others, its just a different form of a more pervasive form of racism. Peter Wong, Labour Councillor for Plasnewydd, says that racism has been a constant for him as non-white person in the UK.

If it wasn’t the Coronavirus it would be something else… That’s certainly been my personal experience and when I speak to other non-white people, that’s just our experience just of general living…random acts of racism directed at you by complete strangers; that’s been my whole life.

Peter Wong, Labour Councillor for Plasnewydd.

Mr Wong was keen to point out that while there are individuals and undercurrents of racism within the UK, that on the whole the diversity of Cardiff’s multi-ethnic communities will continue to make it a welcoming place for people from all backgrounds.