Still Made in China? By James Reed
Face masks still coming from China? Have a look at this and think about whether or not this is a good idea:
“Over the past few weeks, as Chinese health officials reported new “imported” coronavirus cases almost every day, foreigners living in the country have noticed a change. They have been turned away from restaurants, shops, gyms and hotels, subjected to further screening, yelled at by locals and avoided in public spaces. “I’m walking past someone, then they see my blue eyes and jump a foot back,” said Andrew Hoban, 33, who is originally from Ireland and lives in Shanghai. Experiences range from socially awkward to xenophobic. An American walking with a group of foreigners in a park in Beijing saw a woman grab her child and run the other way. Others have described being called “foreign trash”. A recent online article, under an image of ship stacked with refuse being pushed away from China’s coast, was headlined: “Beware of a second outbreak started by foreign garbage.” As China moves towards getting back to normal after months of paralysis, authorities are focused on avoiding a second wave of infections from overseas. In the last seven days, China has reported only six locally transmitted cases but dozens arriving from abroad. By last Thursday, officials had reported a total of 595 imported cases since the outbreak began, the main source being the UK. Observers say the focus on imported cases has led to an increase in anti-foreign sentiment, which according to some has been on the rise for years. “There is an effect when state media are reporting this is a foreign virus,” said Jeremiah Jenne, an American historian living in Beijing. “It is a new variation of a familiar theme: don’t trust foreigners. If there is another flare-up in China, the blame will fall on people coming from outside.” Last Saturday, the country temporarily closed its borders to all foreign arrivals. Officials have also ordered local airlines to maintain only one route per country per week. Some say the focus on foreigners – surprising given that 90% of imported cases were Chinese passport holders, according to the country’s foreign ministry – is the leadership’s attempt to shore up its image. “If there is an opportunity to make themselves look strong, competent and legitimate by capitalising on public anxiety, they’ll take it,” said Mike Gow, a lecturer at Coventry University’s School of Strategy and Leadership. “If that happens to stoke xenophobia, so be it.”
I suppose that is just human nature, as Chinese people across the West have been cruelly targeted by people for spreading the disease, with racial slurs and beatings. Yes, times like this bring out the worst in people and nations.