Anti-China actions amid epidemic should be punished

By Wang Cong, Global Times (5 February 2020) – China is in a race against a deadly virus that has already killed more than 420 people and infected over 20,400 more. Amid this struggle, we have seen some vastly different reactions from different parts of the world.

We have heard countless stories about foreign nationals voicing their support for China in its battle against the coronavirus epidemic, and many have offered a helping hand. 

Such compassionate reactions – from the donation of one dollar to millions of dollars’ worth of urgently needed supplies – should and will be cherished.

However, we have also seen some disturbing developments in some corners of the world which are not only counterproductive to containing the virus, but also amount to discrimination and even racism against Chinese nationals and overseas Chinese.

Despite the World Health Organization’s recommendation against limiting trade and travel, some governments have banned Chinese nationals from entering their borders. Without proper knowledge of the virus, some foreign individuals and groups have spread rumors and conspiracy theories with racist connotations about China, and have discriminated against Chinese nationals by barring them from stores, restaurants and other establishments. 

While necessary measures taken by foreign governments, groups and individuals to protect themselves from the virus are understandable, China should be alarmed by any malicious actions and prepare to take countermeasures if necessary.

It is important to note that the US government has played a major – if not the chief – role in instigating such actions. The US was the first to ban Chinese citizens from entering its borders. 

The US government has not provided any substantive assistance to China in its battle against the virus, according to Chinese officials. Some US officials have even doubled down on their sinister smear campaign against China during this critical time, and have sown panic around the world.

It would be irresponsible to blame the US government for all malicious actions around the world in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. But at the very least, it has set a poor example for other countries. 

However, it is also important to make a distinction between responses from the US government and US society. There is no shortage of US ordinary citizens and professionals who have voiced support for China or even joined in the fight. As of January 29, US companies had donated a total of more than 155 million yuan ($22.15 million) to China’s efforts to combat the epidemic, according some estimates.

As the all-out battle against the virus at home continues to intensify, it is crucial that China is aware of the importance of protecting its national interests and citizens overseas and takes concrete steps to respond by rewarding good deeds and punishing ill-intentioned actions.

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