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Too scared to walk alone: racism spikes against Chinese community

BRITAIN’S Chinese community are “too scared to venture out alone” due to rising levels of racist abuse linked to the coronavirus pandemic, a report reveals today.

The abuse has forced people of Chinese heritage to withdraw from society in Britain, research led by Profesor Binna Kandola has warned.

Chinese people have been coughed at, attacked and told to “go back home,” according to the academic.

Prof Kandola found that experiences range from casual jokes to violent attacks and death threats, with people left too frightened to venture out alone and children ridiculed by their peers.

An NHS doctor, who works in her local hospital’s respiratory unit, said she stopped her daily morning jog because of abuse.

Another woman said she was so alarmed, she began wearing a label which read: “Please don’t fear me – I don’t have the virus.”

And one family had to withdraw their four-year-old boy from a football club after other parents told their children not to stand close to him.

Prof Kandola said the racist attacks were a way some people sought to address their fears, but added that many victims felt there was also a deeper underlying racism and a lack of concern from others.

He said: “The effect it is having on everybody is they feel more threatened, they feel far more wary about going out.

“One person said the abuse they received made them wary, even about going out into their own neighbourhood, where they had previously felt very safe.

“People have withdrawn, and were withdrawing before the lockdown occurred.”

Some people who have lived in Britain their whole lives are questioning “whether people of Chinese heritage will ever be accepted as British,” Prof Kandola added.

The report also noted that Chinese restaurants and takeaways have had abusive notices placed on their windows and doors, affecting business even before the lockdown.

Jenny Pattinson, a mixed-raced businesswoman who responded to the research, said she is too scared to return to work when the lockdown measures are eased after being spat on during her commute at London Waterloo station.

She said that racist behaviour and comments are “just a day-to-day reality for Chinese people and [Covid-19] has made it a lot worse.”

Ms Pattinson, who has a Chinese mother and Scottish father, said it is sad that there has been no high-level condemnation from the British government, especially after comments from US President Donald Trump about Covid-19 being a “Chinese virus.”

She urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to speak out, adding: “I think there needs to be somebody standing up and saying this isn’t right.”

Other shocking findings include a person who received a letter accusing them of spreading the infection and threatening damage to their home if they did not sell it to an English family.

And a mother found her six-year-old daughter in tears after she was told Chinese people were to blame for her school closing.

Police have also recorded a sharp rise in hate crimes against Chinese people, latest figures show.

Between January and March, when the pandemic was beginning in Europe, at least 267 reports of hate crime were made across Britain.

Labour MP and anti-racism campaigner Diane Abbott said: “All forms of racism are unacceptable.  

“I would like to hear ministers condemn it unreservedly.”

A Stand Up To Racism campaign spokesperson said: “These distressing findings show the effect of the racism that has been whipped up during this pandemic from Donald Trump’s ‘Chinese virus’ comments to attempts in media outlets to blame the Chinese people and their culture for the spread of the virus.

“It’s vital we recognise this racism for what it is, and stand together with all communities being scapegoated for the failure of our own government to control this pandemic.”


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