Racism and Covid-19: A Chinese student’s perspective

With the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have experienced discrimination against Chinese students and Chinese communities. Some media are not only deliberately expressing panic, but also publicly playing racial discrimination cards, offending and insulting the Chinese without any bottom line.

The virus was first discovered in China, and there are large numbers of infected people. Although the epidemic is getting under control in China, many other countries are in the outbreak period, and many are blaming the epidemic on the Chinese.

Almost all international students are having difficulty choosing between returning home and being discriminated against.

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article with a title saying China is a real sick man in East Asia, which made me feel very angry.

And I have experienced this racism first-hand.

Before Castleton University closed, I went to the Price Chopper in Rutland. When I walked in, a woman saw me and immediately covered her mouth with clothes and walked away.

This made me aware of the seriousness of discrimination in the epidemic. And the discrimination is widespread.

“Our Chinese classmates have been more or less discriminated against when wearing masks. When I walk in the city center with a mask, someone will cough at me, and even scold me saying ‘go back to China.’ Now, flight information is constantly changing. There is no choice but to pay for high-priced air tickets, like investing in a bottomless pit…” said Ziqi Pei, a Chinese student studying at New York university.

Because of the epidemic, Chinese students who already had a hard time living abroad had to think about whether to leave school and return home.

However, the road to returning home is not easy. The plane tickets cost tens of thousands of RMB, and there’s the risk of not being able to get a graduation certificate or a degree certificate. And some people in China do not understand the risk of infection on the way back is high.

“I didn’t dare to wear masks to go to the streets before, but after the epidemic became much worse, I had to wear the breathing valve masks bought at the airport to go to the streets. When I was on the subway wearing a mask that day, a young man started laughing when he saw my costume. I told him it was okay, I was not sick. He said he knew, said I did a good job, and then continued to laugh. Before he got out of the subway, he said to me, ‘I can still see your smile through a mask!’” said Li Xiao, a Chinese student who lives in California.

This is one of the few warm encounters she encountered after putting on a mask.

Mou Hebe, a Chinese exchange student at Castleton University, said when she went to the supermarket recently, she found that items on shelves such as frozen food and snacks had been snapped up, and even toilet paper was not available.

“The more important issue is security. The awareness of protection is poor here. Except for Chinese students in the school, no one wears a mask. They will think it is an epidemic brought by us, but they will only discriminate against us when they see us. But we didn’t see them have any protective measures. We have no way of knowing whether the people around us are healthy,” Hebe added.

There is no guarantee of personal safety while staying abroad, and returning home is not easy. Many international students pay rent for half a year to a year at a time.

“Choosing to return to China means that rents of tens of thousands RMB a month must be floated, and the economic losses will be heavy. My landlord did not even want to return the entire deposit to me, when I was talking to her about this matter. I almost want to quarrel with her. I think this is very unreasonable,” said Mia Guo, a Chinese student who studied in Korea.

“We clearly did nothing wrong. Human beings are a community of destiny. No one can stay aside when the disaster strikes. Being kind to others is also a way of leaving yourself behind,” she said.


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