The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting all our families, our businesses, our communities, and our way of life. Our hearts go out to anyone who’s been impacted by the virus, either directly or indirectly. Our thoughts are with you. We are sending our heartfelt wishes for a full recovery to those who are sick, and our appreciation to those frontline healthcare workers who are saving lives.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen not only the spreading of the virus but also a rapid spreading of racism and xenophobia.
As the U.S. and China engage in a geopolitical tussle, and amidst a global pandemic scare, Chinese-Americans are caught in a tenuous situation. It is unproductive for President Trump to repeatedly call it “The Chinese Virus” and the media repeating this phrase as if “Chinese” is somehow directly related to the virus. It is also not beneficial for Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, to speculate this virus was brought to China by U.S. Military athletes in October 2019 during the World Military Games in Wuhan, China without any evidence. In fact, it is highly unlikely that an infection spread during an international event in which over 140 countries participated and later would only explode in one country.
Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) strongly opposes both sides’ false accusations and pleads for toning down rhetoric detrimental to positive bilateral relations. As the world’s number one and two economies, this could escalate into economic, cultural, and even military conflicts. Furthermore, while ostensibly, this is between the U.S. and China, most people in the U.S. cannot distinguish between those of East Asian heritage and Chinese ancestry, and there have been reports of attacks on other Asian Americans related to the virus outbreak.
NBCnews.com stated that “While viruses and other pathogens do not discriminate between hosts based on race, ethnicity or immigration status – stigma and misinformation certainly do.”
APAPA is gratified that more than 70 Jewish organizations from across the U.S., including the rabbinical bodies of the four major branches of Judaism, signed a letter of support for Chinese Americans and Chinese communities https://www.jewishpublicaffairs.org/a-letter-of-support-to-our-friends-in-the-chinese-american-and-chinese-communities/.
Despite the warning from the World Health Organization against using terms that stigmatize groups of people, such as in https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/covid19-stigma-guide.pdf, some of our national leaders, President Trump and Congressman Kevin McCarthy in particular, continue using the term Chinese coronavirus instead of using the proper scientific term COVID-19.
APAPA condemns these irresponsible actions. We call for both President Trump and Congressman McCarthy to apologize immediately, http://bit.ly/AskHim2Apologize and for all Asian Americans to use our Action Kit (call script, email template, tweet sample) at http://bit.ly/Kit-Ask4Apology.
On March 17, 2020, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued a press release asking all leaders to stick to expert guidance and not spread xenophobia as lives depend on it:
The New York City Police Department is investigating several cases of potential hate crime attacks on Asian-Americans in recent days, and Asian-Americans across the country have reported experiencing heightened discrimination, bullying and harassment.
Also on March 17, Assemblymember David Chiu sent a letter to California Governor, Gavin Newsom, asking for his administration to confront this xenophobia by partnering with state agencies to send the message to Californians that acts of discrimination, stereotyping and bullying of groups of people due to the coronavirus may violate civil rights and must not be tolerated.
“We call on both sides to avoid language that causes further division between China and the U.S. The [COVID-19] virus does not discriminate and is now affecting numerous countries. The responsible thing to do is to join forces in our fight against the common enemy – COVID-19, not fight each other”, says Dr. Ken Fong, APAPA Chairman and C.C. Yin, APAPA Founder and Chair Emeritus.
As you’ve heard from the news, San Francisco Bay Area authorities issued a “shelter in place” order as of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday 3/17. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, described the potential infection of millions and an overwhelmed health care delivery system.
Dr. Albert Wang, an Internal Medicine Doctor practicing in Fremont CA, who is also APAPA’s National Governing Board Vice-Chair, provided the following advice: “During times like this, we need accurate and timely information. Unfortunately, today’s main mode of communication, social media, is inundated with misleading information. It is imperative that we only pass on reliable and useful information in a timely fashion, and refute bad information intended to collect clicks and profits on social media. In maybe 10 days, if we can test many people for the coronavirus, we should see the real growth in new positive cases. PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD pieces you don’t fully understand. It’s not without cost even if the message is benign. It’ll drown out other valuable posts people should read.”
APAPA issued a press release to share facts about coronavirus and how you can help to prevent the spread of the virus:
If you want to get up to date information about the number of global cases of coronavirus COVID-19, visit the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins website: http://bit.ly/COVID19Data.
Take good care of yourself. BE SAFE. STAY HOME IF POSSIBLE and WASH HANDS OFTEN.