'Chinophobia' spreads as fast as the coronavirus does

The outbreak of Coronavirus in China has caused people across the planet to see the citizens of this country as latent enemies against the world's public health.

Medical staff measures the temperature of a Wuhan resident.

Medical staff measures the temperature of a Wuhan resident. / Photo: Getty images

LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez

Listen to this article

Leer en español: 'Chinofobia' se propaga tan rápido como el coronavirus

According to the National Health Commission of China, since the first case of coronavirus was made public in the city of Wuhan (last December 31), and until last February 4, this infection had already killed 490 citizens, list that was part of the more than 24 thousand infected (24,324) that at that time flooded the hospitals of the Asian country.

However, this virus has not been reduced to the Chinese territory, but, according to the Spanish Radio Television (RTVE), there are already 28 countries that have been affected by the so-called 'Wuhan pneumonia'. There have been deaths in the Philippines and Hong Kong (the latter registered as a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China).



That is why, on Thursday, January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to "declare a public health emergency of international importance", as dictated by the minutes of the second meeting of the Emergency Committee of the International Health Regulations on the outbreak of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which took place that day.

You may be interested: What is an international health emergency?

This decision has only one meaning: WHO considers that the new coronavirus should no longer be seen as a public calamity only by the Chinese Government, but as a health problem that requires “global solidarity” and “a coordinated global effort to improve preparation in other regions that may need more help in this regard”.



Phobia to the Chinese?

However, the message of companionship that WHO presented has contrasted with that of rejection that is growing day by day in the world population against Chinese citizens and the culture of this country; thought that has been fueled by some fallacies that circulate in social networks.

The Internet has been one of the most important variables in the formation of public opinion in the face of the most relevant issues in the 21st century, and in this case it has not been the exception. Through videos, memes, and personal blogs, people from all over the world have helped feed the 'fake news' that have triggered a xenophobia towards the Chinese community.



Thus, this antipathy towards the Orientals, also known as 'chinophobia', has resulted in an irrational fear of contracting 2019-nCoV if there is any contact with the Chinese community, either by direct approach with one of its citizens or the contact with any of the products that are manufactured in that country and that are exported abroad.

In fact, in front of this last point, a conspiracy has been created that has as its main foundation the animated series 'The Simpsons', in its chapter Marge in chains (season 4, chapter 21). In the series there is a contagion of the inhabitants of the fictional city of Springfield with a type of flu, called 'Osaka Flu', after opening the boxes containing products shipped from the Asian continent to the United States.



Consequently, the use of 'Aliexpress' or 'Wish' has been practically demonized, low cost applications that base its operation on the sale of products exported from China. Some clients have in their minds the idea that the virus could be incubated in packages sent from Asian territory, which would mean recreating the 'tragedy' that the inhabitants of Springfield experienced in 1993.

For this reason, it has been the same WHO that denied this theory, stating that "previous analyzes show that coronaviruses do not survive for a long time on objects, such as letters or packages." That is, although the virus can adhere to objects, it does not survive by not being in a living being.

Like this, there are other myths against the Chinese, such as the type of food they consume, branded by many as "unhygienic", are responsible for the transmission of the virus, with the bat as the main protagonist; or even that the outbreak began synthetically in a Wuhan laboratory.



However, experts, such as the head of business of the Chinese embassy in Spain, Yao Fei, say that the media inventions that exist against China must transcend to a lower level, because, after all, "the coronavirus has no passport and the common enemy is the virus, not the Chinese. "