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China Daily Global / 2021-04 / 08 / Page011

Zero tolerance to hate crimes

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-04-08 00:00

Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been skyrocketing in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic began.

A report released last month by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University found that anti-Asian hate crimes surged nearly 150 percent in 2020, while hate crimes fell by 7 percent overall. A separate group, Stop AAPI Hate, cataloged nearly 3,800 hateful incidents against Asians in the US-which is not limited to crimes-during the first year of the pandemic. Most of these hateful incidents targeted women.

The plight of Asian Americans has sparked anger and concern and prompted US President Joe Biden to say that "too many Asian Americans walk the streets worrying, waking up every morning this year fearing for their safety, the safety of those close to them. They have been attacked, blamed, scapegoated, harassed". The phenomenon as he observed is certainly a disgrace for a country that has always taken pride in its self-assumed role as the global protector of human rights, but little action has been taken.

Fears of the virus, along with misinformation about its origin, have been blamed for the sharp increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the US. Yet there is no denying the fact that some US politicians have exploited the public health crisis to stoke anti-Chinese sentiment, thus fueling racial discrimination against Asian Americans, for their own political gains.

The previous US president Donald Trump repeatedly used racist terms such as "Chinese virus" and "Kung Flu" to describe the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, which many believe are directly responsible for the rise in anti-Asian sentiment. "That term (Kung Flu) plays on a racist stereotype in itself and is being used to stigmatize a community regarding a medical issue that all of the world should be rallying around," John C. Yang, the president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said.

This is not the first time Asian Americans have been subjected to xenophobia and discrimination. The notorious Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred existing Chinese Americans from becoming US citizens even after they had helped build the transcontinental railway, is a dark stain on the country's past.

Biden has so far signed an executive order to condemn and combat racism against Asian Americans, and Washington certainly needs to do more to ensure justice and equality for all on its land before preaching to other countries how to best protect their citizens' rights.

So long as there are acts of violence targeting Asian Americans, or people of any race, everyone has to speak out loudly against hate crime and prejudice because they are intolerable in any civilized society.


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