In an effort to counter the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes following the spread of the Coronavirus and heightened rhetoric about China, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) today issued guidance to every member of Congress on how to express opposition to or concerns with policies adopted by China’s government, without inspiring more xenophobia that is already putting Asian American lives at risk.
The guidance advices members to only use the official name of the coronavirus, refer specifically to the governing Chinese Communist Party instead of all Chinese people, and avoid Cold War-style rhetoric.
The messaging guidance to Congress says, “Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, there has been an alarming uptick in hate crimes and incidents targeting the Asian American community due to misconceptions that Asian Americans are more likely to carry the virus and should be blamed for its spread. According to data compiled by various Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate crime reporting websites, there have been over 2,300 anti-Asian American hate incidents reported in just the last few months alone. At its height, nearly 100 hate incidents were being reported each day. And, at the end of March, the FBI warned that, because ‘a portion of the US public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations,’ they expect that ‘hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States… endangering Asian American communities.’”
The document also provides a tool kit with resources for countering anti-Asian hate crimes.
“While there is no doubt that the Chinese government mismanaged their handling of the coronavirus early on, Donald Trump’s use of racial slurs like ‘kung flu’ and ‘Chinese virus’ are a distraction to deflect from his own flawed and delayed response to contain the coronavirus in our country.” Chu said.
But this xenophobic blame shifting also creates a real danger for Asian Americans who are increasingly becoming targets of hate crimes as people misdirect their anger at the virus towards individuals they perceive to be ethnically Chinese.
Chu said the xenophobia is precisely what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of on their COVID-19 website when they instructed everyone to only use the virus’s official name.
“But instead of following the advice of its own experts, the Trump administration has decided on a strategy to recklessly stoke xenophobia and provoke anti-Asian bigotry. And it is only getting worse now as the campaign rhetoric around China further escalates, with many agitating for a new Cold War.”