The outburst laden with grief and anger over the news that Atlanta killings included six Asian women has drawn attention to the rise of anti-Asian violence in the US.
However, it is not just an American problem. The reports of anti-East and anti-Southeast Asian hate crimes have increased everywhere from the UK to Australia and other Western countries as the pandemic outspread this past year.
The past year has witnessed some Western politicians recurrently stressing China’s connection to the Covid-19 outbreak and has also spoken against the Asian superpower. With this kind of environment, supporters say that East Asian and Southeast Asian backgrounds have primarily become a target for racism.
Many European countries, like France, Germany and Belgium, do not collect demographic data on ethnicity for different historical reasons, making it tough to take an exact measure of the scale of the problem.
Hate crime statistics are documented in the UK. As shown by the London Metropolitan Police figures, more than 200 incidents of hate crime against people of East Asian appearance transpired between June and September 202. It is almost a 96% increase in comparison to the same period a year ago.
One such instance, as shared by Peng Wang, a lecturer at Southampton University in southern England, shows that he was physically attacked by four men while jogging near his home.
The men raised racial stains at the 37-year-old, including the “Chinese virus,” as told to CNN. He shared that the men got out of the car after Wang shouted back at them, hitting him in the face and kicking him to the ground. While he suffered minor facial injuries and a nose bleed, the shock of the event made him worry about leaving his home, his future in the UK, and his young son’s security.
“What they did was not civil; it should not happen in today’s society. They just treated me like an animal,” Wangsaid. Police have since arrested two men on suspicion of racially aggravated assault.
As per the polling done in June, it was found that three-quarters of people of Chinese ethnicity in the UK had undergone being called a racial slur.
As the pandemic holding on in Europe, protesters in Spain and France started to notice a problem. Campaigns, such as #NoSoyUnVirus (#IAmNotAVirus), were shaped to raise awareness of the increase in violence against Asians.
In the UK, a Singaporean student Kay Leong shared with CNN that a person selling roses on the street started yelling “coronavirus, coronavirus” at her when she refused to buy flowers.
‘I’m not from China, but I’d imagine all Asians get conflated when it comes to this kind of racism,” she told CNN. “I’ve also noticed more leering. But I will say, this kind of racism or intimidation isn’t new to me, I’ve faced it since I came to London in 2016 for my undergrad [studies].”
Another instance where Kate Ng, a 28-year-old Malaysian-Chinese journalist at British newspaper The Independent, shared that while the attacks in the US seem to be a lot more prevalent, the incidents in the UK have led to a feeling of fear among Southeast Asians.
“I want to go out by myself when there are more people around. But I ask myself: ‘Is it more likely I will be verbally abused or attacked?’ That fear is very palpable,” she said.