THE NETHERLANDS. Nearly 50,000 people have now signed an online petition denouncing discrimination against people of Chinese origin in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak since it was launched at the weekend.
The organisers of the petition ‘We are not viruses’ say jokes and insulting remarks are being directed against people with an Asian appearance because of coronavirus and it is time to call a halt. ‘You don’t make jokes about an illness, a virus,’ the petition states. ‘Should we laugh at a song about cancer?’
Trigger for the petition was a Carnaval song broadcast on Radio 10 with the title ‘Voorkomen is beter dan Chinezen’ (Prevention is better than Chinese). The broadcaster has since apologised.
In total, 57 different Dutch Chinese organisations have also issued a statement condemning the song. ‘We have lived in peace and harmony with everyone in the Netherlands for more than 100 years and we have tolerated many jokes about the Chinese,’ the statement said. ‘But this song has crossed the line.’
Writer Peter Wu says in a column in the Volkskrant there is a persistent idea in the Netherlands that second generation Chinese Dutch ‘should be able to cope with the jokes’ because their parents always kept out of racism debates.
The Chinese community in the Netherlands, some 100,000 strong, is still invisible, he said. ‘It is time to storm the media, editorial departments, mainstream series, advertising, films, politics, talkshows, education and the street,’ Wu wrote.
Last week, health minister Bruno Bruins told MPs he is shocked by the way people in the Netherlands who are of Asian appearance are facing discrimination because of coronavirus.
At the weekend, Chinese students were targeted by vandals who scrawled racist graffiti and smeared excrement in the lift of a block of flats in Wageningen. The slogans in the tower block in Bornsesteeg included ‘Die Chinese’ and ‘Chinese corona’.
Meanwhile, current affairs show EenVandaag is carrying out a viewers’ poll which asks if people are now ‘avoiding people of Chinese appearance’, have stopped eating Chinese food and going to places popular with Chinese tourists.
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