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Issue #1902      February 10, 2020



Greetings Comrades!

With the advent of the Coronavirus, Sinophobia has returned, and I find myself asking – When will the racism end? Australia has a long history with racism towards Chinese people in particular. During the gold rush, the Buckland riots in Victoria, and the Lambing Flat riots in New South Wales, there were famous examples of Sinophobic actions that endangered the lives of many Chinese diggers.

The Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 (“The White Australia Policy”) at the turn of last century further discriminated against Chinese immigration (among others).

Fast forward towards the end of last century, and Pauline Hanson’s xenophobic rhetoric wins her a seat in parliament where she famously declares in her maiden speech that we are being “swamped by Asians.”

And so now we arrive at the present, where an awful virus has spread, and all we can think about is closing up the borders and locking out the Chinese.

This rhetoric around China and its people is not new and is built upon fearmongering. A lot of people are making claims about this virus but the fact of the matter is, not a lot is known including which animal it originated from or how dangerous it is.

An example of such dangerous rhetoric are the remarks made by reactionaries regarding the Chinese diet, much of which amounts to victim-blaming; “When you eat such ‘exotic’ animals this is to be expected!” Is that so? I wonder how many of these same commentators blamed the British for eating beef during the mad cow disease outbreak? I’d argue none.

The racism on display goes beyond “mere” words. It’s affecting people’s lives. Last week in Sydney, a Chinese man died of a heart attack because people refused to give him CPR.

And how is our government responding to the mass hysteria over the Coronavirus? In the only way it knows how, by enflaming it.

Last week, the Morrison government announced a total ban on the arrival of Chinese nationals into Australia for two weeks. You may think this is a necessary, sensible response to a virus outbreak – But is it?

Australian citizens and permanent residents arriving from China aren’t quarantined but are “screened” by receiving a temperature check at the airport. If your temperature is below thirty-seven degrees you’re good to go! This too is not a surefire measure because the virus may not show symptoms for days. Given that only a portion of those who arrive from China are banned from entering (Chinese Nationals, not Australians) and that the method used to detect the virus doesn’t actually detect the virus, the ban can by all accounts can be considered a dud.

But that was not the point of the ban, was it? This was an opportunity to remake Morrison as a decisive, strong leader in the aftermath of his complete mismanagement of the bushfire crisis. The fact that our government is demonising roughly twenty per cent of the world’s population to do so is not a new endeavour. We’ve seen government after government use other ethnicities as pawns before in order to score political points (remember “Stop the boats!”?).

Prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus many experts were warning of the dangers to privacy over China’s 5G technology, all of which was to paint China as a totalitarian regime hell-bent on world dominance. All of these stories, policy decisions, and rhetoric exist to feed the paranoia of voters about the “Big Other.”

We mustn’t fall prey to these traps. We must ignore the distractions of our governments who are attempting to unite us against an enemy which does not exist. We must unite all workers of all races together and fight against the capitalist class and systemic racism.

Franc Stregone

Next article – Hands off Eureka!

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