Stereotypes Spread Faster Than Coronavirus



Stereotypes word cloud on a white background.

Erika Yang, Writer

When I read the news about my country that is constantly updated by CNN these days, there is a strange, indescribable feeling I sense because I  never expected this breaking news to talk about a fatal virus battle that is happening in my own country.

The coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China and soon was confirmed in 28 other countries (CNN). So somehow, the coronavirus became a Chinese virus, which is very misleading and full of stereotypes.

Full of outdated prejudice and discrimination, Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten changed the five stars in the Chinese national flag into five coronaviruses; German Der Spiegel magazine titled an issue, “Coronavirus, Made in China;” Australian Herald and Daily Telegraph newspaper used “Chinese Virus Pandemonium” and “China Kids Stay Home” respectively, and the Wall Street Journal published an opinion passage called “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.” It seems to me that many media outlets focused more on the fact that the coronavirus originated in China and magnified that immensely rather than more on the latest information about the virus, such as how it is spreading, what kinds of medicines are practical, or what scientists and doctors are recommending, etc.

These distorting passages used incorrect and eye-catching titles, indirectly attributed the disaster to Chinese people themselves, to a specific ethnic group, and agitated anti-Chinese forces. Do some of these media organizations, I wonder, really hold their professional ethics to news, or do they just seek profit and more page view volume? 

It is understandable that the fear towards the coronavirus will lead to an unconscious bias towards Chinese people. But under these circumstances corrupted, misleading news will only arouse and increase the fear, and root stereotypes much more deeply. However, this will never be an excuse for violence, attacks or racism against Chinese and Asian people.