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COVID 19 scare: Chinese students escaping UK amid racist attacks

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 22 Mar 2020

Beijing/London: Amid reports of racist attacks triggered by so-called 'maskaphobia', several Chinese students are attempting to 'flee' the United Kingdom to reach their home country, media reports said.

Some students have returned but many are still trying to grab a seat in a flight where tickets are available in inflated prices.

There are also reports that some are trying to book private jets to get home, The Guardian newspaper reported.

“I was a bit shocked by how quickly the UK is hit by the coronavirus,” Tao Wang, a politics PhD student at the University of Manchester told The Guardian. “Many Chinese students are now fleeing back to China, and I have been struggling to make a decision.”

Wang told the newspaper many in the Chinese student community believed they would now be safer in China than in the UK, and their families were begging them to return.

“I think people are very suspicious about the [UK] government measures. Here, until now, we’ve seen some soft measures calling for people to wash their hands. As a Chinese student you expect more draconian measures,” Wang said.

Amid COVID 19 crisis, Chinese students also reported an increase in the number of racist attacks faced by them.

Yinxuan Huang, a sociology research fellow at City University London, has been conducting research among Chinese Christian communities in the UK, who have been supporting Chinese students during the coronavirus crisis, told The Guardian: "Almost all incidents they reported were associated with ‘maskaphobia’."

“Most of the victims – some got called ‘virus’ and others got shoved – were wearing masks when attacked," Huang said.

“Many Chinese students feel that the issue of the mask is the single biggest cultural shock they have ever experienced in the UK. They are now facing a dilemma and have to choose between two bad choices - insecurity (for coronavirus) and fear (for racism)," added Huang.

A 26-year-old Chinese postgraduate student, also in Manchester, are ordering food online.

“We are not only afraid of coronavirus, but the violence brought by racism is also much more scary now. I have got the feeling I am an outsider in the UK. And now I finally find we are not welcomed by British people. Diversity sounds like a joke," the student told the newspaper.

A growing number of Chinese students are currently studying in the UK.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number rose above 120,000 for the first time last year, up from 89,000 in 2014-15, reported The Guardian.

Wang told the newspaper: “International students choose to study abroad in countries like the UK for a reason. That is, they believe that this is a place that values tolerance, equality, diversity and rule of law. The growing coronavirus-related racism is truly disturbing."

China is considered as the epicentre of the disease from where the outbreak occurred. Now, it has hit several countries across the globe.




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