Urgent Appeal to the United Nations as Regard to the Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia against people from the People’s Republic of China and other Asian People under the Outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Eng only))


1. Introduction

Society for Community Organization (SoCO) is deeply concerned about all forms of discrimination against any person in the world. As a local human rights watchdog in Hong Kong SAR, China, it is observed that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (now named COVID-19 by World Health Organization) also leads to the spreading of prejudice and racial discrimination against people of Chinese as well as people with an origin of East Asian descent. The racism leads to fear and anxiety against those people and worried that the virus will be spread by them. Worse still, hostile attitude and violent behavior will also be happened among different counties.


In the following urgent submission, SoCO submits an urgent appeal to the United Nations to draw high attention to various human rights mechanisms by summarizing some of the discriminatory acts and behaviors as reported by newspapers and mass media all over the world. It is sincerely requested that further action can be taken by international community on the racism concerned under the outbreak of the virus to prevent any violation of human rights of individuals and destroy of universal values on respect of human rights and humanity in modern world.


Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in December 2019, which originated in the city of Wuhan in Hubei, the People’s Republic of China, there is a tremendous increase in the number of people being infected in China followed by the further spreading as more and more confirmed cases were reported all over the world.1 According to the statistics by John Hopkins University as at 14 February 2020, 64,429 case of Coronavirus COVID-19 have been confirmed, while 63,848 cases were founded in China. Moreover, 1,383 cases were deaths and 7,080 cases were recovered. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is around 2.1%, which is much lower than that of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) happened in 2003 which is around 9% to 10%.


Regardless to its low mortality rate ranging from 2% to 3%2, instead of the higher fatality rate of SARS,3,4
people all over the world generally showed high anxiety under its high spreading effect to the society. It is speculated that the wild animals which people sold as a bushmeat is the host of the transmission of the novel coronavirus from animal to human beings. Although most of the confirmed case were found in China (99%), it is pointless to conclude that all people in China are carrying virus or even using discriminatory wordings, such as “Viral China”, “Virus Chinese” to describe people from China. It blatantly insults and discriminates the people base on national origin and ethnic origin, which clearly violates the international conventions of human rights, including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)5 as well as International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)6 that should be condemned.


The stigma, negative labelling and anti-Chinese atmosphere triggered from the COVID-19 was magnified by the video on social media and internet showing that suspected Chinese consuming a bowl of bat soup.7 It is treated as one of the classic examples showing as an evidence of the “disgusting” Chinese eating habit, though it was produced more than three years before the novel coronavirus epidemic and in Palau, a Pacific island nation where bat soup is a delicacy but not in China in fact.8