Wuhan’s lockdown was lifted on April 8 and locals appear to have finally been freed from the pandemic that originated in their city. While emerging from grief and rejoicing at their freedom, a reassessment should also be made in order to keep the tragedy from happening again. It is also the only way to calm innocently implicated souls who lost their lives in this disastrous event. Unfortunately, a statement released on the same day stirred concern among the Chinese community.
On April 8, a rising star of Australia’s Labor Party, Jason Yat-sen Li, and a few “prominent” members of the Australian community co-signed an open letter. While the letter highly praises the best of Chinese-Australians, it also condemns “anti-Chinese” voices that are on the rise and that “racism” has become a serious threat to local Chinese. With the pandemic causing lockdowns and Chinese merchants in Australia exporting medical essentials from Australia in large quantities back to China, this letter brings only negativity. Not only that, it won’t resolve racial biases. It is also incapable of winning the mainstream’s trust in the Chinese community.
Everything happens for a reason. It is irresponsible and unconvincing to complain about the outcome without stopping to reflect on the cause. Chinese brought the epidemic from China to Australia; members of the Chinese community then exported massive amounts of epidemic prevention supplies. Australians suddenly found themselves exposed to the risk of COVID-19. So far, no Chinese community association has come forward to apologize to the community, not a single Chinese “socialite” has publicly condemned the CCP for concealing the virus outbreak, not to mention that no “prominent” Chinese-Australians have criticized overseas Chinese leaders for clearing the stocks of essential medical supplies. On the contrary, when the Chinese Embassy condemned the government of Australia for closing the borders to China as an “overreaction,” “representatives” of the Chinese-Australian community supported the embassy’s discourse and opposed the country’s emergency lockdown policy formulated by the government.
I pose a question to Jason and his fellow associates: Why come forward after the lockdown of Wuhan has been lifted? Can’t you see that this happened for a reason? When you try to get into politics but don’t align yourself properly, how can Chinese-Australians believe that you are fighting for their welfare and not speaking on behalf of China?
After Australia implemented “social distancing” rules, the spread of the virus slowed down thanks to the efforts of all Australians. As multiculturalism and harmony are the foundations of Australia, most Australians showed great tolerance in the face of dubious deeds and disregard from some Chinese.
As long as we open our eyes, we can see that Chinese troublemakers or Chinese-insulting Westerners are in the minority. Chinese-Australians, especially those who see themselves as community leaders, should not intentionally create a generalization of individual cases of racism claiming they represent widespread “discrimination,” as this only creates conflict between different ethnic groups.
The people of Wuhan may officially be freed from the epidemic, but there are still increasing numbers of deaths in Europe and America. During this tragedy, the Wuhan people are able to obtain some kind of enlightenment that can prevent this from occurring again; meanwhile, the Chinese government should reflect upon its serious mistakes and misjudgements to give Wuhan and the world an explanation for this pandemic disaster. Whichever way you look at it, this is the responsibility of a government.
However, the Chinese communist government does not have the courage to undertake the responsibility. On the contrary, it tries to create and condemn so called “anti-Chinese” and “discrimination” through grand propaganda strategies that in turn push the entire Chinese community to the front line. This is the real purpose of the “open letter.”
We always pride ourselves that Chinese culture emphasizes etiquette and humility. Unfortunately, in the vast world of modern Chinese, how many Chinese community leaders, socialites, businessman, or scholars truly bear social responsibility? And how many are there who can distinguish between right and wrong, and speak only the truth?
Op-ed by Yan Xia, the chief editor of Vision China Times, an independent Chinese language media in Australia.