Essay by Juntong Liu
Abstract:: This is an essay focusing on the blaming victims during Covid-19. My research question is how and why blaming victims exists during the pandemic. Covid-19 is originated in Wuhan, China and was found in December 2019. This virus can be fatal, and it has a fast rate for spreading. The Chinese government locked down the city of Wuhan for safety. This policy caught attention from people all over the world.
In this essay, I first talked about the blame game that happened in China in the beginning of the outbreak. People in China blamed Wuhan people for causing the coronavirus because Covid-19 might be because of eating wild animals. Then, I zoomed out to a global scale to look at the blaming game that happened all around the world. In many western countries, anti-Asian racism is prevailing during the pandemic. First, since coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, people blame China for causing this virus and spread to the world. Second, there are many misleading theories on social media and even traditional media that send out conspiracies such as the “bat soup”. People believed that the cause for coronavirus is because Chinese people eat “bat soup”. Third, President Donald Trump called coronavirus “Chinese virus” or “China virus” which led American people to blame China for this virus. Therefore, many American people blamed China for Covid-19. Fourth, Asian-Americans are also blaming the victims. They were being mistreated both verbally and physically. Not only Asian-Americans have to be cautious of the virus, but also, they have to face the threat from racism.
The reason for the blame game has many reasons during this special time. In this situation, people blame others because they are panicking and have no knowledge about the situation. Unlike other blame games, everyone in this situation is victim under Covid-19. Chinese people are the first group of victims in this Pandemic, so people blame Chinese people for causing it.
In December 2019, a group of cases of pneumonia with unknown reason was found in Wuhan, China. This pandemic is called Covid-19 and it started to ravage China at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. The Coronavirus can be fatal especially for the minority groups such as children and elders, and the speed of outbreak was incredibly fast. The Chinese government decided to lockdown Wuhan city to control the outbreak as soon as possible. Locking down the city means no transportation can go in and out of Wuhan; almost all shops and services have to shut down; everyone needs to be at home and keep a safe social distance. Suddenly, Wuhan city transformed from a vibrant city to an empty city. This policy of locking down Wuhan city caught attention from all over the world since no such policy have ever been implemented.
Because of the fatality rate and the government policy in China, Chinese people were panicked about the Coronavirus. An expert in China claimed that there is a large possibility that Coronavirus is caused by eating wild animals. Therefore, even the reason why Coronavirus existed was still unknown, people blamed the Wuhan people for causing this virus stating that Wuhan people eat wild animals or sea food that are not being processed. During the beginning of the Pandemic, I always scroll down the social media, searching for information about the virus. Sometimes I can see few comments saying that people who have Coronavirus are unethical because they eat wild animals. Such statements have no credibility at all but only can hurt people who are the victims. It is blaming the victim: “Claiming a bad situation is the result of the victim’s own actions, thus avoiding the need to look for the social forces which might be causing the situation”(Buck 2016, 21).
Fortunately, the blame game did not last for long in this pandemic in China. Chinese people unite together to fight against the virus later on. However, the outbreak soon spread to the whole world. The blame game elevated to a global scale. Many “infodemic” misinformation appeared on the social media platforms and even the traditional media targeted to blame Chinese people, or even Asian people. Many topics such as “Wuhan Lab”, “Bioweapon”, and “bat soup” articles popped up in the media. Articles about “Wuhan Lab” and “Bioweapon” contain a volume of 29,312 which has a frequency 2.6% in media coverage. “Bat soup” contains a volume of 6163 which has a frequency of 0.6% in media coverage (Evanega, Lynas, Adams, Smolenyak, 2020). A Chinese governor also promoted a conspiracy stating that Coronavirus is brought by the U.S. military instead of originated in Wuhan (Vazquez, 2020).
According to BBC, the “bat soup” conspiracy was started by a video of a Chinese girl filmed a video of introducing a custom of eating bats in Palau dated back to 2016. She commented “taste like chicken meat”. This clip of video was a hot topic on the internet all over the world. “Although bats have been named in recent research from China as a possible source of the virus, bat soup is not particularly commonplace in the country and the investigations into its exact origins continue” (BBC, 2020). The “Bat Soup” event indicated a racial discrimination against Chinese people. This meme down below is from Reddit. It is very offensive, and this is absolutely racism. In reality, in China, eating bats is an unacceptable behavior for people as well.
In the U.S., people blame Chinese not only because China is where the coronavirus originated and the Chinese government’s strict policy of lockdown, but also because President Trump has been called Coronavirus as “Chinese virus” or “China virus”. He also denied that this term is a racist term by saying “It’s not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that’s why. I want to be accurate,” Trump said (Vazquez, 2020). The usage of this phrase emphasizes blaming China for the virus. The U.S. government is leading the U.S. people to blame China for this virus. The media in the U.S. also used terms such as “Wuhan virus”, “Asian virus” also influenced American people. “On March 8, 2020, there was a 650% increase in Twitter retweets using the term “Chinese virus” and related terms” (Darling-Hammond et al., 2020). Therefore, the anti-Asian racism was so prevailing in the U.S.
Not only Chinese people are the ones blamed, Chinese Americans are also victim-blamed as well. In many western countries, the anger and discrimination against Asian people, especially Chinese American people raised up as the amount of cases of Coronavirus increases. During the Pandemic, Asian people are being treated cruelly as they were being “spit on, yelled at, attacked”. “Chinese-Americans face a double threat. Not only are they grappling like everyone else with how to avoid the virus itself, they are also contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks” (Tavernise and Oppel Jr., 2020). Yuanyuan Zhu is a Chinese American who moved from China to America for 5 years now. As she was walking to the gym on March 9th, she heard a man yelling at her. She wanted to keep social distance with him, but she had to stop at the traffic light with the man. Then the man spit on her face and her sweatshirts (Tavernise and Oppel Jr. 2020). The Asian Americans including Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese Americans are being abused as well during Covid-19.
In many cases, blaming others is because the reasons behind the bad situations are unclear. Even though there is blaming and anger during this pandemic, I have seen more positive attitudes from all over the world to fight against the virus. Under the circumstance of Covid-19, everyone is victims. This is a war for all humankind and we should unite together to fight against it. No one should be blamed.
Buck, P. D. (2016). Chapter 1, A New Pair of Glasses. In In/equality: An alternative anthropology (pp. 21-72). Palo Cedro, CA: CAT Pub.
B. (2020, January 30). China coronavirus: Misinformation spreads online about origin and scale. Retrieved October 25, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-51271037
Darling-Hammond, S., Michaels, E. K., Allen, A. M., Chae, D. H., Thomas, M. D., Nguyen, T. T., . . . Johnson, R. C. (2020). After “The China Virus” Went Viral: Racially Charged Coronavirus Coverage and Trends in Bias Against Asian Americans. Health Education & Behavior, 109019812095794. doi:10.1177/1090198120957949
Evanega, S., Lynas, M., Adams, J., & Smolenyak, K. (n.d.). Coronavirus misinformation: Quantifying sources, and themes in the COVID-19 “infodemic.
Kumar, A., & Nayar, K. R. (2020). COVID-19: Stigma, discrimination, and the blame game. International Journal of Mental Health, 1-3. doi:10.1080/00207411.2020.1809935
Tavernise, S., & Oppel, R. (2020, March 23). Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/us/chinese-coronavirus-racist-attacks.html
Vazquez, M. (2020, March 24). Trump says he’s pulling back from calling novel coronavirus the ‘China virus’. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/24/politics/donald-trump-pull-back-coronavirus-chinese-virus/index.html