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Chinatown Restaurants Suffer Downturn After Coronavirus Outbreak Mutates Into Racist Assumptions

A BBC report details how “concern” about the virus quickly mutates into something much more dangerous

Chinatown London reports Coronavius downturn Getty Images

Visit Chinatown and eat well

Restaurateurs behind some of Chinatown’s best restaurants have detailed the downturn in business and upturn in racist abuse and assumptions occasioned by the coronavirus outbreak. Jinli general manager Martin Ma told the BBC that “it’s a hard time,” estimating that the Newport Place site lost £15,000 over last weekend thanks to cancelled bookings and a massive drop in walk-ins; another restaurant manager anonymously said that “people are scared, they are staying away.”

This “fear” — ungrounded in science, debunked by public health bodies’ advice on coronavirus, and linked to a spread of misinformation and exaggeration about the source of the outbreak at a Wuhan wet market, is summarised by Eater’s Jenny Zhang as a manifestation of racist prejudices that “frame Chinese people as uncivilized, barbaric “others” who bring with them dangerous, contagious diseases and an appetite for dogs, cats, and other animals outside the norms of Occidental diets.” A global health emergency is cause for some alarm, sure, but not such that quickly mutates into racist assumptions and places and people. There is no reason whatsoever to avoid London’s Chinatown: go, support the restaurants, and eat well. [BBC]

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