China’s President Xi Jinping backs WHO-led International Investigation into COVID Origins

News programs showing China's President Xi Jinping speaking via video to the WHA aired on big screen on Beijing street.

On Monday, May 18, 2020, China’s President Xi Jinping delivered a speech via video backing a WHO-led investigation into the origins of COVID-19, after weeks of opposing the United States’ proposal into said investigation. After Russia, Turkey, and other European and African countries began to support Western inquiries about the virus’ origins, drafts of the suggested resolution focused toward international collaboration on managing the pandemic. Among these countries is also Australia, which China threatened with a boycott of Australian-made products after that country suggested that the WHO should be able to dispatch investigators to emergency sites within China. Some of these threats have been acted on; Australia has since had its beef imports cut and 80 percent tariffs imposed on its barley.

Xi pledged $2 billion in relief aid over two years to help countries in response to the pandemic, as well as an independent evaluation into their response when the pandemic comes to an end. The $2 billion is not currently designated to any particular recipient; however, this amount would eclipse the $893 million the US committed to contributing over 2018 and 2019. Current aid from the US toward the WHO budget has been frozen since April.

The European Union’s draft resolution, supported by over 100 countries, did not mention Wuhan or China, simply asking the WHO to identify the source and route of introduction to humans. The document also ruled out the possibility that the virus was manufactured, as proposed by US officials. 

Information in this post was gathered from the Washington Post article found here, written by Gerry Shih, Emily Rauhala, and Josh Dawsey.

Author: Camryn Thomas

Across the U.S., People Take Action to Stop Anti-Asian Racism

Since COVID-19 made world news, prejudice against people of Asian descent has become more apparent and violent. An increase in Asian-directed hate crimes and discrimination since late December has raised safety concerns for those in the Asian American community. In response, people and organizations have risen up to combat this issue.

In mid-March, Russell Jeung, professor and head of the Asian American Studies department at San Francisco State University, partnered with the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and the organization Chinese for Affirmative Action to launch the website “Stop AAPI Hate,”  which tracks racist crimes reported by users. According to Jeung, in the past two months there have been 1900 reported incidents, and likely more as many incidents go unreported. 

Cities have come together to adopt resolutions in support of Asian American communities against coronavirus-related discrimination. The Irvine City Council’s resolution called on law enforcement to work with state and federal authorities to investigate COVID-19-related hate crimes and threats, and collect and publicly report data on these. The Orange County (CA) Board of Supervisors, along with Garden Grove and Santa Clara County, has also passed resolutions denouncing xenophobia and racism.

“COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not by race or ethnicity,” said Irvine Councilmember Farrah Khan.

“No amount of fear and panic excuses acts of prejudice [and] discrimination,” said Jennifer Wang, chief operating officer of the Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center.

On the East Coast, NCAAT (North Carolina Asian Americans Together), an organization working to support equality, has also offered a way for people to report acts of discrimination during the pandemic. 

Information in this post was gathered from the FOX 10 Phoenix article found here, the Voices of OC article found here, and the WNCT9 article found here.

Link to OC Human Relations form here.

Link to NCAAT bias reporting form here. 


Author: Camryn Thomas


Town of Chapel Hill Expresses Support to Community Members

Town of Chapel Hill Building Integrated Communities partners recently created these videos featuring Police Chief Blue expressing support to community members, particularly residents with Asian ancestry, who have faced racism and discrimination.

Town partners are “committed to being a place for everyone and want our community, including community members of Asian descent, to know that we support them. Please share these videos and let us know if you hear of any incidents of discrimination in the community.”




Mandarin Chinese:


To learn more about resources for immigrants and how local governments are supporting communities during the COVID-19 crisis, visit

Rumor, Chinese Diets, and Covid-19: Questions and Answers about Chinese Food and Eating Habits

Posted by Carolina Asia Center on Thursday, May 14, 2020


A Live, Online Panel sponsored by the Carolina Asia Center and the UNC Department of History.

The current pandemic has brought fresh attention—much of it based on negative stereotypes—to Chinese cultures of food and hygiene. Ranging from debunked rumors of “bat soup” in Wuhan[1] to the eschewing of Asian food in the US early in the pandemic,[2] the diet of an imagined “Chinese people” writ large has become a source of fascination, revulsion, and moral discussion. Alongside a very real concern that bats, pangolins, or another animal may have been the initial reservoir for the deadly COVID-19 virus,[3] a rolling ball of moral concern has “spilled over” to other Chinese eating habits completely unrelated to the Coronavirus outbreak. Questions of hygiene and food culture have a long and storied history in China-global relations, ranging from the hygienic practices of colonial powers in Chinese treaty ports to the xenophobic behavior of California residents who labeled Chinese immigrants as “rat-eaters.”[4] In this panel, three experts on Chinese food history and history of medicine will discuss how and why real public health concerns over sanitary conditions in Chinese wet markets, loosely related health concerns over the consumption of wild animals worldwide, and completely unrelated aspects of the Chinese diet have been bundled into one, dangerously racialized moral discourse in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel will also provide insight on how the reappearance of such a narrative may affect the future of global relations with China.


Michelle King, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Dept. of History

Wendy Jia-Chen Fu, Assistant Professor, Emory University, Dept. of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures

Miranda Brown, Professor, University of Michigan, Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures


Donald Santacaterina, doctoral candidate, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Dept. of History

For referenced materials, please click here.

[3] American Chemical Society. “Missing link in coronavirus jump from bats to humans could be pangolins, not snakes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2020.
[4] Ruth Rogaski, Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty Port China (Berkeley: University of California Pres, 2004). See also Andrew Coe, Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 114.

Filipino American nurses on the front lines

Asian Americans are very well-represented in the ranks of healthcare workers in the United States, and serving on the front lines of the covid-19 health crisis in America is impacting them particularly. The medical and health media outlet STAT recently ran an article about the heavy toll on the Filipino American community, which provides 4% of America’s nurses.

From the article:

Filipinos are famous for, and justly proud of, their nursing acumen. The history of Filipino nurses in the United States is a long and complicated one, a symbiotic relationship borne of war and colonialism, and as some see it, racism and the exploitation of a critical medical workforce that has often been hesitant, because of cultural norms, to complain about poor workplace conditions.

Filipino nurses [are] continuing to go unnoticed even as they take on the most dangerous and wrenching tasks in Covid-19 units, like bathing or suctioning intubated patients and comforting and holding those who are dying without family present. …

But many Filipino nurses feel they are treated as expendable even though their large numbers and work ethic, they say, keep the American health care system functioning. Many also complain about “the bamboo ceiling” that until recently kept Filipino nurses out of positions of leadership. 

Read more here:

Nursing ranks are filled with Filipino Americans. The pandemic is taking an outsized toll on them

Author: Kevin W. Fogg

Malaysia cracks down on migrant workers as part of Covid-19 response

The government of Malaysia, relatively new after a realignment in parliament led to a surprise and controversial new administration at the end of February 2020, has moved to crack down on migrant workers—claiming this is part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, May 1, 2020, the Malaysian government office overseeing immigration conducted raids in areas of Kuala Lumpur with many migrant workers (story in the leading Malaysian government-aligned paper, New Straits Times), rounding up those claimed to be in the country illegally and laying the groundwork to expel them. Many have criticized the way these operations were conducted (story from the BBC), including an observer from Human Rights Watch who said they herding of large groups in close quarters was likely to increase the spread of the virus, not contain it, and Malaysian NGOs that say this will create a culture of fear (story from the online media outlet with old ties to the opposition MalaysiaKini). The government’s explanation (again from the New Straits Times) is that migrant workers would be hard to track and control if they became vectors of infection, so the government must act preemptively. The government is also saying (MalaysiaKini) that those migrants whose paperwork is not in order may leave without any penalties—as long as they get out of Malaysia.

This story has some resonances of the recent second wave of infections in Singapore, which centered on (legal) migrant workers with few health protections living in crowded dormitories (story from Bloomberg). It seems non-citizens are particularly vulnerable at this time because they do not receive health support from the governments in the places where they live, and this is more acute for low-income laborers.

Malaysia has been living under a Movement Control Order (basically, shelter-in-place orders) since March 18, 2020, but the Prime Minister has announced these will be loosened effective May 4 (story from Singapore’s state-backed paper, Straits Times). It is unclear how the round-up of migrant workers may be connected to loosening restrictions as Malaysia hopes to begin opening the economy.

Author: Kevin W. Fogg

“Yellow Peril” & Anti-Asian Prejudice in the Shadow of Coronavirus Panel Video

"Yellow Peril" and Anti-Asian Prejudice in the Shadow of Coronavirus

Thank you all much for joining us for this powerful and insightful panel discussion on "Yellow Peril" and Anti-Asian Prejudice in the Shadow of Coronavirus. The recorded video is below so please feel free to share it with your networks! Slides will be available here: Thank you once again to our amazing panelists Barb Lee, Dr. Heidi Kim, and moderator Sophie To!!!!!

Posted by Carolina Asia Center on Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Since the COVID-19 (popularized as simply “coronavirus”) outbreak began spreading from Wuhan, China in December 2019, anti-Asian prejudice has become painfully visible in daily life, echoing the “Yellow Peril” rhetoric of the 19th century. News and social media are bursting with cruel jokes and misinformation about Asians—from mocking what they eat to assuming that they are agents of contagion. These stereotypes are not only offensive and hurtful; they perpetuate underlying institutionalized racism and xenophobia. This panel will discuss recent episodes of anti-Asian prejudice in historical perspective, and debate how the global coronavirus scare is impacting the conversation.

Panelists: Barbara Lee, Founder and President at Point Made Learning, and Heidi Kim, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, UNC Chapel Hill

Moderator: Sophie Bao-Chieu To, PhD student, Gillings School of Global Public Health