Do COVID-19 restrictions on travelers from China reflect bias rather than science?
While others are concerned the bans could lead to discriminatory behavior, experts say it is “extremely improbable” that travel restrictions on people from China with a rise in COVID infections could help battle the virus.
Chinese citizens are extremely upset about what some see as a selective application of science in the recent imposition of COVID-19 restrictions on travelers from China by more than a dozen countries.
Several nations, including France, Italy, Japan, and the United States, have imposed requirements on visitors from China, such as pre-departure negative tests, on-arrival testing, and fever monitoring.
Beijing retaliated by stopping the issuance of short-term visas to South Korean citizens after South Korea went one step further and announced it would impose visa restrictions on Chinese nationals.
“Some nations have enacted entrance restrictions that only apply to travelers from China. The spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, Mao Ning, stated earlier this month that this lacked scientific support.
After unexpectedly abandoning the nation’s stringent “zero-COVID” approach and removing travel restrictions, China has seen a dramatic increase in COVID instances and fatalities over the past month.
The Chinese government reported that between December 8 and January 12, 60,000 people perished from the illness, though even that number may be an underestimation of the total death toll.
Despite this, scientists and civil rights organizations have expressed concern over what they perceive to be COVID restrictions that favor China.
Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of the US-based Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate (Stop Asian AAPI Hate) organization, told Al Jazeera that the organization was “extremely concerned” about how this new policy would endanger Asians and Asian Americans.
Kulkarni stated in an email that “our prior president (Donald Trump) announced a China travel ban that is identical to the one in force today in 2020, at the start of the pandemic.”
In the US, hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans increased as a result of Trump’s visa restriction and his casual anti-China comments, according to Kulkarni. These crimes “continue to damage our communities to this day.”
The COVID-19 pandemic political rhetoric gave rise to instances of anti-Asian scapegoating, according to a report issued by AAPI Hate in October.
Kulkarni argued that “misinformation and disinformation that link Asian Americans with sickness” must stop.
“Elected officials must support public health measures that maintain the safety of our communities to avoid harming Asians and Asian Americans.”