A hate crime was committed by a group of teenagers against 4 Chinese students at a private accommodation near Southampton city centre on Tue 17/3/2020. The case was reported to the police promptly. The Chinese Association of Southampton (CAS) and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA-Soton) were also contacted. The CAS, CSSA-Soton and local Chinese residents/students have had a meeting with the student victims and police officers at the Szechuan Kitchen restaurant on Wed 18/3/2020. Student victims were reassured that the community and the police are working closely to support them against any hate crime. Everyone in the U.K. including foreign students are treated equally under the Bristish law. Police has increased the patrol at the vicinity of the affected student accommodation. The University of Southampton has condemned this incident of abuse targeted at members of the student community. The University Wellbeing team are in contact with the students to ensure that they are fully supported.
It is very unfortunate that COVID-19, which was first reported in China, has been linked to the Chinese people. However, not even the World Health Organization (WHO) is able to confirm the original source of COVID-19. As the pandemic worsen, hate crimes against innocent Chinese people has also risen. This is partly due to biased viewpoints by certain personnel as well as fake news and half-truth from social media. China is as big as Europe. Having a few bad people in Europe does not mean that all Europeans are bad. Similarly, finding a few bad Chinese people doesn’t mean that all Chinese people are bad.
At this difficult time, innocent people suffer from hate crime, naive people are misguided by half-truth… However, we are part of a big family, irrespective of skin-colour, language and culture. We all share the same DNA that could be infected by COVID-19. Instead of pointing fingers at certain group of people, we should care for each other as brothers and sisters, as parents and children, as friends and neighbours. The common enemy is COVID-19, not the innocent people on the street who also share the same fear as you and me. The innocent Chinese students suffering from hate crime also have parents, and in fact their parents might be suffering from COVID-19 right now in China.
According to the 2011 Census, the number of Chinese populations was about one percent of the total population. The current population of Southampton is about 250,000 people. We estimate that there are about 2500 Chinese people living in Southampton plus over 3,200 Chinese students from the University of Southampton in the 2019/2020 academic year. Students are very important for the university, in terms of finance and also in research. There are also local Chinese people working in the U.K. as businessmen, doctors, lawyers, professors, police officers etc.
Let us work together for a better world and a better future.
Dr Michael Ng
Chinese Association of Southampton Chairperson