Discrimination not true voice in Italy amid COVID-19: overseas Chinese

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/25 23:03:40 Last Updated: 2020/2/25 23:26:58

Tourists wearing masks are seen in Venice, Italy, Feb. 23, 2020. A total of 152 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Italy, including three deaths and one recovery, said Angelo Borrelli, head of the country's civil protection department, on Sunday. The total includes 110 cases in the northern region of Lombardy, 21 in the northeastern region of Veneto, and nine in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, Borrelli said at a televised press conference, adding that an Italian researcher has made a full recovery. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)

Amid rising levels of COVID-19 infection in Italy in the past few days, suspected cases of discrimination against Chinese and Asian people in Italy have been reported, though many living in the country believe these cases are not representative of the true voice of Italian people. 

The Chinese Embassy in Italy has noticed such cases of discrimination and posted notices, Gong Qing, an employee at the publicity department of the embassy, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "We are working with local authorities to safeguard the benefits of Chinese people," Gong said. 

"Discrimination is not mainstream among Italian people," said Li Junhua, Chinese Ambassador to Italy, during a TV interview with RAI 3 on February 20.

"Discrimination comes from panic. During the epidemic, confidence and reason are key points," he said. "I believe the law-enforcement department will make efforts to safeguard the legal rights of the Chinese communities."

A total of 229 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Italy, with seven deaths, the worst level in Europe. The country has locked down 11 towns, the BBC reported.

Li Xinzhu, a Chinese student in Bologna, told the Global Times that most Chinese people she knew had not experienced any discrimination. 

A video went viral on Tuesday among Chinese people in Italy via social media platforms. It showed Francesco Facchinetti, a famous DJ in Italy, stopping two teenagers who were insulting an elderly Asian man in a supermarket in Mariano, a city in northern Italy, on Monday.

Facchinetti saw the teenagers hitting the man. He pulled them back and slapped the youngsters out of anger.

"I have just witnessed the most gruesome scene in my life: 2 boys railing against an elderly Chinese man," Facchinetti wrote on his Twitter afterwards.

In a video Facchinetti posted on Twitter later, the man said in Italian that he was Filipino, not Chinese.

"There are always people who believe in justice," a Chinese netizen commented. "Chinese people should protect themselves."

Previously, Dario Nardella, the mayor of Florence in Italy, started an activity on Twitter on February 1 with the hashtag #AbbracciaUnCinese, which means "Embrace a Chinese person," with the aim of removing the stigma among local people against Chinese amid the coronavirus outbreak. The move was welcomed by many Chinese netizens.


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