Racist attacks spike in Australia, with anti-China politicians calling themselves ‘Wolverines’

By Liu Tianliang in Canberra Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/28 22:12:23

A Chinese tourist buys clothes at store in Sydney, Australia. File photo: cnsphoto

Despite a campaign by a local Australian government targeted at xenophobia, Chinese observers said the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling racist attacks against Chinese and Asian communities in the country, partly due to the country's deep-rooted racism, which can be seen in a group of anti-China politicians who call themselves "Wolverines."

A report on Wednesday in The Australian said the government of New South Wales carried out the Stop Public Threats campaign in response to a spike in racist incidents targeting Asian Australians as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, observers are not optimistic about the success of the campaign, noting that racism is deeply rooted in Australian society.

Australian think tank Per Capita released a survey which shows that 81 percent of the respondents experienced attacks related to the coronavirus, among which 61 percent of the incidents included racist insults and abuse. The think tank's research fellows said the Chinese community has especially  been affected.

Australia has made some efforts to curb the racist attacks but gained little. Observers noted that mainstream society in Australia barely pays attention to discrimination against Chinese and Asian groups, which has also fueled racist incidents. Moreover, it is difficult to obtain evidence against such crimes. 

The words "CHINA = COVID" were found written on the wall of a house on Sunday in a Chinese community in Sydney. The owner of the house is said to be a Chinese who was not at home.

The Per Capita survey said 88 percent of incidents are committed by people the victims do not know. Also, such incidents are in legal limbo, so the offender escapes punishment even if the victim calls the police, observers said.

Chinese observers in Australia said they found few reports about the incidents in Australian media, while many outrageous incidents of racial discrimination spread in local Chinese media. 

For example, local Chinese media reported that some Chinese families have seen their homes vandalized, some were abused on public transportation, and others beaten for wearing masks. The prevalence and severity of the situation is greatly underestimated by Australian society, observers said.

In Australia, respecting the rights of original residents is "politically correct" while being anti-China is also "politically correct," observers noted.

In 2019, infamous Australian right-wing politicians Andrew Hastie, James Paterson and Kimberley Kitching formed a bipartisan group called the "Wolverines" to speak out against China.

The group pasted their logo - four wolf claw marks - on office windows around Parliament House.

Australian media, which has decried China's "wolf warrior diplomacy," has praised "the Wolverines."

Some scholars have pointed out that the current anti-China sentiment is the revival of the "white Australia policy," which is also the reason why racial discrimination in Australian society is difficult to eradicate. Andrew Jakubowicz, an honorary professor of sociology at University of Technology Sydney, said that although the racist attacks against Chinese and other Asians during the coronavirus would backfire, racism remains strong among political parties, mass media, and many other fields.

The "white Australia policy" was aimed at preventing people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians (primarily Chinese) and Pacific Islanders, from immigrating to Australia.

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