China issued a warning on Monday to its citizens against traveling to the United States, claiming that they are likely to be subject to “unfair treatment” because China is the origin country of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism said that “excessive epidemic prevention measures” are making many Chinese people feel uncomfortable. The warning also cites a supposed “security situation” across the country, without explaining what specifically is being compromised.
“Recently, Chinese tourists have been treated unfairly repeatedly in the United States due to excessive epidemic prevention measures and the security situation in the United States,” the statement warns. “The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to effectively raise their awareness of security precautions and not to travel to the United States.”
The statement does not make clear what sort of unfair treatment Chinese people are being subjected to, although increasing public concern over the epidemic has led to some reports of hostility towards people from East Asia. Shocking footage released this month showed a masked woman being attacked at a metro station in Chinatown, New York, by a man calling her a “diseased bitch.”
China has repeatedly accused Washington of reacting excessively to the outbreak. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying recently claimed that the U.S. had “not provided any substantial assistance to the Chinese side so far, but [was] first to evacuate [its] diplomats.” The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send officials from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) only to have their offer rejected.
As a temporary measure, the U.S. recently suspended the entry to all foreign nationals who have traveled to China within the last 14 days, with the exception of the immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The move was denounced by Hua as “creating and spreading panic,” although some U.S. lawmakers have argued the move does not go far enough.
It is likely Russia where Chinese citizens are facing the most scrutiny. This weekend, authorities in Moscow ordered police and security forces to raid hotels, dorms, apartment buildings, and businesses across the city in search of Chinese as they aggressively try to stem the outbreak. Unlike with America, Beijing has issued no travel warning to Russia.
The coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in central Hubei province, has so far infected around 80,000 people, the majority of whom are inside China. The country has effectively been brought to a standstill as a result, with most people staying at home and avoiding excessive physical contact. There is currently a rapidly rising number of cases elsewhere in recent weeks, particularly in Iran, Italy, and South Korea, all of whom have reported dozens of fatalities.