Are Asians Discriminated In Germany Since The Outbreak Of The Corona Virus? If you look at social networks, the answer is yes. Do they represent reality? A visit to the Asian community.

“I don’t have time now. You see what’s going on here. Come back later.” The woman who cooks in the open kitchen of the Asian supermarket with an integrated restaurant is under stress. So she answered the question anyway. Have people in Germany been avoiding Asian supermarkets and restaurants since the Corona outbreak? No – at least they don’t avoid this business.

It is the first of more than a dozen Asian shops, restaurants and beauty salons that we visit in Bonn that day. Bonn, the city of 320,000 inhabitants in western Germany, is popular with Asian tourists. Because Bonn is Beethoven city. The birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven is in the heart of the city. The world-famous composer is particularly revered in Asia and ensures that many Asian tourists visit the city on the Rhine – all the more so since Beethoven’s 250th birthday is celebrated with many events this year. Therefore, you can see quite a few Asian tourists in Bonn – and also various Asian shops. One of the other of Bonn could worry that the tourist flow from Asia will make the coronavirus jump to Bonn,

Asian supermarket Bonn (DW / M. Müller)One of many Asian shops in Bonn

“I’m not a virus”

Social media shows how Asians have been discriminated against in various countries since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Under the French hashtag #JeSuisPasUnVirus, the English #IAmNotAVirus or the German #IchBinKeinVirus, you can read how passers-by change the street when an Asian-looking pedestrian crosses the way, how Asians are not served in certain restaurants or insult them as virus carriers – or that guests stay away from Asian restaurants. Are these isolated cases or do these cases describe the current everyday life of Asians in Germany?

Coronavirus pervasive

One thing quickly becomes clear: the coronavirus is one of the dominant topics. When you visit a pharmacy on the outskirts of Bonn’s city center, you will immediately notice a notice posted at the cash register, which provides information about the virus – and warns of scaremongering. There it says: “The fact that wearing mouth-nose protection in public significantly reduces your own risk of infection has not been scientifically proven (no self-protection).”

Discrimination due to corona virus (DW / M. Müller)Pharmacist Stephanie Maletz with various mouth protection packs

A notice is apparently necessary. Pharmacist Stephanie Maletz says that the face mask with a built-in filter is particularly popular. Foreign customers, in particular, asked about it. “The Chinese woman wanted to buy around 200 pieces this morning, which unfortunately we could no longer offer. We still had 50 pieces left. She took them with her.” The Chinese want to send the mouthguards to her family in China. The face mask, which costs almost ten euros, is now sold out. But there is still the thin surgical mask for ten to 20 cents each.

“Fewer customers are coming”

Phung Minh Hoang sits at the cash register of his small Asia market near the main train station and plays on the cell phone. No customer is currently visible. Effects of fear of the coronavirus? “The coronavirus is affecting our shop, I would say. Fewer customers are coming. But nobody has said anything about the virus so far,” says the Vietnamese native. There have been losses since last week – not particularly large, but noticeable.

Corona Virus Discrimination?  (DW / M. Müller)Phung Minh Hoang in his small, well-stocked Asian supermarket

The contact between employees and customers is always very close to a nail salon. In a nail studio in the center of Bonn, an Asian-looking man is beautifying a customer’s nails. He doesn’t want to say anything in front of the microphone, nor does he want to give his name. But behind the scenes, he says that normally all appointments should be booked. But many are especially free. He doesn’t know why. Corona? Could be. He did not know. The situation is similar to an Asian restaurant. It is currently empty. An employee who does not want to be named explains that fewer guests are currently coming.

Everything as always, but …

If one reads up to here, one might think that the picture drawn on social media is correct and that Asians in Germany are avoided. But that’s only part of the truth. In the second nail studio visited, all three Asian employees were busy beautifying nails. There is no decline. And the majority of the Asian restaurants and shops visited said: everything as before.

Zhang Baoxiang Sino Markt Bonn (DW / M. Müller)Zhang Baoxiang came to Germany in 1980 and runs a Chinese business in Bonn

Zhang Baoxiang, the owner of an Asian supermarket, replies to the question of whether fewer customers come: “No, everything is normal in Germany. Chinese, Germans – everything normal. No difference.” Huang Fu Zhang sees it similarly. He is the managing director of “Ocean Paradise”, a Chinese restaurant on a Chinese-style ship on the banks of the Rhine in Bonn. The Chinese, who comes from near Shanghai, says that there are no fewer guests than before. So everything normal? Nearly.

“For example, someone called last night for fun. They want to come out for dinner, but they don’t want a virus. That annoyed me a bit.” He doesn’t find it funny.  

China ship Ocean Paradise in Bonn (DW / M. Müller)Huang Fu Zhang, managing director of “Ocean Paradise”, cannot laugh at jokes about the coronavirus

If Asian, then disinfectant spray?

Georg Tuerk is a member of the Society for German-Chinese Friendship and Managing Director of DeKang GmbH, which advises German companies in China. He should have looked after a tour group from China in Germany at the end of the month. The trip was postponed – until further notice.

It tells of a birthday party last weekend. When he told me what he did for a living, those present – “lightly joking, but nonetheless” – said: “When was the last time you were in China? Are you also sick? And I said: Man, leave the church in the village!” So far, however, he has not noticed any negative reactions to his Chinese friends.

China ship Ocean Paradise in Bonn (DW / M. Müller)The “Ocean Paradise” restaurant, better known in Bonn as the “China ship”, is an integral part of the banks of the Rhine

All of the Asians interviewed by us in Bonn answered “no” to the question of whether they experienced personal discrimination after the outbreak of the virus. Well, almost everyone. A staff member of an Asian fast food store said that her Asian friends in a drugstore had experienced that after paying, the cashier sprayed the checkout area with disinfectant spray.


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