Hate crimes against Chinese people in the UK have soared during the coronavirus outbreak, new police figures have revealed.
At least 267 offences were recorded in the first three months of 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis – including assaults, robberies, harassment and criminal damage.
Victims described being punched, spat at and coughed on in the street as well as being verbally abused about coronavirus after the first case was reported in China.
The rate of hate crimes against Chinese people between January and March was nearly three times that of the previous two years, according to data released by UK police forces to Sky News.
Jeremy Wu, a student nurse working in the UK, said he has faced discrimination from some patients and colleagues, with one co-worker asking him: "Why not go back to your country with your virus?"
Mr Wu told Sky News: "I've cried before I go to sleep, I feel so alone because there's no one I can talk to about this sensitive issue.
"Sooner or later people will realise it is ridiculous to relate a pandemic virus to a certain group of people, like HIV towards the LGBT community in the 80s."
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Actor and director David Tse, who moved from Hong Kong to the UK as a child, revealed he was recently racially abused by a woman in a London street who said: "F*** your f****** virus, take it home with you."
He has set up a COVID-19 anti-racism group to try to tackle the problem, telling Sky News: "Racism is never warranted any time but now, in particular, it makes me angry.
"People are frightened and the economy is bad and people want to blame somebody."
Michael Chiu, a 22-year-old student at Sheffield Hallam University, said he was subjected to racist abuse about the coronavirus by people in a car who threw fruit at him.
He told Sky News: "I have grown up with racism my entire life but to have actual adult individuals using that kind of language, and using that kind of racism towards me… it was just extremely shocking.
"I was born in the UK and I have absolutely nothing to do with the coronavirus and more importantly the virus does not discriminate in any manner or form. It is just plain ignorance."
Sky News submitted freedom of information requests to the UK's 45 territorial police forces and British Transport Police (BTP) asking for details of hate crimes recorded against Chinese people between January and March this year, as well as in 2019 and 2018.
Most forces revealed details of hate crimes recorded against Chinese victims only, while some provided details of offences against people of South East Asian origin.
Forces revealed 267 offences were recorded in the first three months of 2020, compared to 375 hate crimes throughout the whole of 2019 and 360 offences in 2018.
Among the crimes reported this year, BTP revealed an offender said "f****** Chinese" five times and punched a person in the jaw, and another victim was spat on.
One person was told: "Go back to your own country, you have coronavirus you c****," and another offender said to a victim "I'll catch coronavirus off you", the force added.
Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, recorded 63 hate crimes against Chinese people between January and March, including 14 violence against the person offences.
In Merseyside, an offender ran off with a person's face mask before returning and punching the victim in the face.
And in Cambridgeshire, a suspect told a victim mMasks don't work you Chinese" before threatening violence, and another suspect coughed in a woman's face in the street.
A group of youths also approached a woman and her friend in Leicestershire and accused them of spreading coronavirus.
Police in Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Essex, Humberside and Northamptonshire all recorded more hate crimes against Chinese victims in the first three months of 2020 than they did throughout the whole of 2019.
Meanwhile, BTP recorded 49 hate crimes against victims whose ethnic appearance was recorded as Chinese, Japanese or South East Asian between January and March – the same amount it recorded throughout the whole of 2019.
The actual number of hRead More – Source