Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appeals to Singaporeans in a televised address not to fear about the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Prime Minister’s Office

Chinese authorities on Wednesday revoked the press credentials and ordered the expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters in apparent retaliation to an opinion piece the newspaper published that was headlined “China is the real sick man of Asia.”

As Covid-19 spreads, various localities have reported racial discrimination. Western and even East Asia nations have witnessed incidences of boycotting “Chinese.” And it is not only actual Chinese nationals but other Asians who have met with nonsensical treatment in different countries. And now the Wall Street Journal by using this headline to look down on a whole nation shows the true racism of such attitudes.

Several days ago, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that in some countries there had been extraordinary emotional reactions to the Covid-19 epidemic; this is a most illogical mentality. He emphasized that this epidemic is a public health emergency, not a matter between countries, nor a racial question.

The WSJ headline showed zero compassion and humanity toward Chinese people. It would make any Chinese felt disrespected. Genuinely civilized people see them as global citizens and show respect to any culture and race.

The fact that the editorial board allowed such a racially discriminatory headline to be published indicates arrogance and poor judgment.

This is the most racist headline I have ever read anywhere in the US. It will encourage further discriminatory behavioral toward all Chinese, and possibly all East Asians, inside and outside the US.

In an era when we should all be very conscious of cultural implications and stereotypes, it is unimaginable to see such a headline in such a prestigious newspaper. This totally changed my opinion of this newspaper, and how low its editorial standards have become. This is hugely disappointing and shameful. I hope someone on the WSJ’s editorial board can come forward and correct the damage they have done, and explain how they will move forward.

I am not against the opinions expressed in the article itself. Its author, Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College in New York state, simply outlined possible consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak and blamed China for the disruption to the global economy. But when all economies are highly correlated, you can’t simply bash your counterpart for an economic slump yet give yourself full credit for an uptrend. The Covid-19 outbreak simply amplifies structurally weak global growth.

Mead’s opinion piece is a good article. I agree with its viewpoints. However, the headline is quite misleading, if not utterly offensive. I know Internet traffic is important for new outlets to make ends meet, but let’s at least be graceful. Much scarier things are happening in China right now. But cautious word choice should be natural among all journalists.

Racism will not help prevent epidemics, only making people conceal illnesses and cause more extensive infections. Lee Hsien Loong was on point: This is a public health emergency, not an international question, nor a racial question.

Kent Wang

Kent Wang is a research fellow at the Institute for Taiwan-America Studies (ITAS), a conservative Washington-based think-tank focusing on aspects of US-Taiwan relations, and is broadly interested in the United States-Taiwan-China trilateral equation, as well as in East Asian security architecture.