Whilst discrimination against Asians is widespread around the globe, and especially so due to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, an uncommon phenomenon is also taking place in Taiwan.
As a result of Taiwan controlling the virus so well, and areas far more affected by the virus being in Europe or the USA, and subsequently with most cases of those infected in Taiwan being individuals returning from Europe or the United States, some examples of discrimination against foreigners have now taken place here in Taiwan.
Announcements have been made by a few night clubs and stores that used to welcome foreigners to the tune of not being able to do so anymore. Some restaurants have acted in a similar manner.
One store even made an announcement in English to suggest that foreign customers do their shopping online by scanning a specific QR Code.
More than one non-Taiwanese has reported that his or her accommodation was cancelled by an Airbnb host without giving a proper reason.
At the same time, indiscriminate discrimination is highly criticized.
In writing this piece, I found that most cases reported have quickly been ‘adjusted’ or rectified with discriminatory announcements removed, as some stores reportedly found the English version of the announcement had a different meaning to the message they originally wanted to convey.
However, in general, Taiwanese do have concerns about the presence of foreigners at the moment, as it is assumed that foreigners are more likely to have come from other countries or have a recent travel history.
Few really put these stereotypes into their business operational practices though.
With the low traffic of foreign travelers after February when the pandemic started to increase, any subsequent discrimination has therefore primarily brought inconveniences to foreign residents.
In fact, a policy launched by the government on March 19th was put in place restricting the entry of all non-Taiwanese unless they could show proof that they are visiting Taiwan to fulfill commercial and contractual obligations, or with job acceptance letters or employment contracts issued by competent authorities in Taiwan.
This means that no significant numbers of foreigners with any travel history can show up on streets during this period, which makes any remaining discriminatory operational policies total nonsense.