Forum: Xenophobia in Britain risks alienating future leaders

Recently, my son, a student at an English university, told me of the overt racism and xenophobia that he was facing there.

They ranged from "bat soup" remarks to xenophobic attacks such as being told to go back to China. When my son explained that he did not eat bat soup and that he was a Chinese Malaysian living in Singapore, such remarks and attacks only grew worse.

When I was studying and working in Britain during the 1980s, I did encounter racism and some xenophobia. However, they were of the covert type and manageable. Overall, I enjoyed my time in Britain, becoming something of an Anglophile.

My son and his foreign student friends put the present overt racism and xenophobia down to Brexit and Covid-19. These have fuelled racism and xenophobia, especially against those of Chinese ancestry.

Anybody of Chinese ancestry is assumed to be from China, and a carrier or progenitor of the "China virus". That is about as logical as assuming that all white people are from England, or that anybody of English ancestry is a carrier or progenitor of the coronavirus variant.

Ironically, post-Brexit, when Britain is turning to the Commonwealth for increased trade and political ties, such racism and xenophobia risk alienating foreign students who may well be the future leaders and professionals of the Commonwealth.

Chew Kok Liang