Coronavirus: Canada PM Justin Trudeau slams rise in anti-Asian attacks

Trudeau speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, May 20, 2020.
Trudeau speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, May 20, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

MONTREAL (AFP) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday (May 22) slammed as "unacceptable" attacks on Canadians of Asian origin, who have been the target of increasing abuse since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Trudeau denounced the "significant increase in acts of racism against Asian Canadians" during his daily press briefing.

"Over the past few weeks and months, businesses, buildings and statues have been vandalised, people have been verbally abused and physically attacked. It's unacceptable. Hate, violence and discrimination have no place in Canada," he said.

In Vancouver, a Chinese cultural centre in Chinatown was recently spray painted with racist graffiti.

Police in the western city have reported "an increase in reports of anti-Asian hate-motivated incidents and criminal acts" since the outbreak of the virus.

Since the beginning of the year there have been 20 anti-Asian attacks reported to police there, against 12 in the whole of 2019. Of those, 15 were in April.

At the start of month, veteran Canadian rocker Bryan Adams had to apologise for making remarks on social media that were criticised for fuelling anti-Chinese sentiment.

Such attacks have been on the rise around the world since the virus was first detected in China in late 2019, with more and more Asians or people of Asian origin having to face anti-Chinese outbursts.

At the end of March, US President Donald Trump said it was "very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States," insisting that the virus was "not their fault in any way, shape or form."

He had previously been criticised for continuously referring to Covid-19 as the "Chinese virus".