The Asian Studies Association of Australia notes recent reports of attacks and intimidation directed against people of Asian backgrounds in Australia in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the attribution of blame by some people to Chinese and, by extension, all Asian people for the virus. This blaming of people of Asian background for a global pandemic recalls long histories of racism and exclusion in Australia. As an Association whose members work towards achieving greater understanding of Asian societies in Australia, we affirm our absolute commitment to opposition to all forms of racism and discrimination, and deplore these incidents. Such attacks have no place in a tolerant and inclusive society such as we seek to build in Australia. Racism is deplorable under any circumstance, but is particularly damaging at a time of global crisis when people of good will are called upon to work together to confront our common challenges. Noting that some of these incidents have been directed at students from Asian countries, we express our particular support for international students and the role they play as a vital and positive part of Australia’s higher education system and community. The Association calls upon all members, universities, relevant authorities and members of the wider community to stand against racism and to work together in pursuit of an inclusive and diverse society. We salute efforts to challenge racism, including the following petition initiated by prominent Asian-Australian leaders.
Professor Edward Aspinall
President, on behalf of the ASAA Executive.
7 May 2020