Every year, thousands of international students come to the U.S. to get an education. Chinese students comprise the largest international student group in the United States and at the University of Arizona.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been some assumptions or beliefs that China is responsible for this pandemic. More than 1 million people have died around the world due to COVID-19. The United States is the hottest spot for the virus with over 214,000 deaths.
The UA Department of East Asian Studies is holding a webinar that will bring up a conversation about the relationship between China and the U.S. and how COVID-19 has affected it.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 4 p.m. via Zoom, four professors will get together to present a webinar called "Pandemic Blues and Blame Games: Anti-Asian Rhetoric and Realities of US-China Antagonism" to initiate a discussion in related topics.
Hai Ren, a UA professor of Modern Chinese Culture and one of the speakers, said that there is a need to have discussions so people’s understanding is not influenced by political rhetoric.
“I hope that [participants] will have some kind of more balanced understanding about the issues, and also from a scholarly perspective rather than separately from social media, from politicians,” Ren said.
Ren said that there is no reason to blame a country and its people.
“The virus doesn’t have a nationality; the virus doesn’t care if you are living here … The virus doesn’t care whether or not you are the U.S. president or French president,” said Ren. “As long as you are a human, you know you are going to [be] affected by this.”
At the beginning of the year, China was in the spotlight after scientists indicated that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China. This brought attention to the country, its people and its culture creating an unpleasant environment for Asian Americans.
“The point of the webinar is to show that this blame game is not only dangerous and stupid but also distracts from other real issues affecting us globally,” said Fabio Lanza, a UA professor of Modern Chinese History and one of the speakers, via email.
Lanza hoped that after this webinar, participants will have a better understanding of global connections and the position of China in the world.
Albert Welter, a UA professor and head of the department of East Asian Studies, will host the webinar. He emphasized that in the United States, people are less aware of Asian American history.
“This relationship between the U.S., China and the emerging world with these two major forces need to be understood and addressed,” Welter said.
Ren stated that it is important to build a relationship that is based on understanding, rather than blaming people.
“We’re training students to become global citizens,” Ren said, explaining that knowing and understanding other cultures is beneficial for world growth.
Most conferences, events and seminars shifted to an online format, making webinars a convenient resource for scholars to present their ideas and more accessible for everybody. Welter said that webinars bring a much larger and broader audience.
“This isn’t an academic conference, this is something to try to raise awareness about these topics with the public,” Welter said.
You can find the Zoom link at the Department of East Asian Studies website.
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