Drop Racism and Eat Local Chinese, British Food Critic Says

Sun Minghai (2nd R, front), member of the Chinese Cuisine Association and Ulla Liukkonen (1st R, front), Chairwoman of Finnish Chef Association, prepare dinner during Finland Chinese Food Night at the Main Post Office Restaurant in Helsinki, Finland, on Oct. 14, 2019. (Photo by Matti Matikainen/Xinhua)

LONDON (Xinhua) — A British writer and food critic on Sunday expressed his solidarity with the local Chinese community, dismissing racial discrimination linked to coronavirus.

Jay Rayner, a journalist, writer and restaurant critic, visited Chinese restaurant Four Seasons located in London’s Chinatown and published a review in The Observer newspaper.

“This is a review with a simple message: go and support your local Chinese restaurant. Go show them that ethnicity is not a marker for disease,” he said, adding that it was also “an act of solidarity with Britain’s Chinese community which has suffered via misplaced racist fear over coronavirus.”

The 53-year old writer noticed that Gerrard Street in Chinatown was “sparsely populated” and chairs and tables in the restaurants “sit forlorn and empty,” as the fear over COVID-19 has impacted badly the business of the Chinese restaurants, although the “nasty virus has broken out in a city 5,500 miles (about 8,851 km) away from London.”

“I’ve never seen it like this before,” he wrote. “There are reports of abuse on the streets, of Asians being shunned on public transport. Across the Chinese restaurant sector, business is down. The mother of one Anglo-Chinese friend calls it ‘health-linked racial discrimination.’ It doesn’t matter what excuse you choose for your racism. It’s still racism.”

People watch the Chinese Lunar New Year parade in Manhattan’s Chinatown of New York City, the United States, Feb. 9, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

As a regular customer, Rayner said he did not need to visit Four Seasons to write about it.

“But this is an act of solidarity that also gets me roast duck,” he said.

“The opening up of China has brought us the country’s thrilling variety from Sichuan to Shanghai, from Hunan to Xinjiang and back again,” Rayner said at the end of his review, adding that he was staggered to see that the once mainly Cantonese Chinatown has grown from “a tiny cluster to a vast district apparently representing all the provinces.”

“Britain’s Chinese restaurant offering is more diverse and exciting than it’s ever been. Please go and eat in one. Now,” he concluded.

Responding to Rayner’s review, one person wrote on Twitter: “I’m baffled people would avoid Chinese restaurants in London for the coronavirus … you’ve definitely inspired me to go ASAP.”

“Such an excellent and timely review. So shameful that some people are avoiding our wonderful Chinese restaurants for the silliest of reasons,” another tweeted.