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PA Peter Byrne
chinese man in manchester pa peter byrne.png
PA Peter Byrne
UK News

Members of Chinese church in UK facing verbal abuse due to Coronavirus

by Cara Bentley

A Chinese minister in the UK has described how some of his congregation have been told to 'go home' and a Christian businesswoman told Premier how people have moved away from her on the tube. 

The virus has not killed anyone in the UK and has been likened to common flu, affecting the old and the young worst. 

Rev Kong Ching Hii, Methodist minister of King's Cross Methodist Church in London told the Methodist podcast: "In the north east, one community has stopped the Sunday worship service and also the community in Birmingham, one of the ministers was shouted at: 'you Chinese, go home' and also some of my church members face different kinds of discrimination.

"Some of the students who are wearing masks here in UK receive a strange look or verbal abuse and then one of my church members has been chased after by a group of people asking them to return home."

He added that many of his congregation have changed their own routines, he said: "I didn't expect many changes until I arrived at the church on Sunday morning and realised that half of the community did not turn up for the Sunday worship service and last week, coupled with the thunderstorm, three-quarters of them were missing on Sunday."

The church have issued guidelines, offering masks to be worn in church and advising those who feel bad to stay at home. They've also prayed with people over the phone and held prayer meetings for the situation many of their families are facing in China. 


The minister added that the way the city of Wuhan in China has responded to the virus may look shocking to the rest of the world: "the shutdown of the city, the stop of public transport and also [being] encouraged to wear masks and also the empty shelves in the departmental stores - all these are frightening signs.

"The situation back in China is subject to different interpretation because the shutdown itself is quite alarming and secondly, because of the mask-wearing, which is kind of a norm to that community but maybe not a norm to the British society," he added.

Kaitlin Zhang, a Christian in London and CEO of Oval Branding (an agency which specialises in promoting businesses in China and the west), told Premier she thinks she has been denied slots to speak at conferences.

Zhang, and others, have been letting Chinese people in the UK - who were due to return but had flights cancelled - stay in their homes: "There are also Christians who are trying to open up their homes for people who are kind of stuck in the UK and I think it's a generous thing to do and it's what we're supposed to do as Christians.

"In terms of church, I'm still going to church every week and I think the majority of people are still going to church every week. I think the flu actually is more deadly as a situation in the UK than the Coronavirus."

She added though that anyone who thought they could be ill should enforce the 14-day isolation period, including from church. 



Zhang thinks Coronavirus, and people's reaction to it, has had a knock-on effect on her work: "We have speaking roles that I'm supposed to be attending cancelled on me and also in terms of my business, I think I'm unable to run some events I wanted to do. 

"For example, for International Women's Day in March, I know that because I'm an ethnically Chinese person, that if I run an event, it's not going to be successful. So, it's definitely going to have an impact on business.
"In terms of other things, there are racial slurs and things like that on the tube when it's busy and people definitely moving away from you."

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