"You don’t have COVID, do you?" a friend asked Michelle, a Bonn-based young Chinese professional. While the comments could be interpreted as racism, Michelle nonetheless says she understands why people behave this way.
"It’s only human and there is this association with China because the virus probably originated there," she told DW.
She describes discrimination within China itself related to the virus, with people from Hubei province — where the first COVID cases occurred — having been socially stigmatized and locked up in their houses.
Stereotypes perpetuated in popular culture
Anti-Asian racism in Germany takes many forms, says Popo Fan, who notes that German television barely features Asian characters.
Even when Asians do appear on screen they tend to portray stereotypes such a "waitress in an Asian restaurant," or a "young girl working in a spa," he said.
The prejudices also seep into the dating world. "In the queer community, there is also a stereotype," said Fan.
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"Men on Grindr [a location-based social networking and online dating application for members of the LGBT+ community] say that they won’t hook up with Asian men because they hear it’s like having sex with a dolphin. It’s such an awful thing to say."
Another example of anti-Asian racism in the German media recently made headlines when Matthias Matuschik, a presenter on Bavarian radio station Bayern 3, compared K-pop boy band BTS to the COVID-19 virus after they covered the Coldplay song "Fix You."