Manila: The Philippines’ influential Chinese business community has aired an appeal for temperance amid increasing anti-Chinese sentiments in the country.

The Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCII) said that prevailing sentiments vilifying Chinese and blaming them for the spread of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) is unfair.

“Be socially responsible by not sharing fake news or other unverified information, avoid expressing racist defamations. Spreading fake news and racist, xenophobic messages can be more dangerous than the virus itself due to their negative effects of causing confusion, fears, rancour and instability,” Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the FFCCCII said.

Strong anti-Chinese sentiments had been prevailing in the country even before news on the nCoV came about. Distinction over the ethnic Chinese community which had contributed much to the country’s economic prosperity had been blurred with hatred fanned by China’s expansionist excursions into areas in the South China Sea including islands claimed by the Philippines.

Xenophobic attacks

“Also, let us not join some misinformed people in their unfair anti-China racist stereotypes and xenophobic attacks, because this important Asian neighbour is the Philippines’ traditional ally and long-standing trade partner for over 1,000 uninterrupted years,” Lim Bon Liong said.

Relations between the two Asian neighbours have been put to the test any by the 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV) threat.

On Saturday, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a travel ban to and from China as well as its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, due to the nCoV.

On Sunday, airlines started to prevent foreigners coming from China and its special administrative regions from disembarking at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.

The Presidential Palace in Manila for its part said the issue is not about whether the Philippines will be sticking it out with China in these tough times.

“As members of the family of nations, we remain faithful in our commitment and resolve to help and support one another in these trying and quietus times even as we express our thanks to countries, including China, for helping us in our own fight against the spread of the virus in our territory,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.