Canadian News Apr 29, 2021 2:27 PM EST

Ontario MPPs pressure Chinese-Canadian doctor to scrap sign referring to COVID-19 as 'Wuhan pneumonia' in Chinese

An Ontario-based Chinese-Canadian doctor is facing pressure from two MPPs to remove a sign from his office that, in Chinese, refers to COVID-19 as the "Wuhan pneumonia," which they say could incite anti-Asian hostility.

Ontario MPPs pressure Chinese-Canadian doctor to scrap sign referring to COVID-19 as 'Wuhan pneumonia' in Chinese
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An Ontario-based Chinese-Canadian doctor is facing pressure from two MPPs to remove a sign from his office that, in Chinese, refers to COVID-19 as the "Wuhan pneumonia," which they say could incite anti-Asian hostility, according to the National Post.

The sign in question, reportedly placed on the door of his office, has an English section that explains Dr. Kester Kong's office procedures and protocols related to the pandemic, and says only COVID-19. The "Wuhan pneumonia" phrase only appears in Chinese.

Vincent Ke, a Chinese-Canadian Progressive Conservative member of the provincial legislature stated that while Kong may have misspoke and made a mistake, the mentioning of Wuhan even in Chinese is still "inflammatory."

"No matter the language spoken or written, the term ‘Wuhan pneumonia’ to describe the COVID-19 virus is not just incorrect, it is inflammatory,” stated an email from Ke's spokesman. “In fact, many Chinese Canadians feel extremely offended and vulnerable by the term used by Dr. Kong … MPP Ke has confidence that if Dr. Kong learned how divisive and hurtful the term ‘Wuhan pneumonia’ is to the people in our communities, he would remove the sign."

Ke had said earlier in an anti-racism forum of WeChat, a China-based company, that he and Tory MPP Aris Babikian would publicize the issue in a news conference if the doctor didn't remove or reword his posted notice.

Babikian has since confirmed after speaking with Kong Tuesday that the physician has agreed to reword the sign.

"This pandemic, it is international, it is worldwide," said Babikian. "To just try to label it as a pandemic caused by a certain ethnic community and group, it is unfair."

A spokesman for the Toronto Association for Democracy in China, Cheuk Kwan said that despite the anti-Asian bigotry problem on the rise in Canada, most people of Chinese descent don't mind Wuhan virus references.

"They don't see this as a big deal," said Kwan, adding that Ke seemed "over-eager to defend China, rather than being too worried about anti-Asian hate."

"This is the playbook of Chinese consulates in Canada," criticized Kwan. "They are using this anti-Asian hate to rally the troops, (win) the hearts and minds of Chinese Canadians."


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