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#COVIDCatLady, Day 64

I went to IKEA. What's it like shopping in IKEA post-lockdown? Well, since reopening, their hours are still limited, closing every day at 6:00 p.m. There's no soft-serve ice cream or any beverage from dispensers. Want a cup of coffee? Please enjoy this to-go cup that's been sitting out for goodness knows how long. People shopped and napped and I got glared at for a solid 5 minutes after trying to sneak a picture of a young woman napping on a sofa (I'd make a terrible spy). There's no social or physical distancing but everyone is still wearing their masks.

In the past couple of days, I've had several non-Asian friends state that they've experienced Chinese people either avoiding them on the street, refusing to share an elevator with them, or denying them entry despite following disease control protocol, which have been loosened anyway. One guy was stopped from going into his own neighborhood because he was bringing home an empty suitcase that he had lent to a friend, and they assumed he was coming back from abroad. I’ve even had a few people stare at me in startled confusion when they hear my English, and visibly relax when I switch back to Mandarin Chinese.

So yeah, China is slowly going back to normal. I no longer need to register when I enter restaurants and my office building. But if this is the new normal, I don't like it. More and more, I've resisted the term "new normal." To me it implies a new but permanent state, as if once we transitioned into whatever this "new normal" is, we will never move beyond it. Last week, I blew a gasket reading about how the head of WHO claimed that somehow Taiwan has a bullying "campaign" against him, in response to a question about how Trump had criticized him. I decided not to take my anger to the keyboard. My fellow Taiwanese were a lot more gracious and creative than me, responding with a #ThisAttackComesFromTaiwan campaign featuring boba tea and other adorably Taiwanese specialties. Like donated surgical masks and other medical supplies.

Meanwhile, there's crowdfunding to place an ad in the New York Times to remind folk that #TaiwanCanHelp. Not to insult any NYT readers, but I'd imagine many wouldn't know why Taiwan would need to make that case to begin with.

Such is the struggle of a small island nation that's been kept off the world stage.

Prejudice and fear are being use as a tool to direct hate and manipulate perceptions. First it was most Chinese nationals against the people of Wuhan city and Hubei Province. Then it's the rest of the world against China. Or the world against anyone who looks Chinese. Now it's China against the world, especially Africans in Guangzhou, some of whom have been forcefully evicted from their homes. I just heard that South Africa closed its borders to everyone, including their own citizens, and there's a teacher in Shanghai who's due to marry at home this October who may or may not be able to attend her own wedding. So in an act of stubborn, childish escapism, I've been binge-watching the West Wing and listening to the Hamilton Musical cast album on repeat, basking in an alternative universe / space-time where leaders walk-and-talk/rap and everyone sounds clever and righteous.


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