Are expats in Asia increasingly unwelcome?

Are expats in Asia increasingly unwelcome?

Are expats in Asia increasingly unwelcome?

All across human history, those seen as ‘different’ have been targeted for blame when man-made or natural disasters have occurred.

Nowadays, in the so-called enlightened and decidedly connected 21st century, it’s happening again all across the Asian continent. Whether it’s Trump calling out China for a supposed deliberate attack on the USA via the coronavirus, or expat communities in various Asian countries being demonised as dirty, uncooperative and spreading the virus simply by existing, it’s all happening again.

China itself has recently been seen by expats as a favourite relocation destination, with the Chinese authorities seemingly breaking their backs to welcome the influx of tech and other talent arriving from Europe and the USA. Post-pandemic it’s a different story, with an increasing number of Chinese authorities as well as locals changing their tune and reverting to the traditionally negative Chinese attitude towards foreigners.

Thailand is home to a high number of expats either working, retiring or running SMEs in popular hotspots, but its Minister of Health has stated he’d deport foreigners who refused his offer of masks and referred to the expat community as ‘dirty’ as they never shower. At the same time, financial requirements for visas and a tightening up of old laws aimed specifically at foreigners are being introduced. Long-stayers are reading the writing on the wall and are making plans to relocate, but many would prefer to stay in Asia rather than return to the West.

Malaysia’s formerly popular 10-year MM2H second home visa is now seemingly not worth the paper it’s printed on as many expats who invested in property and deposited large sums in local banks as required are now disallowed from re-entry if they’ve been accidentally caught outside the country after the lockdown was announced. For many, Malaysia is their permanent home, their funds are there and the government obviously neither appreciates their input over many years nor gives a damn if they’re trapped elsewhere and are running out of available means of support.

Even outside Asia in the Gulf States, media reports suggest an increasing number of expat professionals are leaving whilst the going is still good, although it seems racism per se is concentrated mostly on Indian blue-collar workers who’re now departing in droves on repatriation flights. Their jobs are taken from them and they’re increasingly being blamed for Islamophobic online posts. Given that the expertise of workers from overseas at all levels is rightly seen to have dragged the region out of the stone age after oil was discovered, it seems those in power in the region have short memories.

Online media outlets across the world are attempting to use the pandemic to bring together all nationalities in the fight against infection and deaths, but it seems that, at the level where things are supposed to get done, no-one’s listening. Perhaps the projected worldwide recession will bring those in power into the real world, but no-one’s sitting on a hot stove waiting.

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