As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, travel restrictions are being imposed around the world. China is the main target, with various countries including Australia, Canada and the US placing different restrictions on people who have travelled through the country where the outbreak started. Beijing has attacked the US restrictions on Chinese citizens as “excessive”, advising them not to travel to the country as a result.
It brings to mind the Yellow Peril hysteria of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was used to justify European colonialism in Asia; while in response to inflows of Asia immigrants to California, the US congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 to block the entry of people of Chinese origin.