A Kiwi-Chinese whose Airbnb provider emailed her in Chinese to cancel a booking says she feels it's a case of racism "from within the Chinese community" around the coronavirus epidemic.
Kerry Cheng, 30, from Tauranga, had booked the one-bedroom villa in Hamilton for a short holiday with her 25-year-old sister.
After the booking was confirmed, she received an email from the accommodation provider in Chinese script saying: "Sorry we need to close this room, please cancel the booking thanks."
Cheng, who moved to New Zealand with her family from Hong Kong when she was a baby, said she can't even read or understand Chinese and has not been to China.
Professor Manying Ip says many Chinese are fearful of being in contact with other Chinese. Photo / File
University of Auckland Professor of Asian Studies Manying Ip said fake news and false information being circulated on Chinese social media was creating panic and fear among Chinese communities.
"I've found that many Chinese themselves fear being in contact with other Chinese than even the Māori and European as a result of this online panic," Ip said.
"You get fake news and over exaggeration being spread around the internet, and many Chinese are getting swept up in it."
Ip said this has resulted in many Chinese being even more fearful to come in contact with other Chinese.
"We've seen a downturn in Chinese restaurants, we've seen the Auckland Lantern Festival being cancelled, and this is all because of the fear and suspicion that Chinese have of being around other Chinese," she said.
"They see coronavirus as a global case, and its affected many countries across Asia, so some are getting so paranoid and avoiding anyone with Chinese or Asian-sounding names.
"Is this racism from within our own communities, some will see it as that."
Cheng said she believed the Airbnb property owner is Chinese because another property is listed on a Chinese real estate website with the same mobile number.
She has been using the website booking.com for years and has never had anything like this happened.
"This is the first time something like this has happened to us and I believe it's most definitely linked to coronavirus and us having Chinese names," Cheng said.
"I feel it's a racist attack really, and even more shocking that its come from within our own Chinese community."
Cheng said she contacted booking.com after receiving the request for cancellation and was told they had processes in place to help her.
"Regardless, the issue is about the accommodation provider and being left feeling angry, upset, stuck between a rock and a hard place for booking domestic travel from what both me and my sister interpret as racist in the context of our last names and coronavirus," she added.
The Herald reported on February 6 that a patient at Auckland City Hospital was overheard requesting to be treated by a non-Asian doctor at its emergency department.
Following the report, the woman who heard the conversation clarified that the person who made the request was a Chinese patient.
"I feel I just had to clarify that after all the online comments about racist Kiwis after the Herald did that report," she said.
In the wake of the coronavirus panic, four Filipino children from Papakura Normal School were also told to stay away from school when they have never been to China.