It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Cummins, on what I believe to be your first occasion in the Chair. I want to congratulate my neighbour, my hon. Friend Sarah Owen, for securing this important debate on Chinese and East Asian communities’ experience of racism during the covid-19 pandemic, particularly this week, during National Hate Crime Awareness Week. It is important to take the opportunity to raise the importance of reporting incidents of hate crime when they happen, as that will help prevent them happening to others and help the police and other agencies better understand the extent of hate crime in a local area and, therefore, better respond to it. I hasten to add that all public services must also be properly resourced to do so.
A 2019 House of Commons Library briefing shows that police-recorded hate crime offences have continually risen since 2012-13. The rate of hate crimes against Chinese people between January and March this year was nearly three times that of the previous two years, according to data released by UK police forces to Sky News. The far right is constantly seeking to normalise racist attitudes and behaviours, and we have seen legitimate criticisms of the actions of the Chinese Government being hijacked by those people who want to sow division in society. Moonshot, which specialises in monitoring extremist content online, found that between February and April there was a 300% increase in racist and violent hashtags against China and Chinese people. They analysed more than 600 million tweets, of which 200,000 contained hate speech or anti-Chinese conspiracy theories. I urge the Government to address the horrendous abuse online in the upcoming online harms Bill. Facebook and Twitter must be accountable for what is published on their websites.