SEMrush Research Identifies a Concerning Rise in Anti-Asian Racism in Australia since the Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 Anti-Asian Racism Study by SEMrush

Since January 2020, there has been an increase in incidents of anti-Chinese and Asian racism as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold in Australia. Some of these incidents have been reported to the police or featured on Australian news, but a large proportion are going unreported. Online data provider, SEMrush conducted research to look into this concerning trend and how Australians are reacting, and identified where victims are going for the support they need online and what the reaction is on social media.

Reporting Anti-Asian Racism

Due to anti-Asian racial incidents going unreported, Erin Chew, an activist and writer for set up a reporting mechanism via SurveyMonkey for Asian Australians to report racism towards them since COVID-19 started. SEMrush identified that there have been over 15,300 visits to this research site in April alone. Erin is involved with the advocacy network the to stamp out anti-Asian racism.

"We launched the survey on April 2nd of this year, and we are at around 380 reports of COVID-19 related racism in Australia. Some of the key results include: 65% of respondents identified themselves as female, 40% of incidents occurred on a public street or pavement, and 60% of the incidents were in the form of racial slurs or name-calling. We encourage all Asians/Asian Australians to record their experience on our incident report because reporting is one of the ways that we can bring more awareness to this issue," said reporter at Being Asian Australian, Ms Chew.

Google Searches Relating to Asian Racism

SEMrush analysed the Google searches relating to anti-Asian racism from February to April 2020 and found that there had been significant increases in people looking online for answers regarding racism towards people of Asian appearance.


Keyword searches Feb to Mar growth Mar to April growth
Chinese racism 60% 81%
racism against Chinese 50% 0%
racism against Asians 191% -19%
hate crime Australia 27% 50%
what is a hate crime 91% -33%
racism towards Asians 240% -18%
racism towards Chinese 22% 27%
Asian hate crime 800% 56%
anti-Chinese racism 0% 120%
report racism 40% 29%
Asian abused 75% 0%
Australia racism Asian 800% -22%
Abuse of Chinese 250% 0%
Chinese racism in Australia 0% 133%
racism against Chinese in Australia -33% 100%
Chinese hate crime NA 250%
Racism Chinese Australia -67% 300%
Asian teen abused 100% -50%
racism against Asians in Australia 100% 100%
how to report racism 100% 50%
report racism NSW 100% 0%


Comparing the States

It seems the anti-Asian racism situation may be worse in both New South Wales and Victoria, which saw higher Google search volumes than other states and territories.

  1. In Victoria, Chinese racism saw a rise in Google searches by 600% from February to March.
  2. In Victoria, Asian hate crime Google searches rose by 200% from February to March.
  3. In New South Wales, anti-Chinese racism saw a rise in Google searches of 600% from March to April.
  4. In Queensland, Chinese racism saw a rise in searches of 129% from March to April.
  5. In South Australia, Chinese racism saw a rise in searches of 200% from March to April.

 Examples of racism

On just the second day of lockdown in Australia, Peter Vo and his elderly mother went to Coles in Broadmeadow, Victoria to buy essential supplies, but they were bullied and forced to leave because of their Asian heritage. Despite being of Philippino origin, they were still targeted and were told not to come back. Now they are living in fear.

"It doesn’t matter about your skin colour or how you look - at the end of the day humans should all be treated with equality," said Mr Vo.

Peter relies on the National Disability Scheme and is disgusted with the levels of racism in Australia - a place he calls home. He left the Philippines when he was just six years of age for a better education but feels it has gone backwards. Peter said his only way to report the incident was by turning to the internet.

Chief Strategy Officer at SEMrush, Eugene Levin says the data insights highlight how people’s first point of action is to turn to Google online searches.

"The recent rise in anti-Chinese sentiment is driving a marked escalation in racial abuse against Asian Australians, but rather than report incidents to the police many are searching online for support and posting their experiences to social media," said Mr Levin.

COVID Anti-Asian Racism Tone on Twitter

Many victims of COVID anti-Asian racism haven’t reported these incidents to the police, but have used their experiences to speak out by posting about their experiences on social media. SEMrush looked at the Twitter sentiment from 19 Apr 2020 to 19 May 2020.

  1. Negative = 97.22%
  2. Positive = 2.78%
  3. Neutral = 0.00%

Methodology: SEMrush analysed Google Search trends and Twitter sentiment from February to April 2020.

About SEMrush:

SEMrush is a trusted data provider whose data on search volume, correlations, web traffic and digital trends is used by the biggest media outlets around the world. Comprised of over 30 tools and collecting search data for 140 countries, SEMrush provides statistics that can enhance any data-driven piece with more up-to-date information and accurate data. Media clients recognise SEMrush for excellence in execution, global outreach and a thorough understanding of their needs. Our analytics and research capabilities are crucial when it comes to the ability to react to hot topics. Our ability to transform the data into valuable insights enables us to work with media outlets on a continuing basis.

Comments are closed.