The petition has garnered over 1000 signaturesWikimedia Commons

Content Note: this article contains detailed discussion of racial violence, racist slurs and graphic images of violence 

Yuanzhao Zhang, a Cambridge University alumnus, has launched a new petition entitled “Stop Asian Hate, after being the victim of a racial attack on 18 September. Yuanzhao Zhang is 25 years old and previously studied an MPhil in Machine Learning at Darwin College.

The unprovoked assault took place in a Co-op on Mill Road during Zhang’s weekly shop. Zhang reported being approached by roughly 10 teenagers in the Co-op’s dairy aisle who began taunting him with racial slurs such as “chink” and “go back to your home country”

Zhang attempted to leave the situation by pushing through the crowd but was met with violence, as the group started to punch and beat him. 

During the attack, Zhang sustained several injuries including a broken nasal bone and septum. One of the perpetrators saw that Zhang’s nose had been broken and the group ran away. 

Zhang tried to pursue the aggressors with the help of a passerby but was unsuccessful. The passerby then drove him to Addenbrooke’s Hospital where his injuries were treated. 

Zhang said that the “physical and mental damage is overwhelming”, and has since required nasal surgery. 

Following the attack, Zhang launched a petition, “Stop Asian Hate”, and wrote a joint letter from the Cambridge Asian Community to Daniel Zeichner, the Cambridge MP, calling for action. He has also set up a forum where other Asian citizens in Cambridge can voice any abuse that they have experienced. 

The petition aims to raise awareness of the “growing trend of hatred towards Asian residents” and has garnered over 1000 signatures so far.

In his joint letter, Zhang urges Zeichner to “unite and lead all the Asian students/residents, whether Chinese or Korean, Indian or Japanese, to combat the growing number of hate crimes towards Asians.”

Zhang sustained several injuries including a broken nasal bone and septum

Zhang feels that the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have heightened the racial tensions directed towards the Asian community. 

Zhang stressed that other hate crimes have been committed recently which he suspects are connected: "A few current Cambridge students experienced similar assaults in front of Christ College and John Lewis in the city centre last weekend.” 

“They were harassed and spilt with liquid, which almost brought about a fight."

Zhang commented: “On behalf of the victims of a series of recent hate crimes targeting Asian students and residents here in Cambridge, we feel that we haven't got our voices heard by the general public well enough." He also added that he feels “scared” and “furious”. 

Daniel Zeichner stated in response to Zhang’s letter: "I was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of what happened and the injuries sustained because of the assault [...] I pledge to do what I can to help efforts in countering hatred in our city.” 

"I am meeting the Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police very soon and will discuss with him how best we all can support Cambridge’s Asian community at this difficult time."

The Cambridge Student Union’s BME Officer, Tara Choudhury, also commented on the incident, saying that she was “horrified” to hear about the attack that took place on Mill Road. 

“As a resident of Mill Road, a member of the Asian community and as the University’s BME Officer, it disgusts me that such blatant acts of racially motivated violence can take place here in Cambridge and are on the rise nationally.”

Choudhury has arranged to meet the regional manager of the Mill Road Co-ops to discuss how to “confront anti-Asian hate as a community and show active solidarity when these incidents occur.” 

She has also reached out to the Association of British and Chinese University Students (ABACUS) to further support Asian students and encourages students to get in touch with the Students Advice Service for support. 


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“The rise in anti-Asian hate following the pandemic has not gone unnoticed by myself, or the SU - I want to assure people that this is an issue we are working to address specifically in the anti-racist training for students and staff that is being developed with the BME Campaign,” Choudhury added.

The police have stated that “an investigation has been launched and enquiries are ongoing.”

The police stressed that “[they] do not tolerate hate crime and urge people to report all incidents, no matter how minor they may seem.

"We have a diverse community in Cambridgeshire and we recognise that everyone should be allowed to live their lives free from harassment and the fear of hate crime.”