President Donald Trump is defending his use of the term “Chinese virus” to describe the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Hubei province.
“China and others have criticized you for using the phrase ‘Chinese virus.’ How do you feel about that? Are you going to continue to use that phrase?” a reporter asked the president.
“China was putting out information, which was false, that our military gave this to them,” Trump responded. “That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said I have to call it where it came from. It did come from China. So I think it’s a very accurate term.
“I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody.”
He then pushed back against the reporter’s assertion that using the phrase creates a “stigma.”
“I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma,” the president said.
Trump has been using the term “Chinese virus” in recent days, drawing praise from some for calling it like it is and backlash from others for supposed bigotry.
On Monday, he tweeted, “The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!”
The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2020
China’s largest newspaper, the state-run People’s Daily, attacked the terminology on Twitter.
“Some US politicians try to stigmatize China with #COVID19, which China strongly condemns. China urges the US side to stop this groundless accusation, the Chinese FM spokesperson said on Tuesday in response to US President Trump’s ‘Chinese Virus’ tweet,” the newspaper tweeted.
Some US politicians try to stigmatize China with #COVID19, which China strongly condemns. China urges the US side to stop this groundless accusation, the Chinese FM spokesperson said on Tuesday in response to US President Trump’s “Chinese Virus” tweet. pic.twitter.com/JMDOFignpW
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) March 17, 2020
Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said, “The U.S. should first take care of its own matters,” NBC News reported.
A number of Democrats and others on the left also accused the president of racism or bigotry for using the term “Chinese virus.”
If you’re looking for someone to pin this crisis on, try the guy who made up a phony Google website or promised testing kits that he STILL hasn’t delivered.
Our Asian-American communities — people YOU serve — are already suffering. They don’t need you fueling more bigotry. https://t.co/jjcO7treC2
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 17, 2020
Let me be clear: Calling #COVID19 the “Chinese Virus” is incredibly racist.
Ignorant tweets will only lead to hate and discrimination against the Asian American community.
Stop tweeting racist things and start figuring out how we are getting test kits to everyone who needs one. https://t.co/s6sKtkGNcU
— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) March 17, 2020
Trump just defended his racist comment calling the coronavirus a “Chinese virus.”
Because he’s a racist.
It’s that simple.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 17, 2020
Mr. President: This is not acceptable. Calling it the “Chinese virus” only instigates blame, racism, and hatred against Asians – here and abroad. We need leadership that speaks clearly against racism; Leadership that brings the nation and world together. Not further divides. https://t.co/wPTcnoO5QU
— Eugene Cho (@EugeneCho) March 17, 2020
Despite the backlash, some have defended the president’s decision to use the virus’ place of origin when describing it.
It is not only NOT racist to call coronavirus the Chinese virus — a term directly targeting the Chinese government, not Chinese people — it is both accurate and necessary as the Chinese government distributes propaganda blaming everyone but their own s****y government for this.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 17, 2020
If you think you’re having a bad day… imagine being someone who got excited to virtue signal by saying that it’s racist to call it the “Chinese Virus” even though that’s EXACTLY where it originated.
Pandemics don’t care how #woke you are.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) March 17, 2020
I reserve the right to use Wuhan virus and Chinese virus as they are not racist, but geographic descriptors like Ebola, Zika, Rocky Mountain fever, St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile, etc.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) March 17, 2020
Trump previously drew criticism from CNN’s Jim Acosta for referring to the coronavirus as a “foreign virus.”
Trump calls coronavirus a ‘foreign virus’ in Oval Office address https://t.co/KcuSvjeEdJ
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) March 12, 2020
Acosta claimed on CNN that the president’s referring to coronavirus as a “foreign virus” came across “to a lot of Americans as smacking of xenophobia.”
Trump’s comment Tuesday about China blaming the spread of the virus on the U.S. military is in response to a conspiracy theory being pushed by Chinese officials that the virus did not originate in Wuhan, or even in China.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, posted a video of Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, addressing Congress about the virus March 11.
“CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” Zhao Lijian wrote.
“Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” he said.
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
CNN reported other Chinese state media outlets, including national broadcaster CCTV and the tabloid Global Times, also shared the video on Twitter.
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