Donald Trump has been criticized as “racist” for his use of the phrase “Chinese virus” to refer to the novel coronavirus. According to a Politico report, his use of the term is an “attempt to deflect blame for the public health crisis” caused by the rampaging virus that has killed a reported 174 Americans as of Thursday afternoon.
Trump first used the term “Chinese virus” for “coronavirus” on Monday of this week, according to the Politico report. He has since used the term repeatedly, both in press briefings and on his Twitter account. He even used it in his introductory remarks at a Tuesday meeting with executives in the hard-hit tourism industry.
Trump has claimed that use of the term is not racist at all, saying that he uses the phrase only because “it comes from China. I want to be accurate.”
Following his press briefing on Thursday, however, a photograph posted to Twitter by Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford showed that Trump appears to be going out of his way to use the term. The photo, as seen below in this page, showed that on the printed text of his remarks from which he read aloud on Thursday, Trump had crossed out the term “corona” in the words “corona virus,” writing the word “Chinese” over it in black Sharpie.
Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes pic.twitter.com/kVw9yrPPeJ
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) March 19, 2020
Trump continued to push back on the claim that his use of “Chinese virus” is racist, when on Thursday he took a question from Chanel Rion, a reporter from the pro-Trump cable network, One America News, who offered him the opportunity to defend his use of the phrase by comparing it to the term “Chinese food.”
“Do you consider the term ‘Chinese food’ to be racist because it is food that originated from China?” Rion asked Trump, who responded that he did not consider the term to be racist.
Rion then asked Trump if he found it “alarming” that “major media players, just to oppose you, are siding with foreign state propaganda,” as quoted by The Daily Beast. She claimed that “media players” took sides with Islamic terrorists and Latin American gang members against Trump.
John C. Yang, president of the advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, told NBC News that Trump’s use of the “Chinese virus” phrase had triggered an increase in violent hate incidents against Asian Americans.
“I absolutely think that words used by him matter,” Yang told NBC News, adding that he believed there was a “correlation” between Trump’s repeated use of the phrase that could be interpreted as blaming Chinese people for the virus, and the “incline” in hate attacks against Asian Americans.