Critics are accusing Donald Trump of racism after telling Weijia Jiang, a reporter of Asian descent, to “ask China” a question she had posed him on the response to the coronavirus.
The statement led to a heated exchange that ended with Trump abruptly ending the press conference, prompting many of his critics to accuse him of making a racially charged reply to the CBS News reporter. As The Independent reported, the exchange took place after Jiang asked Trump why he sometimes seems to view the coronavirus outbreak as a “global race” on issues like death tolls and the number of tests given. In the daily coronavirus briefings, the president had frequently compared the United States to other countries as he touted the number of tests administered.
When Trump told Jiang to “ask China” the same question, she lowered her face mask and asked him if there was a reason he was asking her that. The president replied that he asks that of all reporters.
As CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins approached the microphone to ask a question after having been called on, Trump refused to answer. When Collins pointed out that Trump had called on her and continued with her question as he called on another reporter, the president ended the press conference.
The incident led to criticism for Trump, with many people accusing him of racism for telling a reporter of Asian descent to ask China a question. Jiang is an Asian American, having been born in China and moving to West Virginia with her family when she was 2.
Just when you think Trump’s behaviour can’t get uglier , he throws in a bit of casual racism followed by sexismpic.twitter.com/6VtoiECtVZ
— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) May 11, 2020
.@weijia: Why is this a global competition to you when Americans are losing their lives every day?
TRUMP: Maybe that's a question you should ask China.
WEIJA: Why are you saying that to me, specifically?
TRUMP: I'm saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that. pic.twitter.com/hokJOXASh8
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 11, 2020
As reporter Shannon Watts noted on Twitter, Jiang had previously claimed that an unnamed White House official referred to the coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” when speaking to her.
This is not the first time that Trump has been accused of racism after a testy exchange with a female reporter of color at his daily coronavirus briefings. In another incident in March, Trump told PBS News’ Yamiche Alcindor, who is black, that “you people” should be more positive when addressing him at the press conferences.
Though it appeared from his answer that Trump intended “you people” to refer to reporters, many individuals pointed out that the phrase has historically had a negative racial connotation when used to address people of color.
As Politico noted in a 2018 report, a number of media groups and reporters have accused Trump of being particularly harsh and often using personal insults in his treatment with female reporters, and more so with those of color.
“While the president insults many journalists, these critics say his barbs targeting women and people of color feel especially sharp, and hit at the reporter’s basic intelligence and competence as a person,” the outlet wrote. “It’s a tone that black reporters and scholars of African-American history say particularly stings, given that African-American journalists were not allowed into the White House until 1947 — and that the White House press corps remains overwhelmingly white to this day.”