Donald Trump and the ‘Chinese virus’
Trump has said that he is "upset" with China over its “late” sharing of information on coronavirus. The Republican leader has insisted that he is justified in labeling the pandemic as the “Chinese virus”, dismissing criticism that the branding is racially offensive and inaccurately depicts the global nature of the disease’s threat.
US President Donald Trump has again referred to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) as the “Chinese virus” despite criticism from Beijing that the term is racist. The Republican leader has been repeatedly saying it in his speeches and tweets, hinting that “this is all China’s fault”. On Monday, the Republican leader used the term in a tweet to US Senator Rand Paul, wishing him a speedy recovery.
My friend (always there when I’ve needed him!), Senator @RandPaul, was just tested “positive” from the Chinese Virus. That is not good! He is strong and will get better. Just spoke to him and he was in good spirits.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2020
Paul became the first US senator to test positive for the virus.
Last week, Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford had released a photo in which he captured Trump's notes during coronavirus task force briefing. Take a look at the picture:
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
In the picture, Trump, quite clearly, had crossed out "corona" before "virus" and replaced it with the word "Chinese." According to CNN, the edit was part of a “concerted effort by the President and some in his administration to change the public understanding of this as a global pandemic that's every nation's responsibility to: China did this”.
But Trump has insisted that he was justified in branding the coronavirus pandemic as the “Chinese virus,” dismissing criticism that the label is racially offensive and inaccurately depicts the global nature of the disease’s threat.
"It's not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate. ... I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know China tried to say at one point ... that it was caused by American soldiers. That can't happen, it's not gonna happen, not as long as I'm president. It comes from China."
Trump first employed “Chinese virus” online last Monday and again Tuesday, lamenting the industries and states that have been affected by the outbreak, which he had until then stylized as the “CoronaVirus” in messages on social media. He also mentioned the “Chinese Virus” in his opening remarks at a White House meeting with tourism industry executives on Tuesday, as well as at the outset of Wednesday’s briefing.
I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the “borders” from China - against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
Currently, the coronavirus pandemic has killed over 400 people in the US, with nearly 34,000 confirmed infection cases.
On Sunday, Trump said he was "upset" with China over its late sharing of information on coronavirus. "They should have told us about this. I'm a little upset with China. I'll be honest with you, because as much as I like (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping) and as much as I respect and admire the country," Trump told reporters at a press conference in the White House.
Trump said soon after he received information about the spread of the deadly viral infection in China, he wanted to send US medical team there. However, China did not allow.
Without specifying any timeline, Trump said he had spoken to President Xi "specifically" about sending US team to China, however, "he doesn't want this... this is not something that he wants".
The US President said it is "out of pride" that China didn't "want us to send people" and "they didn't really respond".
Reiterating that America's relationship with China is "very good", Trump said, "I wish they (had) told us three months sooner that this was a problem. We didn't know about it. They knew about it and they should (have) told us. We could have saved a lot of lives throughout the world."
Meanwhile, the US and Chinese officials continued with their war of words over coronavirus on Twitter.
"Since early January, the CCP has retaliated against its citizens and journalists in China for making information public, launched disinformation campaigns around the world, and limited the international community's access to valuable public health information," the National Security Council of the White House tweeted.
On March 20, Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson of the US State Department, tweeted: "By Jan. 3, Chinese authorities had already ordered #COVID19 virus samples destroyed, silenced Wuhan doctors, and censored public concerns online. @SpokespersonCHN is right: This is a timeline the world must absolutely scrutinize."
Responding to the tweet, Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Hua Chunying said China has been updating the US on coronavirus and its response since January 3. On January 15, the US State Department notified Americans in China about the US Centre for Disease Control's warning against the coronavirus. "And now blame China for Delay? Seriously," she said.
China, Hua tweeted, has treated Covid-19 as highly pathogenic virus according to the law on prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
"As WHO stated, China identified the pathogen in a record short time and shared genetic sequence with the world, which helped others with epidemic response," she said. However, Ortagus denied her remarks.
"Nonsense. You call it 'highly pathogenic' now, but last month your officials blocked a WHO report from calling COVID19 a 'dangerous pathogen'," she said, tagging a link of a 'Financial Times' article on the topic to buttress her argument.