President Trump drew backlash Monday night after posting a tweet using the phrase “Chinese Virus.”
After giving an address Monday afternoon in which he said that the country “may be” headed toward recession and urged social distancing, he later tweeted his confidence in and support for various sectors, while including the offensive remark.
“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!,” he wrote.
Many officials, including the Center for Disease Control and Protection chief, have criticized the phrase as both inaccurate and potentially harmful in tying racist associations between the virus and those from China.
The comments prompted massive backlash from many social media users, including New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who pointed out how the tweet is misplacing blame and could put more Asian Americans in danger.
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
And I hate bringing more attention to the fact that he said Chinese virus... but I’d like us to continue to look out for our Asian brothers and sisters who are experiencing attacks against them because people are assuming they have the virus because they are Chinese https://t.co/NPvwUKn95Q
— aj rafael (@ajRAFAEL) March 17, 2020
Trump just tweeted “Chinese virus” Say hello to 25 years of Asian American kids taking hell for no sin of their own. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
This guy is a nightmare. A pig.
— Nate McMurray for Congress 2020 (@Nate_McMurray) 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
Trump has previously referred to COVID-19 as a “foreign virus” and has also retweeted a supporter who used the term “China Virus.” His newest reference comes days after CDC director Robert Redfield agreed when questioned at a House hearing that it was "absolutely wrong and inappropriate" to use labels like “Chinese coronavirus” as the virus had now expanded beyond China to other parts of the world. The are currently roughly 3500 confirmed cases of the illness in the U.S. alone as of Monday night.
Many others have condemned the practice of identifying the illness by location or ethnicity, including the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which called on their fellow legislators to to “help us prevent hysteria, ignorant attacks, and racist assaults that have been fueled by misinformation pertaining to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” by only sharing confirmed and verifiable information.
While some, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., publicly condemned the racism tied to the pandemic, others House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy have continued to use the offensive language, pointing to outlets that have used similar wording.
The Asian American Journalists Association previously released guidelines for responsible reporting in February to curb against “fueling xenophobia and racism that have already emerged since the outbreak.”
Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., previously told NBC News that it's possible that several GOP legislators have continued to use the rhetoric as a possible tactic to distract from Trump's handling of the pandemic. She said it's likely officials are using China or Asian Americans as scapegoats “versus actually dealing with the problem at hand.”
Along with the virus’ spread, there has been an increase in racist incidents and discrimination targeting Asian Americans. Two Hmong guests endured harassment and were later barred from staying at first a Super 8 and then a Days Inn in Indiana. In a separate incident, an Asian teen in California was bullied, assaulted, and sent to the emergency due to fears surrounding the pandemic.
DeBlasio held a media roundtable on Wednesday to publicly condemn coronavirus-related discrimination against Asian communities in NYC.
“Right now, we've seen particularly troubling instances of discrimination directed at Asian communities, particularly in Chinese community,” he said. “This is unacceptable.”