Donald Trump’s tweets on ‘Chinese virus’ slammed as instigating hatred
Asked about it at a news briefing on Tuesday, the president blamed China for starting it by alleging the American military brought the virus to Wuhan, where the outbreak started.Updated: Mar 17, 2020 22:54 IST
President Donald Trump on Monday called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus”, which critics said, could fuel the undercurrent of hostility and backlash already being faced by people of Chinese descent and Asians, victims of the kind of otherization WHO had warned about last month.
The American president, who had earlier called coronavirus the “foreign virus, wrote in a tweet Monday, “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 went on to use the same phrase in another post Tuesday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called the virus the “Wuhan Virus” and other Republican leaders have gone with the “Chinese Coronavirus”.
Asked about it at a news briefing on Tuesday, the president blamed China for starting it by alleging the American military brought the virus to Wuhan, where the outbreak started. Rather than getting into an argument about it, the president said he decided to call it as it is and point to where the virus came from.
The response from China, before the president addressed the issue, was predictably sharp — a spokesman said the tweet amounted to “stigmatization of China”.
But so has been criticism at home. “Mr. President: This is not acceptable,” Eugene Ko, an evangelical leader wrote on twitter. “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.”
Instances of the targeting of people of Chinese descent and Asians have been reported from various parts of the United States. A member of the staff of a New York politician was fired earlier March for forwarding a Facebook post urging people to stay from Chinese restaurants, supermarkets and businesses saying, without any proof, “Many of the owners went back to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year celebrations. They are returning and some are bringing along the coronavirus. Rather be safe than sorry.” Many Chinese restaurants and cafes have reported massive drops in clientele.
“Chinese and Asian American businesses reported large decreases in businesses as customers feared catching coronavirus at these establishments and their enclaves,” researchers from San Francisco State University have said in a report, adding, “Asian Americans of all ethnicities including Southeast Asians and East Asians faced shunning harassment and assault.”
The World Health Organization had warned against this kind of otherization around the world in February. “Since the emergence of #COVID19 we have seen instances of public stigmatization among specific populations and the rise of harmful stereotypes,” it had said in a tweet then.