Trump expresses support for Asian Americans after repeatedly using term ‘Chinese virus’


President Trump on Monday expressed support for Asian Americans after repeatedly referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” despite critics who say the term is racist and fosters discrimination.

“It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and all around the world,” Trump tweeted. “They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form. They are working closely with us to get rid of it. WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!”

Trump did not use the term “Chinese virus” during his press briefing on Monday. In his opening remarks, he echoed his tweet by saying Asian Americans are not at fault for the spread of the virus.

Asked later why he singled out the Asian American community, Trump acknowledged the group may be facing bias.

“It seems that there could be a little bit of nasty language toward the Asian Americans in our country, and I don’t like that at all,” Trump said.

He made no mention of his own use of the term “Chinese virus” and talked over a question about whether that contributed to the problem.

The president has repeatedly described the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” including as recently as Sunday. He has faced numerous questions about why he uses the label despite officials in his own administration who say it is not appropriate and does not favor one ethnicity over another.

“It’s not racist at all. No. Not at all,” Trump told reporters last week. “It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”

He denied last week that the term created a stigma around Asian Americans. Some Trump-allied conservative commentators have argued that using the term holds China accountable as the place where the virus originated, particularly after Chinese officials suggested that it may have been brought to the city of Wuhan by the U.S. Army.

But multiple news outlets in recent weeks have reported on incidents of Asian Americans facing discrimination, being yelled at or being harassed because of the coronavirus, and lawmakers have urged Trump to stop using the term. The New York Times on Sunday reported that a young Chinese woman who moved to the U.S. five years ago had a middle-aged man spit at her as she waited to cross the street.

—Updated at 7:28 p.m.

Tags China Coronavirus Donald Trump The New York Times Wuhan

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