Use of ‘China virus’ led to spike in anti-Asian bias: study

The use of the phrase “China virus” by top administration officials, including President Trump, has coincided with a surge in discrimination against Asian-Americans, according to a new study.

The study, from professors at the Universities of California  Berkeley and San Francisco  as well as the Tulane School of Medicine, found that years of incidents of violence and bias against Asian Americans trending downward was reversed earlier this year after top U.S. officials used the term to describe the COVID-19 outbreak.

It also found that bias by Americans toward Asian Americans “declined steadily from 2007 through early 2020 but reversed trend and began to increase on March 8, following the increase in stigmatizing language in conservative media outlets,” according to the study’s abstract.

Eli Michaels, a researcher on the study, told NBC News in an interview that U.S. officials’ statements had added a racial connotation to the virus, leading to a rise in anti-Asian bias.

“Progress against bias is generally stable,” Michaels said. “But this particular rhetoric, which associates a racial group with a global pandemic, has particularly pernicious effects.”

Top administration officials began using the term when the number of virus cases increased in the U.S. earlier this year. President Trump has used the term repeatedly in public events and on social media in order to blame its origins. Early cases of the virus were first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

“Big China Virus breakouts all over the World, including nations which were thought to have done a great job. The Fake News doesn’t report this,” he tweeted in August.

In late March, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was reportedly was pressing members of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations to refer to the virus as the “Wuhan Virus” in an effort to center blame on Chinese officials for the virus’s spread. The U.S. now has confirmed more than seven million cases of the virus and more than 200,000 deaths as a result of the pandemic.

The State Department has frequently blamed Chinese Communist Party officials for the virus’s spread under Pompeo’s leadership, and has argued that stonewalling of global health authorities by Chinese officials led to the virus not being properly understood for months.

Tags Donald Trump Mike Pompeo

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