President Trump on Wednesday defended himself from the allegations of racism and xenophobia that were leveled in response to his calling the Wuhan coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” telling reporters that “it comes from China” and that “it’s not racist at all” to use the label.
Trump used the term “Chinese virus” in a tweet Wednesday morning, and was asked about why he used the phrase by ABC reporter Cecilia Vega, who referenced “dozens of incidents of bias against Chinese Americans” since the outbreak.
“Because it comes from China,” Trump stated, adding that “it’s not racist at all, no, not at all.”
“It comes from China, that’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate,” Trump said. “I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know, China tried to say at one point — maybe they stopped now — that it was caused by American soldiers. That can’t happen, it’s not going to happen, not as long as I’m president.”
Q: "Why do you keep calling this the Chinese Virus?"
President Trump: "It comes from China…it's not racist."
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 18, 2020
Trump declared later in the press conference that “I know where it came from.”
“I don’t know if you’d say China’s to blame, certainly we didn’t get an early run on it, it would’ve been helpful if we knew about it earlier,” Trump said. “But it comes from China, and it’s not a question about that, nobody is questioning that.”
The White House then accused the media of “fake outrage” after the press conference.
Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places.
Before the media’s fake outrage, even CNN called it “Chinese Coronavirus.”
Those trying to divide us must stop rooting for America to fail and give Americans real info they need to get through the crisis.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 18, 2020
China has moved to block reporting from mainstream American outlets by revoking press passes from reporters at the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, as Beijing faces questions over its handling of the original outbreak in Wuhan.
Independent Chinese media reported that in December, Wuhan labs sequenced the novel coronavirus and found it closely resembled the deadly SARS virus that killed nearly 800 people in 2002-2003. But Chinese authorities subsequently gagged the laboratories and ordered researchers to hand over or destroy the samples and not release their findings.
Earlier on Wednesday, Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) called for a “full, international investigation” to get to the bottom of the Chinese Communist Party’s decisions that resulted in “a global pandemic.”