US-China war of words over Trump’s 'Chinese virus' remark

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on March 18, 2020 Published on March 18, 2020

US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference.   -  Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump defended calling coronavirus a “Chinese virus” on Tuesday and added that he is trying to quash the false narrative peddled by China that the US military has spread the virus, as per media reports.

Speaking at the White House news conference, President Trump told reporters: “Well, China was putting out information which was false that our military did this to them. That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said I had to call it where it came from. It did come from China.”

Claiming that the remark he made on China was right, he added: “So I think it’s a very accurate term. I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody.”

Trump later convened a meeting with CEOs of the tourism industry and used the term “Chinese virus” to denote the deadly disease. Trump maintained that it is not creating any stigma against Asians in the US and asserted that it was China who intended to create a “stigma against the US military.”

Trump also mentioned in the news conference that he made the right decision by imposing a travel ban on China.

US-China war of words

The Chinese spokesperson on March 12 hinted that US military may be responsible for bringing the coronavirus to China’s Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, Reuters reported.

China’s accusation came a day after US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien commented that China did not handle the coronavirus well when it was at its nascent stage. It is likely to cost the world two months when it could have prepared and dramatically limited the outbreak.

As a response to China’s comment on the US military, President Trump went on calling the virus Chinese. In his tweet on Monday, Trump described US airlines and other industries being “particularly affected by the Chinese Virus”. Later on Tuesday, he tweeted that some US states were “being hit hard by the Chinese Virus.”

Trump’s allies had also seen addressing the virus as “Chinese coronavirus,” which was not taken well by the Chinese President Xi Jinping and said it was “strongly indignant” over the phrase, which he called “a kind of stigmatization.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing that the US should “immediately stop its unjustified accusations against China.”

Asia-American communities in the US also slammed Trump’s comment on China.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose state is one of the hardest-hit by the virus in the country, tweeted: “Our Asian-American communities -- people YOU serve -- are already suffering. They don’t need you fuelling more bigotry,”

The World Health Organization also maintained that more cases and deaths had been reported in the rest of the world than in China.

So far, the virus has infected more than 1,50,000 people around the world, while the spread has slowed down in China, the worst affected remains Italy with more than 31,000 infected and around 2,000 died due to the disease.

Published on March 18, 2020
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