Coronavirus: Trump defends using name ‘Chinese virus’: It’s not racist – it comes from China’

Comes amid reports of hate crime attacks on Asian-Americans

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 18 March 2020 13:37 GMT
Trump defends using name 'Chinese virus': It's not racist - it comes from China'

Donald Trump has defended using the term “China virus” to refer to the coronavirus, insisting it is not racist.

The president and a number of his senior officials, including Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, have repeatedly referred to Covid-19, the first human cases of which were detected last year in China, as the “Chinese virus”.

They have done that despite recommendations of health officials, who have pointed out the disease has become a global pandemic.

“Why do you keep calling this the “Chinese virus” – a lot of people say it’s racist,” he was asked.

Mr Trump replied: “Because it comes from China, it’s not racist at all. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”

Mr Trump was asked about comments from Republican congressman Tom Cotton who has claimed China should be held “accountable” for failing to do more to stop the virus spreading overseas.

“I have every confidence America will once again marshal the resolve, toughness, and genius of our people to overcome the serious threat to our health and well-being posed by the Wuhan coronavirus,” Mr Cotton said in a statement last week.

“We will emerge stronger from this challenge, we will hold accountable those who inflicted it on the world, and we will prosper in the new day.”

Mr Trump said he had great respect for Mr Cotton and said “we will see what happens”.

Coronavirus in numbers

He was asked he thought China deserved to be punished for “inflicting” the disease.

“I don’t think they inflected it,” he said. “But I think they could have given us notice a lot earlier.”

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