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Former Washington Journalist
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Although the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 222,000 people and has killed more than 9,000 worldwide, once had its origins in Wuhan, China, the virus and the COVID-19 pandemic it’s caused has spread across the globe.
Although the pandemic is hitting hard in places as far flung as Italy, Iran and the United States, Donald Trump and other US politicians on the right continue to insist on calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.”
Trump defended his characterization in a back-and-forth with a reporter.
“Because it comes from China. 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.
“Aren’t you concerned about the Chinese Americans in this country? Your aides behind you, are you comfortable with the term?” the reporter asked.
“I have great love for all the people from our country. But as you know, China tried to say at one point — maybe they’ve stopped now — that it was caused by American soldiers,” Trump said. “That can’t happen. It’s not going to happen. Not as long as I’m president. It comes from China.”
Trump has been known for using divisive and racially inflammatory rhetoric since he first began running for president.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) to task for also referring to the virus as “Chinese.”
Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, made it very clear in an on-air report that the virus is not a “Chinese virus.”
“It’s easy to scapegoat people. And that is what has always happened when there have been pandemics or epidemics, that foreigners are attacked, foreigners sometimes physically attacked,” Engel said.
“If you look at what happened during the Middle Ages, there was lots and lots of scapegoating against an ethnic group or a religious group whenever there were pandemics that affected the society and threatened a lot of people. And China certainly feels that is what happened, what is happening now, with people calling it the Wuhan flu or the Wuhan virus or the China virus,” Engel added.
“This is a virus that came from the territory of China, but came from bats,” Engel said. “This is a bat virus, not a China virus. It doesn’t speak Chinese, it doesn’t target Chinese people, it targets human beings who happen to touch their eyes, their nose or mouth.”
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