The White House issued a tweet Wednesday afternoon, doubling down on Donald Trump's continued use of referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus." The tweet referenced other widespread illnesses and alleged CNN had itself used the term in its own reporting.
"Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places," the message read. "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."
On Wednesday, Trump told reporters at the White House coronavirus task force’s daily news briefing that he believed he was justified in using the term, which he has done repeatedly this week.
"'Cause it comes from China," he said, via CNN. "It's not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate."
"I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know, China tried to say at one point ... that it was caused by American soldiers," he added. "That can't happen, it's not going to happen, not as long as I'm President. It comes from China."
The first reported cases of the virus were in Wuhan, China, and the country was the first to institute major lockdown measures an effort to control the spread of the disease. Trump further defended his use of the term "China virus" during a White House briefing on Tuesday.
"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," he said. "China was putting out information, which was false, that our military gave 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. So, I think it's a very accurate term."
Last week, CNN reported that a prominent Chinese official promoted a conspiracy theory that the United States military could have brought the novel coronavirus to China. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on March 4 that "no conclusion has been reached yet on the origin of the virus" and that Chinese scientists were still attempting to determine where it came from.
Despite the potential campaign by the Chinese government, Trump's repeated use of the term "Chinese virus" has been criticized for inciting discrimination against Asian Americans.
"You have no idea the ramifications your racist words and actions have on the Asian-American community," actor Lana Condor tweeted in a message to Trump on Thursday. "You simply cannot even fathom the danger you are putting our community in. How dare you. You should be ashamed of yourself."
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