President Donald Trump abruptly ended a press conference on Monday after a heated exchange with CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang. This started when Jian asked Trump why he spoke about the coronavirus pandemic as a "global competition" when so many Americans were still losing their lives.
"Maybe that's a question you should ask China," Trump told Jiang. "Don't ask me. Ask China that question, OK?" The president then tried to call on CNN's Kaitlan Collins however Jiang instead followed up with, "why are you saying that to me specifically." As CNN notes, Jiang was born in China and emigrated to the U.S. when she was 2 years old.
"I'm telling you," Trump replied. "I'm not saying it specifically to anybody. I'm saying it to anybody that asks a nasty question." After several seconds of back-and-forth between Trump, Jian, Collins and other reporters, Collins said that she "just wanted to let my colleague finish," seemingly referring to Jiang. "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much," was the president's formal reply, before quickly exiting the Rose Garden.
This is not the first time that Trump has found himself using China as a scapegoat for coronavirus. Most notably, he constantly referred to coronavirus as a "Chinese virus," which was widely criticized for being racist. Back in March, just days after declaring the pandemic a national emergency, Trump defended the term at another press conference, saying that he uses it because the virus "comes from China."
"It's not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate," the president continued. "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. That can't happen, it's not going to happen, not as long as I'm President. It comes from China."
Also in March, a photographer noticed that Trump had crossed out the word "corona" in some prepared remarks at another press conference, and with a sharpie had written "Chinese" in its place. Which, of course, brought back all sorts of memories of 'Sharpie-Gate,' when he adamantly insisted that Hurrican Dorian was slated to hit the state of Alabama, which it did not.
As of Monday, John's Hopkins University has reported that there are over 1.3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. There are just under 4.2 million confirmed cases around the globe.