Close-up photograph of president donald trump's speech about the coronavirus with the word "corona" crossed out and the word "chinese" written above it.

Chinese Virus

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Updated Mar 23, 2020 at 01:17PM EDT by andcallmeshirley.

Added Mar 20, 2020 at 03:24PM EDT by Matt.

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Overview

Chinese Virus is a controversial name for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) used by United States President Donald Trump. Many criticized Trump's usage of the phrase, calling descriptor as racist, while the President and his supporters maintain that they are referring to the virus' country of origin.

Background

On December 8th, 2019, the first symptoms related to the virus began occurring in Wuhan, China, with the first reported cases on December 31st. On January 10th, 2020, The New York Times[1] reported that the early death related to the virus had occurred in Wuhan. On January 21st, The Straits Times[2] reported that a sixth person had died from pneumonia following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Months later, on March 10th, 2020, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted "Now, more than ever, we need the wall With China Virus spreading across the globe, the US stands a chance if we can control of our borders President Trump is making it happen I explain why this matters & SO MUCH MORE!" Trump retweeted the message and wrote, "Going up fast. We need the Wall more than ever!" Trump's retweet received more than 70,000 likes and 19,000 retweets in less than one month (shown below).[3]


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Going up fast. We need the Wall more than ever! Charlie Kirk O @charliekirk11 · Mar 10 Now, more than ever, we need the wall With China Virus spreading across the globe, the US stands a chance if we can control of our borders President Trump is making it happen I explain why this matters & SO MUCH MORE! Subscribe-apple.co/3355T56 AMPIS TURNING POINT USA 2:20 6.6M views 4:08 AM · Mar 10, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone

Developments

Criticism

Following the tweet, some began criticizing Trump's usage of the term. Democratic Representative Lois Frankel said, "It’s absolutely wrong and inappropriate to call this the Chinese coronavirus." The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield agreed.[4]

On March 16th, 2020, Trump tweeted,[5] "The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!" The tweet received more than 326,000 likes and 72,000 retweets in less than one week (shown below, left).

The following day, CBS reporter Weijia Jiang tweeted,[8] "This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the 'Kung-Flu' to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back." The tweet received more than 451,000 likes and 98,000 retweets in less than one week (shown below, center).

On March 18th, following Trump's continued usage of the phrase, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted,[6] "Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job." The tweet received more than 100,000 likes and 18,000 retweets in less than two days (shown below, right).


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before! 3:51 PM · Mar 16, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone Weijia Jiang @weijia This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the "Kung-Flu" to my face. Makes me wonder what they're calling it behind my back. 7:35 AM · Mar 17, 2020 from Washington, DC · Twitter for iPhone Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) @JoeBiden Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job. Donald J. Trump @realDonald Trump · Mar 18 I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the "borders" from China - against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false! 12:35 PM · Mar 18, 2020 · Twitter Web App

That day, C-SPAN tweeted a video of Trump answering a question about why he refers to the coronavirus as "the Chinese Virus." He responded, "It comes from China…it's not racist." The tweet received more than 1.3 million views, 15,000 likes and 3,800 retweets in less than one week (shown below).

The verified White House Twitter[7] account echoed these sentiments, comparing the phrase to other diseased "named for places." They wrote, "Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places. 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." The tweet received more than 112,000 likes, 34,000 retweets and 30,000 comments in less than two days (shown below).


The White House H @WhiteHouse Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places. 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. 11:34 AM · Mar 18, 2020 · TheWhiteHouse


Crossed Out "Corona" Photograph

On March 19th, 2020, Washington Post photograph Jabin Botsford tweeted,[9] "Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes." The tweet received more than 67,000 likes and 31,000 retweets in less than two days (shown below).


Jabin Botsford @jabinbotsford Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes inistralon o prolec ove ople and the 11.33 CHIMUN पगी from the me 11:06 AM · Mar 19, 2020 · Twitter Web App

Some pointed to this picture as an example of racism. Comedian Patton Oswalt shared the photograph and wrote,[10] "this incompetent racist asshole." The post received more than 90,000 likes and 14,000 retweets in less than one week (shown below, left). Throughout the day, others shared the sentiment (examples below, center and right).


Patton Oswalt @pattonoswalt this incompetent racist a------ Jabin Botsford @jabinbotsford · Mar 19 Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes inisitration 11.33 1o protec be ople and the Am CHIMIN from to 12:19 PM · Mar 19, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone Cradle of Sloth 5 @CaseyExplosion In the 80's, anti-Japanese rhetoric was so intense that it resulted in the murder of a Chinese-American man named Vincent Chin, after he was accosted by two auto workers mistaking him for Japanese and attacked him for stealing American jobs. This rhetoric will have a human cost. Jabin Botsford @jabinbotsford · Mar 19 Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes inistraion 1133 1oprotec he జ ople and the SHIMIN rom the R 1:48 PM · Mar 19, 2020 · Twitter Web App Josh Barro @jbarro Among other things, what this shows is they're using the term "the coronavirus" internally like everyone else and are throwing this up publicly because they would rather have an argument about political correctness than discuss the response itself. Jabin Botsford @jabinbotsford · Mar 19 Close up of President @realDonald Trump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes ninistration 1133 1o prolec oe ople and ihe o SHIMIN from the me 11:24 AM · Mar 19, 2020 · TweetDeck

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