On March 16, Trump posted: “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 following day, at a daily press conference on the coronavirus outbreak response held at the White House, Trump explained his choice of words.
“China was putting out information that was false, [saying] that our military gave this [coronavirus] to them,” Trump said. “Rather than having an argument, I had to call it where it came from. It’s a very accurate term.”
Chinese media outlets first promoted the U.S. origin narrative in late February, after China’s top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said that there was a possibility the coronavirus didn’t originate from China.
Then, on March 12, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, alleged in a Twitter post that the U.S. military spread the virus to China.
Asked by a journalist his thoughts on Beijing’s claim that Trump was “stigmatizing China” by referring to the virus as the “Chinese virus,” Trump replied, “Our military did not give it [the coronavirus] to anybody. I think saying our military gave it to them [China] creates a stigma.”
Trump’s tweet angered the Chinese regime.
On March 17, Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said at a daily press briefing that connecting the coronavirus with China “is stigmatizing China.”
Geng said: “We urge the United States to correct their mistake as soon as possible, and stop blaming China without evidence.”
Geng asked the United States to “take care of its own business,” without elaborating.
Chinese state media recently criticized U.S. officials for referring to the virus as the Wuhan or Chinese virus.
“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. national security adviser Robert C.O’Brien … insisted on calling the novel coronavirus Wuhan Virus or Chinese virus. … The virus became their weapon against China,” state-run media Xinhua stated in a March 15 editorial.
Both officials have used the term “Wuhan coronavirus.”
Xinhua called U.S. politicians “prideful, prejudiced, and ignorant.” It also mentioned a study published in The Lancet medical journal, in which more than a dozen legal scholars from around the world called out Chinese authorities for violating the International Health Regulations in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
Xinhua called the study “full of fear, rumor-mongering, racism, and xenophobia.”
The argument about using the term “Wuhan” or “Chinese virus” has been raised since January.
During the beginning stages of the outbreak, Chinese media in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other regions called the virus “Wuhan pneumonia,” because the disease first broke out in Wuhan.
On Feb. 13, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily criticized Taiwan for using the term to “stigmatize” China.