Trump defends referring to coronavirus as 'the Chinese virus'

Wednesday, 18 Mar, 2020

Donald Trump is blaming China for COVID-19.

Trump, who has previously called the disease a "foreign virus", tweeted on Tuesday: "The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus".

Trump's own CDC director has similarly rejected the practice, calling it "absolutely wrong and inappropriate" to use labels like "Chinese coronavirus".

Health chiefs say only 12 new cases recorded on one day as tally falls.

The war of words reignited diplomatic tensions between the two countries, which have tussled over trade and other disputes since Trump took office.

"Our Asian-American communities - people YOU serve - are already suffering".

After declaring they had "basically" curbed the spread of the disease within China, where the virus first emerged, authorities are now anxious about an influx of infections from other countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic is deepening the rift between the USA and China, as the two are now engaged in a blame game over the cause and handling of the global crisis.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on Monday that in the phone call Yang told Pompeo that attempts to smear China's efforts to control the coronavirus "will not succeed" and that actions that harmed China's interests would be retaliated against. David Stilwell, the top USA diplomat for East Asia, delivered a very "stern representation" to China's ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Meanwhile, Beijing, who has been accused of covering up the initial outbreak, has allowed disinformation surrounding the virus to spread in recent days, with foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian perpetuating one conspiracy theory in tweeting last week that "it might be United States army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan". "The challenge of a large country like India with overcrowding is that some people will always slip the net, wherever you put it", said Dipanjan Roy, an Indian epidemiologist, who added that not putting harsher quarantines into effect even earlier may have cost the country. Be transparent! Make public your data! "We are very angry and strongly oppose it [the tweet]".

The unfounded accusation led US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to demand China stop spreading "disinformation" as it tried "to shift blame" for the outbreak.

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency called Trump's rhetoric "racist and xenophobic".