Donald Trump
Donald TrumpReuters

As the number of coronavirus cases in the US crossed the 5M mark, it created a point of contention between US President Donald and all he sees against himself.

Trump is upset because he says, that they (broadly, media and Democrats), do not see the great work his administration is doing in handling the coronavirus pandemic, which he believes China is responsible for, and just want to demean his administration.

He put a tweet saying, "More Testing, which is a good thing (we have the most in the world), equals more Cases, which is Fake News Gold. They use Cases to demean the incredible job being done by the great men & women of the U.S. fighting the China Plague!"

trump coronavirus

He highlighted the world "Chinese Plague" in order to emphasize his point that the virus is Chinese, which is wholly a racist thing to say, netizens have pointed out.

The term "China Plague" soon started to trend on Twitter where people denounced Trump for calling the virus Chinese.

Not the first time

However, this is not the first time Trump has used a racist term in the context of the virus.

Since the outbreak, Trump has called the virus by names- "Chinese Virus," "Wuhan virus," and "Kung flu", etc. 

And he does this unapologetically. When asked by a reporter if calling the pathogen "Chinese Virus" isn't a racist thing do so, he said he wants to be accurate and that Asian American would 100 percent agree.

In another incident, he made the reporter repeat the term "Kung flu," before wondering out loud where the virus came from.

A deliberate act to wedge divide

Trump's selection of the word is not innocuous. He is deliberate when he says the words Chinese Virus. This was proven when a reporter saw his speech notes in which he had crossed the word corona and had replaced it with Chinese.

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he points towards China on a chart showing daily mortality cases during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2020.Reuters

In fact, according to database website factbase, Trump has used the term Chinese Virus for 203 times since January.

One can safely say that his calling the virus China Virus or Wuhan Virus is to channel the hate emanating from widespread criticism of his handling of the pandemic be directed towards, broadly, against Asian Americans and specifically, towards Chinese Americans.

He has been doing it, to a larger extent, successfully. His provocative usage of the term has wielded the divide that can be seen by the rising numbers of hate crimes against Asian American in the US.

A rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans

A non-profit organization ADL, which keeps the data of hate crimes happening in the US says that since January, there has been an exponential rise in the number of hate crime cases against Asian Americans. Various reports of Asian people being verbally and physically assaulted are reported in greater numbers.

News reports of people asking Asian descent to go back to their country and that they are the source of the viral disease have been documented and found connected with Trump's rhetoric on the virus.

Words matter

Language experts say that words matter and carry exponential weight if it comes out from influential people like politicians and subject experts.

And, when Trump ignores World Health Organisation (WHO) and scientific community's strict guidelines on classifying any disease or pathogens, according to which the identification shouldn't be based on geographic location, culture, population, or anything that incite fear, then it becomes more clear that the act is intentional and directed towards creating division.

And as the Doppler Effect, Trump calling coronavirus Chinese Virus, trying to associate the pathogen with a region or the lifestyle of any specific community, in order to divide and save his back, is rising.

But he is also facing the pushback from other leaders and scientific community calling out his racist act.


The effect of it is that even though the term "China Virus" has been trending today, a majority of the Twitter users criticised Trump for pushing xenophobic terms.