President Donald Trump is receiving backlash for claiming that Asian Americans are angry at China for its actions during the pandemic, a day after he walked out of a press conference in which he told an Asian American reporter to “ask China” in response to her question.
Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to claim Asian Americans are angry at “what China has done” to the US and the rest of the world, adding that Chinese Americans are among the most angry.
“Asian Americans are VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World,” Trump wrote. “Chinese Americans are the most angry of all. I don’t blame them!”
The remarks prompted several Asian Americans to speak out including Rep. Grace Meng, (D-N.Y.), who accused the president of using his “racist” rhetoric to distract from his own mishandling of the virus. And many others pointed out that the president does not speak for the racial group.
Meng previously told NBC Asian America that some GOP officials have opted to use China or Asian Americans as scapegoats “versus actually dealing with the problem at hand.”
The controversy comes after a press conference Monday during which CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang pressed Trump on why he continues to bring up the U.S. coronavirus testing capacity. While the president said that the US has “greatest capacity,” the country leads in raw testing numbers but lags behind several countries including Iceland and Italy in testing per capita.
“Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?” Jiang asked Trump.
In response, the president said, “They’re losing their lives everywhere in the world and maybe that’s a question you should ask China.”
He then walked out of the conference after CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins attempted to allow Jiang to follow up.
“Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” Jiang said.
While Trump attempted to move on to PBS Newshour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, the correspondent gave the floor back to Collins, prompting him to abruptly walk out.
Many accused Trump of once again conflating Asian Americans with China, putting the racial group in harm’s way. The Asian American community has experienced an ongoing rise in anti-Asian sentiment and hate attacks since the pandemic’s start.
The recent incidents occurred against the backdrop of a campaign strategy from GOP candidates to aggressively attack Beijing and tie Democratic opponents to the country. A 57-page memo disseminated by The National Republican Senatorial Committee urged candidates to accuse Democrats on being “soft on China” and offering that the GOP would conversely sanction the country.
“China caused this pandemic by covering it up, lying, and hoarding the world’s supply of medical equipment,” the memo reads, in part.
However, Trump himself has praised China for the lessons it’s gathered from the virus.
“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China,” he wrote in a previous tweet. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”
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