President Donald Trump was pressed for the second straight day on why he is calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” amid instances of bigotry against Asian Americans.
After consulting with medical experts, and receiving guidance from the World Health Organization, CNN has determined that that name is both inaccurate and is considered stigmatizing.
Trump claimed that he is using the term because China tried to blame the virus on US soldiers.
” ‘Cause it comes from China. It’s not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that’s why. I want to be accurate,” Trump said on Wednesday.
Pressed again, he said: “I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know China tried to say at one point … that it was caused by American soldiers. That can’t happen. It’s not gonna happen, not as long as I’m President. It comes from China.”
He also denied that it was a racist term to use.
CNN previously reported that a prominent Chinese official has promoted a conspiracy theory that the US military could have brought the novel coronavirus to China – and it did not originate in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Parts of Chinese social media, and even the country’s government, appear to have launched a concerted campaign to question the origin of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 170,000 people globally as of Tuesday midday, according to CNN’s case tracker.
The first reported cases of the virus were in Wuhan, and scenes from the city on lockdown shocked the world. The lockdown gave an early indication for how seriously global authorities would need to combat the fast-spreading virus.
“Viruses know no borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity or the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization health emergencies program. “It’s really important that we be careful in the language we use.”
Ryan added that this is “a time for solidarity. This is a time for facts. This is a time to move forward together.”
On Tuesday, the President had similarly defended his use of the term “China virus.”
“I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody,” Trump said during a White House press briefing.
“China was putting out information, which was false, that our military gave this to them. That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said I had to call it where it came from. It did come from China. So, I think it’s a very accurate term,” he said.
The President also pushed back at suggestions that using the term creates a stigma.
“I don’t think so. I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma,” Trump said.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.