Trump receives blowback over tweet, criticized as racist, blame-shifting
US President Donald Trump is receiving blowback after claiming on Tuesday that Asian Americans are angry at "what China has done" in the epidemic, a move criticized by many as racist and blame-shifting.
US Congresswoman Grace Meng from New York said that Asian Americans are in fact "very angry at" Trump.
"You use racism to disguise your lack of responsiveness and responsibility," Meng tweeted. "American lives of all backgrounds have been lost. Your words have led to increased discrimination against Asian Americans which will outlast the coronavirus."
Andrew Yang, a former Democratic presidential contender, tweeted that they are angry that people are dying and the United States is leading in coronavirus cases and deaths "due to a chaotic and uncoordinated response."
According to a count by Johns Hopkins University, more than 1.3 million people in the United States have infected with the coronavirus, or COVID-19, with over 82,000 deaths. Both numbers are far higher than those in any other country or region.
The much-criticized tweet was posted a day after Trump stirred controversy by telling an Asian American reporter to "ask China" when pressed on why he continues to bring up the US coronavirus testing capacity.
"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?" CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang asked Trump during a press conference in the Rose Garden.
"Don't ask me, ask China that question," Trump responded. "They're losing their lives everywhere in the world and maybe that's a question you should ask China."
Jiang, a Chinese-born American citizen, challenged the response.
"Sir, why are you saying that to me specifically?" she asked.
Trump said he is not saying it "specifically to anybody" but saying it to "anybody who would ask a nasty question like that," before leaving the press conference abruptly.
US Congressman Ted Lieu slammed the president's remarks on Monday.
"Asian Americans are Americans. Some of us served on active duty in the US military. Some are on the frontlines fighting this pandemic as paramedics and health care workers," Lieu tweeted. "Stop dividing our nation."
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the United States, Federal law enforcement has reportedly warned of an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
"The FBI assesses hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease ... endangering Asian American communities," according to an FBI analysis obtained by ABC News.
Eugene Gu, who is helping to treat coronavirus patients, tweeted on Tuesday that Trump "doesn't speak for Asian Americans like me nor millions of others in this country who have been horrified by his cruel and blatant racism."
"Chinese Americans, like many Americans of every other race, are far more angry at Trump for botching the response to the coronavirus pandemic," Gu wrote. "Scapegoating Asian Americans and dismissing a Chinese American reporter by telling her to go "ask China" is a shameful attack on us all."
The recent incidents occurred against the backdrop that some Trump administration officials are aggressively pushing a debunked conspiracy theory that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab, despite wide scientific consensus that the virus was not man-made or genetically modified.
Shooting down the conspiracy theory, Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told National Geographic last week that the best evidence shows the coronavirus behind the pandemic was not made in a lab.
"If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, (the scientific evidence) is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated," Fauci said.
Based on the scientific evidence, the key member of the White House coronavirus task force does not entertain an alternate theory either that someone found the coronavirus in the wild, brought it to a lab, and then it accidentally escaped.
Eric Ward, executive director at the Western States Center, a civil rights organization, said in a statement that the White House "has made a sport of recklessly demonizing China and spreading conspiracy theories about the pandemic's origin."
"The predicable result is that anti-Asian hate is boiling over in the form of online and verbal harassment and hate crimes," Ward added.