‘Chinese virus’? Nah, Trump doesn’t think that’s a racist thing to say

United States President Donald Trump says his use of the term ‘Chinese virus’ to describe the novel coronavirus isn’t racist.

US President Donald Trump has been referring to COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese virus’.

“It’s not racist at all,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “Because it comes from China. It’s not racist at all, no, not at all.”

He later criticised the Chinese government for allegedly withholding information on the outbreak that began in the country’s Hubei province late last year. “I think they could have given us a lot earlier notice, absolutely,” Trump said.

“The US should redress its mistake and stop baseless attacks against China.”

— Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang

With the coronavirus spreading from China into the US and around the world, both nations are trading tit-for-tat claims about its origins.

The tense back-and-forth over what to call the virus is the latest chapter in a broader clash between the world’s two largest economies that ranges from trade and military competition to network equipment made by Huawei Technologies Co.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press briefing on Tuesday that a Trump tweet referring to the ‘Chinese virus’ smeared Beijing, state broadcaster CCTV reported. “We are very angry and strongly oppose it,” he said, “The US should redress its mistake and stop baseless attacks against China.”

Another Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, earlier pushed a conspiracy theory the US Army may have had a role in spreading the virus. Trump denied that.