The Chinese government and associated state media have reacted angrily to President Donald Trump’s classification of the COVID-19 coronavirus strain as a “Chinese virus,” warning such comments will encourage racism and conspiracy theories.
Trump tweeted Monday that the U.S. economy would weather the storm of what he called the “Chinese Virus.” The president and others have come under fire for attributing the sickness to China.
The outbreak began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread worldwide. There have now been more infections and deaths outside of China than inside the country, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Tuesday that the president should address America’s outbreak before casting aspersions on China, according to The South China Morning Post.
“Some politicians in the U.S. associated the coronavirus with China, and smeared China,” Geng said. “China expresses its strong anger and opposition to that. We call on the U.S. to stop finger pointing at China. The utmost priority is for the international community to cooperate on fighting the virus.”
“The U.S. should focus on its top priority, and play a constructive role in international cooperation on health security,” Geng said, describing China-blaming as a “despicable practice,” according to the Guardian.
State-backed media also issued condemnation of the president’s remarks. An editorial published Tuesday by the People’s Daily online—the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee—said it should “go without saying that his tweet was wrong, as it equates the Chinese people with a disease and makes China a punching bag.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have warned of the danger of racial discrimination amid the outbreak, but Trump and other right-wing figures have not heeded the warnings.
People’s Daily said Trump’s remarks “triggered many ugly comments full of racism and conspiracy,” plus criticism from inside the U.S.
“As China has stated on many occasions, it is irresponsible to associate the coronavirus with the Chinese people,” it added. “This is a time for all peoples to work together to fight a common enemy, which means there is no room for racism.”
World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Hygiene advice
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
- Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
- Do not reuse single-use masks.
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