President Donald Trump is receiving backlash for saying that Asian Americans are angry at China for its handling of the pandemic, a day after he walked out of a news conference after telling an Asian American reporter to “ask China” in response to a question.
On Tuesday, Trump claimed that Chinese Americans are even more upset at China.
“Asian Americans are VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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 “racist” rhetoric to distract from his own mishandling of the virus. And many others pointed out that the president does not speak for Asian Americans.
Meng, in recent weeks, has accused some GOP officials, including the president, of using China or Asian Americans as scapegoats “versus actually dealing with the problem at hand.”
At the news conference Monday, 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 U.S. has the “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.”
CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins tried to allow Jiang to follow up.
“Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” Jiang said.
Trump then attempted to move on to PBS Newshour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, but Alcindor gave the floor back to Collins, prompting the president to abruptly end the news conference.
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 a 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 China. A 57-page memo disseminated by the National Republican Senatorial Committee urged candidates to accuse Democrats of being “soft on China” and say that the GOP would instead 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 how it has handled 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!"