CAPAC Blasts White House Use of ‘China Virus’

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Signs used in rally against racism in San Francisco Chinatown in February. (ABC7)

WASHINGTON – On Aug. 20, leaders of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) – Chair Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), First Vice Chair Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Second Vice Chair Mark Takano (D-Riverside) and Whip Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) – issued the following joint statement in response to an official White House document shared with congressional offices entitled “How President Trump Uses the Defense Production Act to Protect Americans from the China Virus.”

CAPAC members have repeatedly denounced President Trump’s use of the terms “China virus,” “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus,” “China plague,” and “kung flu” due to the stigma they cause, which has already resulted in more than 2,500 anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents in recent months.

“We are appalled by the gross misuse of official White House communications to stoke xenophobia at a time when Asian Americans are experiencing an alarming spike in anti-Asian bigotry related to the coronavirus pandemic. Although we are not surprised by Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric, the fact that he is now using official White House documents containing the presidential seal to codify racism and discrimination is reprehensible.

“The official name of the virus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2, or more simply, the coronavirus. This is the term that any official document coming from the White House and federal agencies should use, and it is outrageous that the Trump Administration has intentionally chosen to use offensive terminology instead.

“Stoking xenophobia and stigma against Asian Americans – who have already experienced more than 2,500 hate crimes and incidents in recent months – does nothing to keep Americans healthy or to save lives. Instead, it promotes stigma and spreads misinformation that puts innocent lives in danger and ultimately makes is harder to contain the virus.

“This is why health experts, including the president’s own CDC, have warned not to associate the coronavirus with a specific country or ethnicity and to only use its official name. And even the president’s FBI issued a warning that ‘hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States’ because segments of the U.S. public ‘will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations.’

“Despite these warnings, Donald Trump has continued to invoke racial slurs in order to deflect blame for his failed response to a pandemic that has left over 170,000 Americans dead with no end in sight. And despite briefly backing away from the term ‘China virus’ in response to outrage from the Asian American community, Trump has since doubled down on this hateful rhetoric as cases continue to surge across our nation.

“The fact that the president’s repulsive language is now being used in bona fide White House documents is unacceptable. We urge the administration to immediately remove these terms from all official communication shared with Congress and the American public.”

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