Yes, to refer to the novel coronavirus as the "Chinese virus" is racist, inappropriate and irresponsible; and yes, it antagonizes the Chinese people who are still mourning their lost loved ones; and yes, we condemn such linkage.
But despite the repeated "blunder" by U.S. President Donald Trump in his tweets and at press conferences, we should also note that the deliberate reference is merely a public relations stunt to invoke confidence amid the sharpest stock market plunge in a century, put the responsibility for containing the virus in the country elsewhere, and secure a second term in the Oval Office.
Put yourself in his shoes: Trump was en route to re-election this year, there were no real challengers coming from the Democratic Party; unemployment was at a record low; the stock market was at a record high; he signed the phase-one deal with China, putting the two-year-old trade war on hold.
Everything looked great, until the coronavirus crisis broke out.
As his words confirm, the situation calls for desperate measures. The best strategy is to blame a "foreign virus," which might possibly unite people amid the shattered stock market, shift people's attention away from alleged insider trading scandals by some top U.S. officials, and put the blame for his ineptitude in preventing and controlling the outbreak in a faraway land.
Evidently, Trump's change of heart—using "Chinese virus" instead of coronavirus—is not intentionally meant to attack China, although it does. But let's face it, right now, China is the least of Trump's worries compared to a likely economic recession, the spread of the virus and a failure to secure a second term. Unfortunately, it seems that China has become part of his collateral damage.
But back in February, the president was singing a different tune. He recognized China's efforts in combating the virus and wished China success in dealing with the epidemic. It came at a time when the so-called "free press" in the West was quickly cashing in on China's misery by producing fake narratives against it.
Currently, the U.S. is deeply mired in the coronavirus outbreak and people are panicking because there seems to be no real action but only words coming from the White House, as financial aid and test kits are still in short supply. It falls on the president to forge solidarity and unity against this common enemy. It's high time we set aside our differences and biased views and tackle the greatest challenge facing the world today.
But for now, let's just assume that Trump has a very small vocabulary—a fourth-grade level as some people in the U.S. claim—and realize that the word coronavirus is simply too hard for him to pronounce.
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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