Trump brushes off 'kung-flu' remark and claims Asian Americans would agree with calling it the 'Chinese coronavirus'

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Trump brushes off 'kung-flu' remark and claims Asian Americans would agree with calling it the 'Chinese coronavirus'

President Donald Trump speaks in an address to the nation from the Oval Office at the White House about the coronavirus Wednesday, March, 11, 2020, in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

  • President Donald Trump said he did not believe the term "kung-flu" and other discriminatory phrases would put Asian Americans at risk of xenophobic attacks amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • The disparaging term was privately used by a White House official to CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang, a Chinese American, on Tuesday morning.
  • "I wonder who said that," Trump said to reporters at the White House on Wednesday. "You know who said that? Say the term again."
  • Trump said he did not believe Asian Americans would be negatively affected by the use of phrase, given his thoughts on the coronavirus's origins in China.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump said he did not believe the term "kung-flu" and other discriminatory phrases would put Asian Americans at risk of xenophobic attacks amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The disparaging term was privately used by a White House official to CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang, a Chinese American, on Tuesday morning.

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"Makes me wonder what they're calling it behind my back," Jiang said in a tweet.

Asked if he believed that Asian Americans could be subjected to increased racist attacks because of similar terms, Trump pressed for more details.

"I wonder who said that," Trump said to a reporter at the White House on Wednesday. "You know who said that? Say the term again."

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After the reporter repeated the phrase, it was still not clear if Trump understood the belittling implication and the relationship it has with Asians.

Trump said he did not believe Asian Americans would be negatively affected by the use of phrase, which he claims has to do with coronavirus's origins in China. Trump and numerous Republican lawmakers have described the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus," based on the initial cases in the country, prompting critics - including the Chinese government - to urge them not to use the term.

"No, not at all," Trump said. "I think they'd probably would agree with it 100%. It comes from China. There's nothing not to agree on."

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Robert Redfield testified in a congressional hearing earlier in March that he agreed it was inappropriate to describe the virus as the "Chinese coronavirus," because it had spread across the world.

"Public health emergencies ... are stressful times for people and communities," the CDC says on its website. "Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things."

"For example, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease," the CDC website said.

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Several hate crimes and acts of discriminatory behavior against Asian Americans were documented across the US in recent weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. An Asian man who declined to be identified was walking with his 10-year-old son in New York on Saturday, when he alleged 44-year-old Raoul Ramos screamed at him for not wearing a mask.

"The guy walked past us. That triggered him. He was screaming at us and said, 'Where the f--k is your mask," the man said to the New York Post.

"You f-----g Chinese," Ramos said, according to The Post's police sources.

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Ramos, who is accused of hitting the Asian man in the head before fleeing, was arrested.

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