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President Trump said at a briefing Thursday he may stop referring to coronavirus as “Chinese virus” if it bothered the Chinese community.
Although he said he would consider nixing the term, he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.
Trump began calling COVID-19 “Chinese Virus” soon after rumors began circulating among Chinese officials that coronavirus found its origin in the U.S. Army, and he rejected objections from the media that the term might be “racist.” However, he said that if China continues to protest the name he might stop using it.
“If you look at Ebola, right, if you look at Lyme in Connecticut, you look at all these different horrible diseases, they seem to come with a name with a location,” he said. “I don’t have to say it if they feel so strongly about it, we’ll see.”
President Trump told reporters that he had a call scheduled with Chinese leader Xi Jinping Thursday night, which he said would be a “fruitful call.”
Trump banned travel from China in late January to slow the spread of the virus. But on Thursday, the U.S. surpassed China in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases– 82,404.
On Wednesday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Twitter the world “explicitly opposes linking #COVID19 with any specific country or region. It is not the time to blame one another with terms like ‘Chinese Virus.'”
Zhao said it was the U.S. that started the argument over the origins of the virus. “Shouting ‘Chinese virus’ or ‘Wuhan virus’ will not help with their own or international efforts against #COVID19. U.S. should keep their own house in order, & contribute to global fight against the virus,” Zhao added.
But on March 12, Zhao had touted the U.S. Army conspiracy.
“It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” he tweeted.