Former President Donald Trump is reportedly being sued for his repeated use of “China virus” — among other phrases — in reference to COVID-19 while he was still in office.
Anti-China rhetoric: Blaming China for “unleashing” the coronavirus, Trump routinely used terms such as “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus” and “Kung Flu” during his term, arguing that it is “not racist” to refer to the pathogen’s geographic origin.
- Trump accused China of withholding vital information about the coronavirus, a claim corroborated by U.S. intelligence reports of officials in Wuhan keeping the threat under wraps for weeks.
- Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor regarded as the “Wuhan whistleblower” — and who subsequently died from COVID-19 himself — was summoned to a police station for “spreading rumors online” and was forced to admit “illegal behavior.”
- A group of international scientists previously shot down rumors of COVID-19 originating in a Wuhan laboratory, but a new group recently published a letter stating that “theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable.”
- In a tweet last March, Trump called for the protection of Asian Americans — saying COVID-19 “is NOT their fault in any way, shape or form” — but continued to use controversial terms anyway, which were parroted by other Republican politicians.
- The World Health Organization has advised against attaching locations or ethnicity to COVID-19, saying the official name was “deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization.”
Who’s suing: Trump is reportedly being sued by the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition (CACRC) for defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
- The organization claims that Trump’s use of those terms contributed to the surge of violence against Chinese and other Asian Americans, according to TMZ, which obtained a copy of the suit.
- They also said the former president should not have used “Chinese virus,” since “it’s not entirely clear where the virus actually originated,” TMZ noted.
- The CACRC wants Trump to give every Asian American $1 for an estimated total of $22.9 million, which will be used to build a museum showcasing the history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the U.S.
Trump, who has launched his own communications platform, has not responded to the news of the suit.