The European bureau chief of China’s state-run publication China Daily has called President Trump a “racist a**hole” for claiming China “must have the most” deaths from the global coronavirus pandemic.
“We don’t have the most-in-the-world deaths — the most in the world has to be China,” Trump said during Friday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. “It’s a massive country. It’s gone through a tremendous problem with this, a tremendous problem. And they must have the most.”
China Daily’s Chen Weihua, an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, responded by tweeting that Trump’s suggestion was “coldblooded.” He added in a later tweet that “Trump is like a mad dog with rabies biting everyone, only to divert attention from his failures,” before tweeting that it was “irresponsible” and “immoral” for Trump to suggest that the virus could have come from a Wuhan lab. He also floated a theory pushed as Chinese propaganda that a U.S. military athlete brought the disease to China.
In 2018, U.S. officials flagged the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the potential starting point of a “future emerging coronavirus outbreak,” citing the lack of safety protocols applied to the Institute’s research on “SARS-like coronaviruses in bats.”
While there is no documented evidence that China has more coronavirus deaths than the U.S., reports have detailed how China covered up the initial coronavirus outbreak, with the Chinese Communist Party recently restricting research into the pandemic’s origins and censoring reports of thousands of asymptomatic cases. Radio Free Asia reported in March that Wuhan residents were dismissing the government’s reported death counts, anecdotally referencing steep increases in funerals and cremations to estimate at least 40,000 deaths during the city’s lockdown.
Chen Weihua has been outspoken on Twitter about what he claims is the “racist” U.S. response to the pandemic, echoing a tactic used by other Chinese media outlets to suggest any scrutiny of China’s handling of the coronavirus is xenophobic.