KEY POINTS

  • Since last week, Trump has made it a point to call COVID-19 the "China virus," emphasis on the word, "China"
  • During his press briefing Monday, Trump changed tones and said he would "protect" Asian-Americans from racism

President Donald Trump has surprisingly scaled back his harsh criticisms of China for unleashing COVID-19 -- which he’s repeatedly called the "China virus" since last week -- and Asian-Americans, especially Chinese.

Trump's stunning change of tone was evident in a Sunday tweet stating: "It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and all around the world. They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form. They are working closely with us to get rid of it. WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!"

Trump re-echoed that sentiment Monday when he opened the coronavirus task force briefing, where he not once said the words "China virus" and "Chinese virus" to continue his past attacks on China and the Chinese.

In his opening remarks, Trump restated the message of his tweet by saying Asian Americans aren't at fault for the spreading the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Asked by a reporter why he singled out the Asian-American community for not being at fault, Trump said the group might be facing bias.

"It seems that there could be a little bit of nasty language toward the Asian Americans in our country, and I don’t like that at all," noted Trump.

As expected, he didn't explain or talk about why he repeatedly used the phrase "Chinese virus" or "China virus" when referring to COVID-19. He previously repeatedly said the virus comes from China.

Trump's preference for calling COVID-19 the China virus is seen by some as an outright racist statement despite his denials.

"It’s not racist at all. No. Not at all," said Trump to reporters last week. "It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate."

Since last week, Trump has been heavily criticized for continuing to use the phrase, China virus, despite officials in his own administration that have said this phrase isn't appropriate and some GOP lawmakers asking Trump to stop using the term.

Over the past few weeks, multiple news outlets have reported incidents of Chinese and other Chinese-looking Asians being yelled at or harassed because of the coronavirus. The New York Times reported a young Chinese woman who moved to the U.S. five years ago had a middle-aged man spit at her as she waited to cross the street.

COVID-19 cases are soaring, with more than 200,000 confirmed globally since cases emerged in Wuhan late last year COVID-19 cases are soaring, with more than 200,000 confirmed globally since cases emerged in Wuhan late last year Photo: AFP / STR