President Trump has repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” despite pushback from the media.
However, the president signaled a willingness to back away from the terminology at a Thursday briefing if doing so secures cooperation from China.
“It comes from China”
“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,” Trump noted.
Still, the president went on to say that he doesn’t “have to say it if they feel so strongly about it,” adding, “we’ll see.” Trump also said that he had a telephone call scheduled later that evening with China’s President Xi Jinping.
In the past, Trump has insisted on referring to the novel coronavirus as the Chinese virus in response to conspiracy theories pushed by some Chinese officials claiming that it originated with the U.S. government.
“China was putting out information that was false that our military gave this to them, that was false,” Trump argued during a March 17 press conference. “I think saying our military gave it to them creates a stigma.”
“I have to call it where it came from,” the president had said earlier in the briefing, going on to add, “I think it’s a very accurate term.”
Call with Chinese leader
The call with President Xi appears have gone well, as Trump spoke of it in glowing terms shortly after midnight on Friday.
“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China,” he tweeted. “Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”
That communication was part of a larger video conference summit taking place between heads of the world’s 20 biggest economies, a group known collectively as the G-20.
“The G-20 is committed to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic,” read a press release put out by the group. “We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat.”
“We commit to take all necessary health measures and seek to ensure adequate financing to contain the pandemic and protect people, especially the most vulnerable.”