Former White House national security adviser Susan Rice rebuked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tuesday for referring to the novel coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
“It’s shameful. I mean, for the United States to be race-baiting,” Rice said Tuesday, saying Pompeo’s use of the name was intended to “stigmatize people of Asian descent.”
“It’s certainly not the way the leadership of the United States, the secretary of State, the president of the United States, ought to be behaving in the best of times — but certainly not in a crisis,” Rice added. “The reality is that viruses can arise in any corner of the globe, then spread to any corner of the globe.”
President Trump, who has also referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” has dismissed claims the term is racist, saying it merely references what is believed to be the virus’s point of origin. It is believed to trace back to a wet market in Wuhan, China.
The FBI has warned against tying the virus to Asian Americans, saying in a recent report that “hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease … endangering Asian American communities.”
“The FBI makes this assessment based on the assumption that a portion of the US public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations,” the report added.
World Health Organization (WHO) officials have also advised against associating the pandemic with a specific nation, with Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s Emergencies Program, saying in mid-March that “viruses know no borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity, the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank.”
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