President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he doesn't think calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" - or the "kung-flu", as one administration official reportedly called it - puts Asian Americans at risk of retaliation despite growing reports they are facing virus-related discrimination. "Our military did not give it to anybody", the U.S. president further added.
China Institute of International Studies research fellow Yang Xiyu said the war of words could continue to escalate. "So, I think it's a very accurate term", he said.
The US Secretary of State suggested China is attempting to distract the world from shortcomings in its initial response, saying an "after action" report would corroborate his claim, indicating that the tensions are unlikely to end when the pandemic is over.
However, she has repeatedly referred to another virus that originated in Africa - Ebola Virus - by the name of the river and region where it was found. Its starting point was Chinese city Wuhan, where in November of 2019, it started to spread.
Reacting strongly to it, Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the ministry noted, "Recently, some politicians in the United States have linked the new coronavirus to China, which is the stigmatization of China".
" 'Cause it comes from China".
"It might be USA army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan".
President Trump Face Backlash As He Calls Coronavirus "Chinese Virus"
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Trump should take care of his own matters first, news reports said. Make public your data! "We are very angry and strongly oppose it [the tweet]".
More than 170,000 coronavirus cases have been recorded worldwide, with more than 80,000 in China. Be transparent! Make public your data!
Ironically, just as he reinforced conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus, Zhao also tweeted perhaps the best advice for all government officials in all countries, quoting a Chinese saying: "Turn inward (and) examine yourself when you encounter difficulties".
As of Tuesday, Hubei had seen no newly confirmed COVID-19 cases for 13 consecutive days in its 16 cities and prefectures outside Wuhan. "USA owe us an explanation", Zhao wrote.
On Tuesday, the President had similarly defended his use of the term "China virus". They have referred to the virus as the "Wuhan virus" or the "Chinese virus" on multiple occasions, disregarding World Health Organization terminology that avoids identifying it by geography.
However, on Monday, Pompeo issued "strong USA objections" in a phone call with top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi against spreading "outlandish rumours" about the coronavirus pandemic.
The biggest threat now is travelers bringing back the contagion from where it has spread overseas, officials warn, sparking stringent new restrictions for the 20,000 people who fly into China on an average day.