President Trump is facing a backlash over his new nickname for the coronavirus—but he insists there's nothing wrong with calling it the "Chinese Virus." Trump first used the term in a tweet Monday, angering officials in China and raising concerns about discrimination against Asian-Americans, the New York Times reports. On Wednesday, he defended the term when asked about anti-Asian discrimination and CBS correspondent Weijia Jiang's account that a White House official called COVID-19 the "kung flu." Calling the coronavirus Chinese is "not racist at all," the president said. "It comes from China, that’s why." A day earlier, Trump said he was calling the virus "Chinese" to counter claims in China that the virus was spread by American soldiers.
The coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China, but the World Health Organization issued guidance in 2015 urging authorities to name diseases in a way that avoids "unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies, and people." Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who has aired the theory that the virus was manufactured in a Chinese bioweapons lab, said earlier this week that anyone who complains about terms like "Chinese coronavirus" is a "politically correct fool," Politico reports. Administration officials including Health and Human Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, however, have declined to adopt the president's language. "Ethnicity is not what causes the novel coronavirus," Azar said in congressional testimony. (Scientists have verified that COVID-19 wasn't created in a lab.)