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US President Donald Trump. Image Credit: AFP

Donald Trump called the coronavirus 'Kung Flu' and 'the Chinese virus' during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20 and Twitter users, especially Asian Americans, are calling him out for racism.

The US President blamed China for the global spread of coronavirus, while terming the disease ‘Kung Flu’.

Trump, addressing his first election rally on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the US early this year, said that the COVID-19 is a disease and has many names.

“I can name – Kung flu. I can name 19 different versions of names. Many calls it a virus, which it is. Many calls it a flu. What difference. I think we have 19 or 20 versions of the name," he said.

Soon after, ‘Kung Flu’ started trending on Twitter. Many users bashed Trump for using the term, calling it racist.

Posting updates on Trump’s address, Twitter user @PhilipRucker wrote: “Trump tells his rally crowd there are ‘many’ names for COVID-19. Then he utters one, ‘Kung Flu’, which many people consider racist.”

In a consecutive tweet, @PhilipRucker wrote: “To be clear, calling COVID-19 ‘Kung Flu’ is racist, period.”

Normalises racism

Ted W. Lieu, @tedlieu, an American politician serving as the US Representative for California's 33rd congressional district since 2015, took to his Twitter account to express his thoughts on the issue: “Dear @realDonaldTrump & @GOP: Asian Americans make up 11 per cent of the electorate in Nevada; 5.5 per cent in Texas and 4.7 per cent in Georgia, enough to be the margin of victory. Keep saying racist […] like Kung Flu. Your racism is one reason Asian Americans now trend towards Democrats. #TrumpRally”

American actor, Chris Evans, @ChrisEvans, was left “speechless”: “Did the president of the United States just say ‘Kung flu’ at his rally? He made a racist joke. He made. A racist. Joke. To applause. I’m speechless.”

Tweep @eugenegu posted about how such actions could fuel discrimination against Asian Americans in the US: “When the President of the United States uses racist terms like Kung Flu, Chinese Virus, or China Plague, my biggest fear as an Asian American is that it normalises racism against us and there’s no way for us to fight it. We have very little representation in government and media.”

In the past, Trump administration officials have used similar terms.

Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, are among those who added a geographical marker to the coronavirus.

Pompeo has called the virus the “Wuhan coronavirus”, referring to the Chinese city where the outbreak started, and McCarthy has used the term “Chinese coronavirus”.