President Trump 2020 SOTU

White House

President Trump delivering his 2020 state of the union address.

Read the original story in Chinese at Sing Tao Daily
Translated and condensed by Rong Xiaoqing

President Trump calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” has triggered a reaction across the Chinese community. While tens of thousands have signed a petition on to demand an apology from the President, many Chinese Trump supporters still stand firmly on his side. But even in this group of loyal fans to the president, fierce debates are taking place and some are reconsidering their support for Trump in the November presidential election.

Even during the peak of the trade war between the U.S. and China, many Chinese Trump supporters remained loyal to the president. This time, while Trump’s “Chinese virus” comment has caused a tsunami-like outcry in the Chinese community, many Trump supporters haven’t blinked.

“The president said it only casually,” said Jack Jia, co-founder of Chinese Trump Supporters’ Coalition, an ad hoc group on the social messaging platform WeChat. “And by using ‘Chinese,’ he meant China, not Chinese Americans. Chinese Americans shouldn’t jump in the mud.”

With the pandemic caused by coronavirus getting worse and the U.S. declaring emergency status, it is an especially bad time for Chinese Americans to organize petitions against the president, Jia argues. “This will draw the ire from the mainstream society and other ethnic communities, and lead them to equal Chinese Americans and China. This is not in our interest.”

Debates about Trump’s use of the term prompted charged debates in several Chinese Trump supporters groups on WeChat. Critics said Trump was using those words only to distract people from his own role in handling the pandemic, and some said they won’t vote for him now.

“I indeed think the president did quite well in controlling the virus. He quickly launched some relief programs,” said Harry Gu, a tourism agency employee. “But the ‘Chinese virus’ remark will fan the fear among mainstream Americans, trigger their resentment against Chinese, and hurt the interests of Chinese Americans.”   

Gu, who voted for Trump in 2016, said this incident may change his mind in this upcoming presidential election.