President Donald Trump is being sued by a Chinese American civil rights group over his use of terms such as “China virus” to describe the novel coronavirus, with the group alleging the former president fuelled anti-Asian hate crime, a report by TMZ has said.
During his term in office and upon leaving the White House, the former president frequently referred to the novel coronavirus disease as the “China virus” the “Wuhan virus” and “Kung Flu”, and has defended his use of the terms when confronted.
According to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ, the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition (CACRC) is suing Mr Trump for roughly $22.9m (£16m), alleging defamation and infliction of emotional distress for his continued use of such phrases.
The Independent has contacted the Office of Donald Trump for comment regarding the reported lawsuit and the accusations.
Critics have said that the use of such targeted language inflamed discrimination against the Asian American community and alleged it has contributed to the recent rise in violence against Asian Americans.
A study based on police department statistics across major US cities in March revealed there had been a nearly 150 per cent surge in reports of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 following the first reported outbreak of the pandemic in Wuhan, China.
According to the outlet, the CACRC claims in the lawsuit that Mr Trump shouldn’t have used the term because it’s not entirely clear where the virus actually originated.
The former president faced renewed backlash for his attitude towards the virus following a mass shooting in Atlanta in the same month, during which a 21-year-old man allegedly killed eight people, many of them women of Asian descent, across three spas in Georgia.
The former president defended his use of the language on a number of occasions saying he uses the term because the disease “comes from China”. “It’s not racist at all. It comes from China. I want to be accurate,” Mr Trump said in March last year.