The Asian American journalist queried the president’s constant emphasis on being first in testing and was told to ‘ask China’
Donald Trump abruptly halted a press conference on Monday after being challenged by an Asian American reporter whom I have told: “Don’t ask me. Ask China. "
With the stars and stripes at his back, Trump held his first press briefing since 27 April in the White House rose garden, flanked by testing equipment and swabs and signs that proclaimed: “America leads the world in testing.”
But during a question and answer session, Weijia Jiang, White House correspondent of CBS News, asked why the president constantly emphasizes that the US is doing better than any other country when it comes to testing.
"Why does that matter?" she queried. "Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?"
Trump retorted: “Well, they are losing their lives everywhere in the world. Maybe that is a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question. When you ask China that question you may get a very unusual answer. ”
The president then called on another reporter, Kaitlan Collins of CNN, but she paused as Jiang interjected: "Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?"
The president replied: “I am not saying it specifically to anybody. I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that. ”
The CBS correspondent pointed out: “That is not a nasty question.”
Collins, at the microphone, then tried to ask her question, but Trump said he was now looking to someone at the back. As Collins repeatedly objected, the president turned on his heel and left the podium.
Trump has frequently been criticisied for adopting a particularly harsh or patronising tone at press conferences to women in general and women of colour in particular. Jiang was born in China but immigrated to America at the age of two.
Tara Setmayer, a political commentator, tweeted: “Another disgraceful, racist, temper tantrum by Trump b/c he was asked a pointed question by @weijia… Trump can’t handle smart, assertive women.”
Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California tweeted: “Dear @realDonaldTrump: Asian Americans are Americans. Some of us served on active duty in the U.S. military. Some are on the frontlines fighting this pandemic as paramedics and health care workers. Some are reporters like @weijia. Stop dividing our nation.”
Earlier at the briefing, Trump claimed that the US’s testing capacity is “unmatched and unrivalled anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close”. More than 9m tests have now been performed, he said, and where three weeks ago roughly 150,000 per day were done, the total is now 300,000 per day and will go up.
Trump said this week the US will pass 10m tests, nearly double the number of any country and more per capita than South Korea, the UK, France, Japan, Sweden, Finland and many others. But critics point out that South Korea implemented its testing much quicker, flattening the curve of cases so fewer tests were required.