Study links Trump tweet to a rise in anti-Asian racism 1 year ago

Study links Trump tweet to a rise in anti-Asian racism

Words have consequences

A tweet posted by Donald Trump in March 2020 has been linked to a rise in online anti-Asian racism, according to a recent study.


Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, former president Trump has insisted on referring to Covid-19 as the "Chinese / China virus" or the "kung flu".

Many have suspected these words of fanning the flames of anti-Asian racism, and now researchers have attempted to establish a link.

Academics from the University of California San Francisco set out to examine "the extent to which the phrases, 'COVID-19' and 'Chinese virus' were associated with anti-Asian sentiments".


To make this judgement, they collated tweets from the period March 9th to March 23rd, 2020, broadly corresponding to the week before and after Trump first tweeted the incendiary phrase "Chinese virus".

All in all, nearly 700,000 tweets containing around 1.3 million hashtags were examined. The results were alarming.

  • The number of tweets referring to Covid-19 rose by 379 percent
  • The number of tweets including the hashtag "Chinese virus" rose by over 8,000 percent
  • While one fifth of Covid-19 tweets contained anti-Asian sentiments, over half of the tweets referring to a "Chinese virus" were sinophobic in nature

Sinophobia is described as "a fear or dislike of China, Chinese people, their language or culture".


The study's publication comes just days after a deadly shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, in which six of the eight victims were Asian women.

The rise in anti-Asian racism is certainly not limited to the United States.

Anti-Asian hate crime has increased by a staggering 300 percent in the UK since coronavirus first began to spread.

Between April and June 2020, reported hate crimes against Asians increased from 261 per month to 395.


One particular attack committed in February 2020 gained widespread media attention.

Jonathan Mok was walking alone in central London when he was set upon by a gang of youths who repeatedly kicked and punched him in a racially-aggravated assault.

He suffered a broken nose and fractured cheekbone, and was met with a barrage of racist insults including "I don't want your coronavirus in my country".