Sadiq Khan

SADIQ KHAN has slammed Donald Trump’s “Chinese virus” terminology for Covid-19, and urged Londoners to not fall in any divisive “trap”.

The London mayor on Thursday (19) said the US president’s nomenclature was “disgraceful”, adding that the Wuhan coronavirus was a “global virus”.

“Covid-19 is Covid-19,” Khan told the London Assembly, where fellow Labour member Unmesh Desai raised the subject.

“It is not a Chinese virus, and to use words like that are disgraceful [sic], and is the sort of language that leads to incitement and hatred towards people of Chinese origin,” Khan noted.

“We are a city that celebrates our diversity and we think it is a strength, not a weakness, and it’s really important that we don’t follow into the trap of some to use this virus as an excuse to denigrate, demean, and dehumanise people.”

The mayor warned that if people in London were “picked on, discriminated against, because of this virus, we act to stand with them in solidarity—and also the police will continue to have a zero-tolerance approach towards any form of hate crime”.

He said the need of the hour was “a global response to this global virus, coming together rather than using this as another excuse to divide communities and divide countries and divide nations and divide ethnicities”.

The issue emerged as a global debate, especially after a Washington Post photographer, Jabin Botsford, had recently tweeted a pic of Trump’s notes, in which “Corona” had been struck out and replaced with “Chinese”.

Trump, however, was intransigent. “It’s not racist at all. No, not at all,” he told journalists at the White House.

“It comes from China, that’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”

Trump had been furious over Chinese allegations that US soldiers had caused the outbreak during a military games event held in China last year.

“I have a great love for all the people from our country, but as you know, China tried to say at one point that—maybe they’ve stopped now — that it was caused by American soldiers,” he said. “That can’t happen. It’s not going to happen. Not as long as I’m president. It comes from China.”

Queried on his “Chinese virus” usage making Asian-Americans vulnerable to prejudice, Trump said: “No, not at all. Not at all. I think they probably would agree with it 100%. It comes from China.”

The White House, meanwhile, argued that epidemics in past had been named after geographic location of the outbreak’s origin, pointing to the Spanish flu and West Nile Virus.

It ignored Beijing’s grouse, and downplayed the debate as a “fake media outrage”.

Khan and Trump have had cold relations for long, with both taking online swipes at each other.

The mayor had recently described the US president, without taking his name, as a “less successful” businessman who “lost his dad’s money” and “doing less well”, in a comparison with Michael Bloomberg.

Before that, Trump had called Khan “incompetent”, “terrible” and a “stone cold loser” on Twitter.