Coronavirus

What did Biden say about racism, China and covid-19?

Biden’s latest directive targets racism against Asian Americans in the US that has seen a spike largely owing to the link between China and covid-19.

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What did Biden say about racism, China and covid-19?
KEVIN LAMARQUE REUTERS

On Tuesday President Joe Biden signed an executive order tackling xenophobia and racism within federal agencies and in the US generally, after a rise in hate crimes and harassment due to the supposed origins of the coronavirus at a live animal market in the city of Wuhan, China, reports ABC.

The order is just one of several executive actions Biden has signed to start the fight against systemic racism in the US. Summer 2020 revealed deep racial tensions and unrest, triggered by the murder of George Floyd and other African Americans at the hands of the police, which sparked the most widespread race riots in the US and the world since the 1960’s civil rights movement.

What did Biden say about racism, China and covid-19?

“Today, I'm directing federal agencies to combat the resurgence of xenophobia, particularly against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, that we've seen skyrocket during this pandemic.” Biden said Tuesday in an address at the White House.

"I've asked the Department of Justice to strengthen its partnership with the Asian American Pacific Islander community to prevent those hate crimes. I've also asked the Department of Health and Human Services to put out best practices for combatting xenophobia in our national response to COVID."

Why has Biden signed an order tackling attitudes towards Asian Americans?

A United Nations report released in October revealed that hate crimes against Asian Americans in the US had reached an “alarming” level. The report specified that 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans had occurred between March and May 2020, just as the pandemic was taking hold in the US for the first time.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) is a term to refer to several ethnic heritages. The US Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs defines Asian-Pacific Islander as "A person with origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, or the Pacific Islands.”

What role did Donald Trump play in creating the problem?

Former president Donald Trump had repeatedly referred to the respiratory disease as the "China virus", or “Kung Flu”, even during news briefings and on social media, in efforts to demonise China in relation to covid-19 and evade responsibility on his administration’s part. The dangerous rhetoric was also touted by top White House officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The efforts to create the negative association between China and the pandemic continued right through until the end of Trump's presidency.

Joe Biden: focus on equality and justice in the US

Also expected to be on Biden’s equity agenda is action relating to Tribal governments, fair housing, and private prisons, CBS reports.

Additional measures are also being prepared on voting rights, and on Monday the President signed an action overturn Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the military.