By Ruth Bayangz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
David Chan of Everett asked, “When can an Asian American reporter not be treated like a foreigner?”
Chan emailed the Northwest Asian Weekly, pointing out President Donald Trump’s combative exchange on May 11 with CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang during a White House news briefing.
Jiang had asked Trump why he was putting so much emphasis on the amount of coronavirus tests that have been conducted in the United States.
“Why does that matter?” Jiang asked. “Why is this a global competition to you if everyday Americans are still losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?”
Trump replied, “Well, they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world. And maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me; ask China that question, OK?”
He called for another question, and there was no immediate response.
“Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” Jiang asked. Jiang, who has worked for CBS News since 2015, was born in Xiamen, China, and immigrated to the United States with her family at age 2.
Trump said he would say that to “anyone who asks a nasty question.”
“It’s not a nasty question,” Jiang said. “Why does that matter?” Shortly after that, Trump ended the news conference abruptly and walked away from the podium.
Chan wondered as well, why that’s relevant.
“When Connie Chung became an anchor for CBS Evening News in 1993, I thought America finally had accepted everyone. Americans of Asian descent would no longer be perpetual foreigners,” he wrote. “Now in 2020, the president of the United States still sees America as only for whites, along with most of his supporters. People of color rarely appear in his administration… America is going backward.”
In a statement, the Asian American Journalists Association said it stands by Jiang and her fellow press corps members “in their fearless pursuit of answers, as they have consistently demonstrated in White House coronavirus briefings. An independent and inclusive press corps is vital, from the White House to city halls.”
On May 12, Trump tweeted that Asian Americans were “VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World,” appearing to refer to the Chinese government’s history of concealing the early stages of the coronavirus that eventually evolved into a pandemic.
“Chinese Americans are the most angry of all,” Trump tweeted. “I don’t blame them!”
Asian Americans in Congress disputed Trump’s characterization of their support for his administration.
Rep. Grace Meng of New York said to Trump, “We are very angry at you. You use racism to disguise your lack of responsiveness and responsibility. American lives of all backgrounds have been lost.”
Jiang’s exchange with Trump on May 11 wasn’t her first run-in with the president. On April 19, she asked Trump if his response to the coronavirus had been delayed.
Trump responded by asking “Who are you with?” several times before responding that he had cut off China. When Jiang clarified that he had barred Chinese nationals but not Americans, Trump responded by saying, “Nice and easy, nice and easy, just relax.” Moments later, when Jiang asked him to acknowledge that he didn’t think the virus would spread, he told her, “Keep your voice down, please.”
On March 17, Jiang tweeted that a White House staffer referred to the virus as the “Kung flu” to her face. “Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” she tweeted.