Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

First Advisor

Joseph Zompetti


Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, expressions of anti-Asian sentiments have been on the rise. From March 2020 to June 2021, there were a total of 9,081 self-reported incidents of hate across the United States (Stop AAPI Hate, 2021). As the coronavirus spread into the United States, President Donald Trump immediately blamed China. He did so by referring to the virus as the “Chinese Virus” and used the hashtag #chinesevirus on Twitter (Weise, 2021). Anti-Asian sentiments expressed on Twitter grew after Trump’s tweet about the “Chinese virus” and the number of Chinese and other Asian hate crimes grew exponentially. The purpose of this study is to explore the rhetorical strategies that Trump utilized to create a sense of fear against the dangerous “Other.” I used a rhetorical thematic analysis to analyze a series of Trump’s tweets and speeches that contains language such as “Chinese virus” or “Kung Flu.” In his tweets, themes such as scapegoating, fear of the other, China bashing, and populist appeals were prevalent. In his speeches, the themes were China bashing, scapegoating, and populist appeals. Describing Chinese and other Asian bodies as “spreaders” of diseases, reinforces the Yellow Peril and perpetual foreigner stereotypes. The study showed the importance of presidential rhetoric in influencing public opinion in the context of COVID-19 and Asian hate.


Imported from Zheng_ilstu_0092N_12169.pdf


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