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Trump, rhetoric, Asian hate, Twitter, coronavirus


Since the start of Covid-19, anti-Asian sentiment spiked. 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 Covid-19 spread into the U.S., President Trump immediately blamed China by referring to the virus as the ‘Chinese Virus’ and used the hashtag #ChineseVirus on Twitter (Weise, E. 2021). Anti-Asian hashtags soared after Donald Trump first tied COVID-19 to China on Twitter. (USA Today. https://www. Anti-Asian rhetoric expressed on Twitter grew after Trump’s tweet about the ‘Chinese virus,’ and the number of Chinese and other Asian hate crimes grew exponentially. This study explores the rhetorical strategies that Trump utilized to create a sense of fear against the dangerous ‘Other.’ We use a rhetorical thematic analysis to analyze Trump’s tweets that contain language such as ‘Chinese virus’ or ‘Kung Flu.’ Themes such as scapegoating, fear of the other, China bashing, and populist appeals were prevalent. Describing Chinese and other Asian bodies as ‘spreaders’ of diseases, reinforces the Yellow Peril and perpetual foreigner stereotypes. The study shows the importance of presidential rhetoric in influencing public opinion in the context of COVID-19 and Asian hate.

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This article was published Open Access thanks to a transformative agreement between Milner Library and Taylor & Francis.


This article was published in Asian Journal of Communication, DOI:

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.