NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel said Wednesday that the COVID-19 coronavirus “is a bat virus, not a China virus.”
He also argued that “China certainly feels that” referring to the virus as the “Chinese virus” amounts to “scapegoating.”
“It’s easy to scapegoat people, and that is what has always happened when there have been pandemics or epidemics: that foreigners are attacked, foreigners sometimes physically attacked,” Engel said on MSNBC Wednesday.
“If you look at what happened during the Middle Ages, there was lots and lots of scapegoating against an ethnic group or a religious group whenever there were pandemics that affected society and frightened a lot of people, and China certainly feels that that is what is happening now with people calling it the ‘Wuhan flu’ or the ‘Wuhan virus’ or the ‘China virus,’” Engel added.
“This is a virus that came from the territory of China but came from bats,” he continued. “This is a bat virus, not a China virus.”
“It doesn’t speak Chinese,” Engle said. “It doesn’t target Chinese people. It targets human beings who happen to touch their eyes, nose or mouth.”
“I have great love for all of the people from our country,” Trump said at a press briefing Wednesday. “As you know, China tried to say at one point — maybe they stopped now — that it was caused by American soldiers.”
“That can’t happen,” the president continued. “It’s not gonna happen. Not as long as I’m president. It comes from China.”