Donald Trump's reelection campaign released a racist attack ad this week that portrayed a former U.S. governor as a Chinese official.
The ad claims former Vice President Joe Biden "stands up for China." And in an effort to make that point, the ad quickly flashes an image of Biden at an event with former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, with a Chinese flag in the background.
The ad appears to suggest Locke, who is Chinese American, is a Chinese government official.
In addition to his time as Washington state governor, Locke also served as Commerce secretary and ambassador to China under former President Barack Obama.
Former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, who is also Chinese American, called the Trump campaign's ad "infuriating."
"Gary Locke is as American as the day is long," Yang tweeted. "Trump rewriting history as if he effectively responded to the virus is utter garbage. We lost 70 days and thousands of lives due to his incompetence and disregard for what was happening overseas."
The ad is part of a broader effort by Trump and his allies to pin blame for the administration's botched COVID-19 response on someone else.
Trump has blamed Obama, China, and the World Health Organization for the virus thus far, refusing to take ownership of his own administration's slow response, which in part lead to a surge of deaths and devastating economic damage.
Trump has repeatedly called the new coronavirus the "Chinese virus," against expert advice.
The term is both racist and xenophobic and goes directly against public health guidance to not name viruses after geographic locations, as it can lead to stigmatization of certain groups of people, even when they are not to blame for the outbreak.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, people of Asian descent have been the target of violent attacks and racist outbursts. The Trump campaign's ad builds on that racism and xenophobia, accusing Biden of standing up for China by opposing the restrictions he placed on travelers from the country earlier this year.
Biden, in reality, did support those restrictions.
"Joe Biden supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy," Biden's deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfeld told CNN on April 3. "Science supported this ban, therefore he did too."
Trump himself has been laudatory of China in recent weeks.
"The relationship with China is a good one," Trump said at an April 1 news conference, adding that he, "will always assume the best" of China's leaders.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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