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'Chinatown is not part of China': Trump's tweet at Pelosi is met with criticism online

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 4/17/2020 Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY
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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's tweet Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's, D-Calif., February visit to San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood was "responsible for many deaths" was met with criticism.

"Crazy Nancy Pelosi deleted this from her Twitter account," Trump claimed, saying, "She wanted everyone to pack into Chinatown long after I closed the BORDER TO CHINA. Based on her statement, she is responsible for many deaths. She’s an incompetent, third-rate politician!"

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (C) (D-CA) tours San Francisco's Chinatown on February 24, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Nancy Pelosi joined community leaders on a merchant walk and dim sum lunch in San Francisco's Chinatown as concerns over the Coronavirus have had an impact on businesses in Chinatown. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775484382 ORIG FILE ID: 1208441172 © Justin Sullivan, Getty Images SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (C) (D-CA) tours San Francisco's Chinatown on February 24, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Nancy Pelosi joined community leaders on a merchant walk and dim sum lunch in San Francisco's Chinatown as concerns over the Coronavirus have had an impact on businesses in Chinatown. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775484382 ORIG FILE ID: 1208441172

On Jan. 31, the administration declared a public health emergency for coronavirus, and announced travel restrictions from China. The president's social distancing recommendations for Americans were rolled out in mid-March.

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Trump's tweet was regarding a tour of the Chinatown neighborhood in San Francisco, which is in the district Pelosi represents, made on Feb. 24, encouraging people to visit the area as customers vanished.  

“We should come to Chinatown,” she said. “Precautions have been taken by our city. We know that there is concern surrounding tourism ... but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come.”

Pelosi's visit was before San Francisco declared a state of emergency and before Mayor London Breed issued a stay-at-home order.

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Pelosi's chief of staff, Drew Hammill, tweeted, "Fact check: We never posted this video. It’s obviously local TV coverage of the Speaker visiting Chinatown in San Francisco three weeks prior to the shelter-in-place order."

Factcheck.org corroborated this, saying, "We could find no record that the video was ever posted on Pelosi’s Twitter account."

Trump's comment about Pelosi's visit to the neighborhood are to counter criticism that he was slow to react to the coronavirus. 

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Trump made similar comments on Wednesday, saying, “They didn’t want our borders closed. They’re criticizing me for closing the border. I did that very early. By the way, I did that very early while Nancy Pelosi was trying to have in San Francisco parties in Chinatown because she thought it would be great."

Chinatown neighborhood's across the nation have seen a rise in anti-Asian American sentiment since COVID-19 was exploding in China. Many Asian Americans have reported an uptick in discrimination and hate crimes.

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Gregg Orton, the national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, a coalition of more than 35 Asian American advocacy organizations, said there was “no question” the number of discriminatory incidents, and attacks, against Asian Americans had increased since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, tweeted about the president's post: "We don't have a border with China. Also, the fact that you can't distinguish between China & Chinese AMERICANS puts Asian American lives at risk."

#Chinatown was Trending Thursday afternoon, soon after Trump's tweet.

It was unclear to many Twitter users whether the president recognized Chinatown neighborhoods across the nation were not the same thing as China, the country.

Pelosi's daughter had strong words for the President:

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On Feb. 24, the same day that Pelosi visited Chinatown, Trump wrote in a tweet: "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

Two days later, Trump said in a news conference, "When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done."

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The outbreak has claimed more than 32,000 lives across the nation as of Thursday evening, with nearly 660,000 confirmed cases in the U.S, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Contributing: Nicholas Wu

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Chinatown is not part of China': Trump's tweet at Pelosi is met with criticism online

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