Donald Trump abruptly halted a press conference on Monday after being challenged by an Asian American reporter whom he told: “Don’t ask me. Ask China.”
With the stars and stripes at his back, Trump held his first press briefing since 27 April in the White House rose garden, flanked by testing equipment and swabs and signs that proclaimed: “America leads the world in testing.”
But during a question and answer session, Weijia Jiang, White House correspondent of CBS News, asked why the president constantly emphasises that the US is doing better than any other country when it comes to testing.
“Why does that matter?” she queried. “Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?”
Trump retorted: “Well, they are losing their lives everywhere in the world. Maybe that is a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question. When you ask China that question you may get a very unusual answer.”
The president then called on another reporter, Kaitlan Collins of CNN, but she paused as Jiang interjected: “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?”
The president replied: “I am not saying it specifically to anybody. I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that.”
The CBS correspondent pointed out: “That is not a nasty question.”
Collins, at the microphone, then tried to ask her question, but Trump said he was now looking to someone at the back. As Collins repeatedly objected, the president turned on his heel and left the podium.
Trump has frequently been criticised for adopting a particularly harsh or patronising tone at press conferences to women in general and women of colour in particular. Jiang was born in China but immigrated to America at the age of two.