04:55 GMT21 October 2020
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    The Cleveland, Ohio contest was fuelled with tension over personal attacks as well as tit-for-tat insults on the economy and US COVID-19 response, which has infected over 7m people globally and claimed over 200,000 American lives to date.

    China's alleged role in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was to blame for economic crises in the United States, President Donald Trump said in the first televised debate ahead of the US elections in November.

    “We built the greatest economy in history, we closed it down because of the China plague,” President Trump said, despite not being asked directly about China in the Tuesday debate.

    But Democratic challenger Joe Biden accused Trump of downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and praising efforts from the Chinese government.

    “We were insisting that … the people we had on the ground in China should be able to go to Wuhan [where the first infections were reported] and determine for themselves how dangerous this was. [Trump] did not ask Xi to do that. He told us what a great job Xi was doing, he said we owe him a debt of gratitude for being so transparent with us," Biden said.

    Trump lashed out, stating the former vice-president was influenced by China due to his son, Hunter Biden, having ties with Beijing for his role as a board member of BHR Equity Investment Fund Management in Shanghai.

    The Biden campaign disputed the claims, stating that no charges were filed and no wrongdoing had been proven, according to the South China Morning Post.

    Hostile Anti-Asian Comments Spark Major Study, US Debate Twitterstorm

    Trump's statements referring to COVID-19 as the "China virus" numerous times in speeches and pressers come amid dismal polling numbers over his handling of the ongoing pandemic, the SCMP added.

    Research from the Health Education & Behavior journal found that such statements in the media spiked bias against Asian-Americans, boosting the idea of being "perpetual foreigners", according to researchers in the study.

    “Research suggests that when people see Asian Americans as being more ‘foreign,’ they are more likely to express hostility toward them and engage in acts of violence and discrimination,” Rucker Johnson, public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and study co-author told NBC Asian-American at the time.

    Many on social media were quick to slam Trump's comments as racist, stating that such comments "incites violence" and should not be ignored.

    Other topics at the event included race riots, electoral integrity, the economy and Supreme Court, among others. The current president frequently interrupted his challenger, sparking anger from Biden, who told Trump to "shut up" amid the debates.

    "The people understand, Joe. Forty-seven years [in politics], you've done nothing. They understand," Trump responded

    The comment came ahead of a major gaffe, where he refused to condemn the Proud Boys white supremacist group.

    President Trump accused the World Health Organisation and Chinese government of allegedly covering up the pandemic in December last year, citing reports from British medical journal the Lancet. But the publication sharply refuted the claims it had written reports on the virus at the time, adding its first report was published in late January this year.

     

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    2020 election, pandemic, SARS coronavirus, coronavirus, COVID-19, racism, trade war, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Presidential debate
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