32 Percent of Americans Have Witnessed Someone Blaming Asian People for the Coronavirus Pandemic

About one-third of Americans have witnessed someone blaming Asian people for the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.

The new poll released on Tuesday was conducted by Ipsos and the Center for Public Integrity, finding that 32 percent of respondents had seen someone placing blame on Asians for the global outbreak of the new virus. According to the polling data, minorities—including Asians (60 percent), Hispanics (48 percent) and African Americans (43 percent)—were more likely to have seen such behavior than white respondents (27 percent).

Additionally, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to have said they'd witnessed people blaming Asians. While 41 percent of Democrats said they'd seen such behavior, only 24 percent of Republicans said the same.

The survey also found that the majority of Americans (56 percent) view the coronavirus as a natural disaster. But Republicans, retirees and those without a college education are more likely to view the pandemic as caused by a specific group of people or an organization. In total, 44 percent of respondents believed a specific group or organization was behind the outbreak.

Chinatown, New York
Children wearing surgical masks watch the annual Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown on February 9 in New York City. Republicans, retirees and those without a college education are more likely to view the pandemic as caused by a specific group of people or an organization. Spencer Platt/Getty

Of that minority of respondents, 66 percent suggested China deserved blame. Additionally, 45 percent specifically mentioned Chinese people or China, while 13 percent say the virus was caused by a lab in China. Around 3 percent believed that the coronavirus pandemic was the result of a biological attack.

The new coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China, which became the original epicenter of the global pandemic. However, as the virus spread rapidly around the world, southern Europe became the new global hotspot; that was followed by the U.S., which now has by far the most confirmed cases in the world. There is some evidence to suggest that the coronavirus could have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, but scientists have dismissed the possibility that this virus could have been manufactured by humans.

Within the U.S., many Asian Americans have reported facing harassment and physical assaults as attackers associated them with the global pandemic. In late March, the FBI warned that it anticipated a national surge in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.

"The FBI assesses hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease…endangering Asian American communities," an FBI intelligence report distributed to local law enforcement agencies across the country cautioned, ABC News reported.

"The FBI makes this assessment based on the assumption that a portion of the US public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations," the document explained.

Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) warned of an uptick in reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

"Since January 2020, there have been more than 75 reports of AAPI individuals being threatened and harassed on the street. These incidents include being told to, 'Go back to China,' being blamed for 'bringing the virus' to the United States, being referred to with racial slurs, spat on, or physically assaulted," the organization noted.

"Statements by public officials referring to COVID-19 as the 'Chinese virus,' 'Kung Flu' or 'Wu Flu' may be exacerbating the scapegoating and targeting of the AAPI community," the report asserted.

President Donald Trump, administration officials and some top Republicans have faced criticism for referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus" or the "Kung Flu." As the ADL warned, many have said that such statements encourage anti-Asian sentiments and possible violence against their communities.

"It is heartbreaking what is happening to Asian Americans around the country," former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who is Taiwanese-American, told CNN this week.

"It would be very helpful to have a president who is not trying to distract from his own failures by racializing a disease," he added.