Study: Anti-Asian hashtags grew after Trump tied COVID-19 to China
People take part in a protest against Asian hate in New York, U.S., March 21, 2021. /Xinhua

People take part in a protest against Asian hate in New York, U.S., March 21, 2021. /Xinhua

A group of researchers have found that former U.S. President Donald Trump's first tweet about a "Chinese virus" on March 16, 2020 brought a rise in anti-Asian hashtags on Twitter.

Comparing the hashtags the week before March 16, 2020 to those created the week after, a significant increase was observed in anti-Asian hashtags associated with #chinesevirus as compared to #covid19, according to a peer-reviewed study published on March 17 by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

Analyzing nearly 700,000 tweets that used either #covid19 or #chinesevirus from March 9-23, the study pointed out that half of the tweets using #chinesevirus showed anti-Asian sentiment, while only 20 percent of those using #covid19 reflected the sentiment.

Previously in March, a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino found that anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of America's largest cities increased by nearly 150 percent in 2020.

In recent months, many Asian Americans, including NBA G League player Jeremy Lin, have reported experiencing anti-Asian discrimination.

Read more: Ohio judge asked to apologize for tying COVID-19 to China in an article

The issue of anti-Asian hate violence made headlines again last week after a 21-year-old white gunman shot dead eight people, including six Asian women, at three different spas in Atlanta.

Several federal lawmakers noted the deadly Atlanta shootings were likely rooted in racism. Californian Congresswoman Judy Chu told ABC News, "I do strongly believe that this is a hate crime."

Chu also said Trump's discriminative rhetoric undermined two pieces of proposed legislation, respectively the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the NO HATE Act, that congressional members are pushing forward.

Trump doubled down with his discriminative rhetoric, said Chu, adding that they have been working for a year to try to get something done against the anti-Asian hate crimes.

U.S. President Joe Biden took aim on Sunday at the "ugly poisons" of "systemic racism and white supremacy" that he said had long plagued the country.

"Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It should have no safe harbor anywhere in the world. We must join together to make it stop," Biden said in a statement.

(With input from agencies)

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