Donald Trump has been accused of “fanning hatred” after a re-election attack advert wrongly suggested a former US ambassador to Beijing was a Chinese official.
Gary Locke, who held the top diplomatic post during Barack Obama’s administration and also served as commerce secretary, was born in Washington and was governor of the state for eight years.
In a statement, Mr Locke, 70, said: “President Trump and his team are fanning hatred and it needs to stop now.
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“Hate crimes and discrimination against the Asian American community are on the rise [since the coronavirus epidemic began]. And the Trump team is making it worse.
“Asian Americans are Americans. Period. We defend our country in wars, build businesses and create jobs, serve in all levels of our government, and are treating patients on the frontlines of this crisis as we speak.”
In the commercial, which was released on Thursday, presumptive Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden is portrayed as being soft on China.
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Mr Locke appears briefly greeting the former vice president on stage in Beijing in 2013.
It is part of a montage of pictures of Mr Biden, who is expected to take on Mr Trump in November’s presidential election, with Chinese figures, including president Xi Jinping.
The Democrat is running neck and neck with Mr Trump, with the latest opinion poll putting them both on 42%, according to Real Clear Politics.
Mr Biden said in a statement that attacks against Asian Americans were “disgusting and racist acts,” though he did not directly mention the Trump campaign ad.
“The casual racism and regular xenophobia that we have seen from Trump and this administration is a national scourge.”
“Donald Trump only knows how to speak to people’s fears, not their better angels. He only ever seeks to place blame, instead of claiming responsibility,” Mr Biden said.
The spread of the coronavirus, which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, has led to a rise in attacks on Asian Americans across the US.
The Trump administration, which has been accused of being too slow to react to the spread of COVID-19, has referred to the coronavirus both as the “Wuhan virus” and the “Chinese virus.”
Monitoring group Stop AAPI Hate said it has received more than 1,100 reports of coronavirus discrimination from Asian Americans across the country in the first two weeks alone after it was launched last month.
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Former Democrat candidate, Andrew Yang, described Mr Locke on Twitter as as “American as the day is long” and claimed the campaign was trying to rewrite history and shift attention from Mr Trump’s poor response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh defended the ad on Twitter, saying it “specifically places Biden in Beijing”.