Not justifying it, either, since I call it covid, and that's two syllables as opposed to the 3 or 4 it takes to say China virus or China plague. I'm joking about that, I honestly think covid is a fine term, but if I really stretch, and play devil's advocate here for a moment, I can come up with a reason why some might prefer to use either of those terms.
Which term conjures a stronger mental image? Shell shock, or PTSD? Shock therapy, or ECT? I provided the acronyms for the updated terms, not only because both are well-known in pop culture, but also to show that there is some amount of sterility involved when you detach a name from a lived experience.
So, yeah, China plague is vaguely racist, just as shell shock was/is probably offensive to WWII veterans. For better or worse though, humans are always going to respond more strongly to a cutting term, something that makes them react, not think, particularly in high pressure situations. Whether those reactions are ultimately more harmful in the short term is debatable, but, just as the crudeness of the name shell shock lead to the understanding and better mental health treatment of veterans, so, too, might people flinging around the words China plague and China virus lead to a delayed outpouring of empathy and support. I agree that it shouldn't be delayed, but we're all collectively grieving and fucked up in a way that is unprecedented. And what is one of the five stages of grief? Anger, of course. Just as a parent might lash out at and tear down those closest to their child who died by suicide, even when there's no justification for such a reaction, and that, in fact, will do more harm than good, we might feel the need to cast our nets wide in order to grasp at something, anything, that lets us have the right to feel whatever complicated feelings we have right now. Does that make it right? No, but it does make it human. If the immediate crisis ever dissipates, we can, hopefully, excluding total assholes here, because they don't need permission to flaunt their assholery, come to a place where we can say, "hey, about that China virus crap? It was racist and shitty, but I was at my breaking point." I'm a firm believer that sometimes, even the most sincere apology can't mend a rift, and one should do their best to repent in whatever way they see fit, if they can own their wrongdoing and/or complicence in whatever matter caused them to act unflattering or out of character. I absolutely refuse to believe that every person who has uttered the words China virus is a raging psychopath who aligns with Trump's alt right leanings. It just doesn't add up to me, given the gravity of the situation we are all facing at this time.
The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It's just holding half the amount it can potentially hold.