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Trump warns China of possible consequences for pandemic

19 April 2020 11:42 am - 16     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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U.S. President Donald Trump warned China on Saturday that it should face consequences if it was "knowingly responsible" for the coronavirus pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak. "It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn't, and the whole world is suffering because of it," Trump told a daily White House briefing.

It was the latest U.S. volley in a war of words between the world's two biggest economies, showing increased strains in relations at a time when experts say an unprecedented level of cooperation is needed to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

"If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences," Trump said. He did not elaborate on what actions the United States might take.

Trump and senior aides have accused China of a lack of transparency after the coronavirus broke out late last year in its city of Wuhan. This week he suspended aid to the World Health Organization accusing it of being "China-centric."

Washington and Beijing have repeatedly sparred in public over the virus. Trump initially lavished praise on China and his counterpart Xi Jinping for their response. But he and other senior officials have also referred to it as the "Chinese virus" and in recent days have ramped up their rhetoric.

They have also angrily rejected earlier attempts by some Chinese officials to blame the origin of the virus on the U.S. military.

Trump's domestic critics say that while China performed badly at the outset and must still come clean on what happened, he is now seeking to use Beijing to help deflect from the shortcomings of his own response and take advantage of growing anti-China sentiment among some voters for his 2020 re-election bid.

At the same time, however, White House officials are mindful of the potential backlash if tensions get too heated. The United States is heavily reliant on China for personal protection equipment desperately needed by American medical workers, and Trump also wants to keep a hard-won trade deal on track.

Trump said that until recently the U.S.-China relationship had been good, citing a multi-billion agricultural agreement aimed at defusing a bitter trade war. "But then all of a sudden you hear about this," he said.

He said the Chinese were "embarrassed" and the question now was whether what happened with the coronavirus was "a mistake that got out of control, or was it done deliberately?"

"There's a big difference between those two," he said.

Trump also raised questions about a Wuhan virology laboratory that Fox News this week reported had likely developed the coronavirus as part of China's effort to demonstrate its capacity to identify and combat viruses. Trump has said his government is seeking to determine whether the virus emanated from a Chinese lab.

As far back as February, the Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed rumors that the virus may have been artificially synthesized at one of its labs or perhaps escaped from such a facility.

Wandering off the topic of the coronavirus, Trump also used the White House briefing to take a swipe at presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his long record on China as a senator and former vice president.

While stressing his own confrontational trade policies toward China, Trump, using his nickname "Sleepy Joe" for his rival, said if Biden wins the White House that China and other countries "will take our country."

Trump also again cast doubt on China's death toll, which was revised up on Friday. China said 1,300 people who died of the coronavirus in Wuhan - half the total - were not counted, but dismissed allegations of a cover-up.

The United States has by far the world's largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 720,000 infections and over 37,000 deaths.

Even Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force who has steered clear of political aspects of Trump's contentions briefings, questioned China's data.

Showing on a chart that China's death rate per 100,000 people was far below major European countries and the United States, she called China's numbers "unrealistic" and said it had a "moral obligation" to provide credible information.

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  Comments - 16

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  • Sambo Sunday, 19 April 2020 11:54 AM

    Yes I believe China is the culprit of this virus and should take responsibility for what has gripped the entire world.

    Anmanpan Sunday, 19 April 2020 12:21 PM

    Well side Mr. President of arguably the worlds only supper power. That is a vey strong statement from a strong statesman.

    johan Sunday, 19 April 2020 12:28 PM

    China's Economic cities Shanghai,Beijing no infection.Non of their leaders and their families were infected. China's silence is a mystery though whatever way they try to eyewash the countries who have business ventures with them

    vince Sunday, 19 April 2020 01:48 PM

    what is he gonna do? nuke them? all fart and no excrement as ever, just like some politicians here.

    True Sri lankan Sunday, 19 April 2020 02:26 PM

    China will have to pay compensation to all the countries impacted by COVID unless they can prove that adequate measures were done to contain the spread from Jan onwards ... For the first time Trump is right !

    Truth Behind Sunday, 19 April 2020 07:17 PM

    Whether Chinese knowingly hide the real truth or not US is suffering due to this idiot’s poor decision making, he first call the virous is a hoax, and many other things. If he takes correct action right time many thousands of lives could have been saved. Unfortunately he can’t blame China for that. He is a worst political leader US ever had and such an idiot

    Robin Jayasekera Sunday, 19 April 2020 07:21 PM

    Why the f... is this US always pointing fingers at others without controlling the virus spread in their own country. Sri Lanka obviously has done a great job by controlling fake media that feed conspiracy theories. So called unchecked freedom in US is ruining the rational thinking capacity of it's own people. They just come out with super BS theories and people jump to embrace them and spread faster than the virus. C'mon people of US, get a life.

    S Jansz Sunday, 19 April 2020 07:51 PM

    Even Belgium (pop 11 million) has more deaths than China (pop 1394 million). They doubled their fake Wuhan numbers by exactly 50.000% on Thursday and still sliding down the charts.

    meena Sunday, 19 April 2020 08:09 PM

    China does not use facebook.whats up. Ins. And their English level is relatively low, which does not mean that the Chinese remain silent. Now, the overall living standard of the Chinese people is at a medium level. The Chinese people will not waste time in the war of words. They work harder to maintain the current living standard. China was very chaotic only in the early stage of the epidemic, but it was soon completely blocked. The Chinese people follow to the government,they have very strictly rules. stayed at home and wear masks. Everyone was talking about how to disinfect at any time. The United States died so many people because of the President of the United States "Ask" the public not to wear masks. Sri Lankan people also listened to the government and stayed at home, so we will definitely be able to win soon.

    George Harry Sunday, 19 April 2020 08:56 PM

    You can SHOUT............ SHOUT............... SHOUT............... BUT have no ability to fight against CHINA and its ECONOMY. Undoubtedly the US MILITARY is responsible for this Corona Virus outbreak.

    Paala Sunday, 19 April 2020 10:02 PM

    Trump is angry ,because he couldn't control this virus,but before put the blame on China he has to come up with facts

    Ronnie Bugger Sunday, 19 April 2020 10:03 PM

    Mr. Donald Trump, Sir. Don't try to pass the buck or as the saying goes, don't pass the ball. Your country tops the list for infections and deaths despite all the high tech medical know how, etc. The Governor of New York has pointed fingers at you. The buck stops at you. Please blame yourself.

    Hamid Sunday, 19 April 2020 10:19 PM

    Businessman Trump is so furious,because his income has gone down due to covid virus,

    Baudhaloka Sunday, 19 April 2020 10:24 PM

    It's ridiculous for Trump to accuse China for not handling the pandemic well while he missed 2 months time after China was first attacked by the coronavirus. Is he and some other politicians and media blind to see the deaths in Wuhan in January? Only reason is the coming presidential election, and Trump needs to blame China, WHO, and Democratic to deflect his failure. The mother of stupidity is always pregnant.

    ram Monday, 20 April 2020 02:17 AM

    U.S. President an Chinese president share similar character when it comes to truth. Both suppress the truth which is bad for the economy

    Baron Baaron Monday, 20 April 2020 03:25 AM

    Here is the CONSEQUENCE; 22 plane loads from China landed in USA carrying urgent medical supplies, at the request of Trump's govt. Trump is on "China Bashing" as a strategy to win reelection. He is in oblivion how he praised China for the rigorous steps it took at the start in Wuhan. That blockade helped China to save populous cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Trump dismissed the virus attack on USA as a "hoax" and "just another flu".


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